University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The major in English is designed to introduce students to the history of literature written in English, to acquaint them with a variety of historical periods and geographical and cultural regions of English language and writing, to create an awareness of methods and theories of literary and cultural analysis, and to provide continued training in critical writing.

Entry Level Writing Requirement

Students must have fulfilled the Entry Level Writing Requirement before taking any course in the Department of English. For further information, see the information contained in the Undergraduate Education section of this Guide.

Declaring the Major

Before declaring the major, students must have completed the Reading and Composition requirement of the College of Letters and Science, at least 30 units, and two declaration

  1. ENGLISH 45A or ENGLISH 45B,
  2. ENGLISH 45A, ENGLISH 45B, ENGLISH 45C, ENGLISH 90, or a course that fulfills the Shakespeare requirement (see Major Requirements).

For further information on declaring, please see the department website.

Honors Program

An honors degree in English requires the completion of a two-semester 8-unit course, ENGLISH H195A/ENGLISH H195B, offered every year in a fall-spring sequence only. ENGLISH H195A is a limited-enrollment course in criticism and critical theory, during which students develop a thesis project. At the end of ENGLISH H195A, a grade of IP is assigned. In ENGLISH H195B students work independently, under the supervision of the ENGLISH H195B instructor and a thesis adviser, to complete the honors thesis (normally 40–60 pages). Upon completion of the thesis, and only then, students earn 8 units and a letter grade for the whole sequence. Admission to the course is by application and open only to senior English majors with an overall GPA of 3.51 or higher and a major GPA of 3.65 or higher in courses taken at Berkeley toward the major.  See the department website for additional information.

Minor Program

See Minor Requirements and the department website for information on the English Minor (requirements and declaration processes). 

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements


General Guidelines

  1. The English Major consists of no fewer than 12 courses, at least 7 of which must be upper division. Students majoring in English are expected to complete at least 7 courses in the department; other courses counted toward the major can total no more than five and may not be taken concurrently while enrolled at Berkeley.
  2. All required courses (English 45A, 45B, 45C, 90, 100, 190, and courses taken to fulfill the Shakespeare, Pre-1800 and Literatures in English requirements) must be taken for a letter grade. No more than two other courses (electives for the major) may be taken Pass/No Pass (P/NP), subject to regulations set forth by the College of Letters and Science.
  3. No more than two 4-unit Berkeley English Summer Sessions courses may be counted toward the major.
  4. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  5. To graduate with a degree in English, a student must achieve at least a 2.0 GPA in: a) all work undertaken at the University of California (all campuses); b) all courses required for the English major; and c) all upper division courses in the English major.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Major Requirements

Foundational Courses
Literature in English: Through Milton [4] 1
Literature in English: The Late-17th through the Mid-19th Century [4] 1
Literature in English: The Mid-19th through the Mid-20th Century [4] 1
Select one course in Shakespeare: 2
Shakespeare [4]
Shakespeare [4]
Shakespeare [4]
Shakespeare [4]
Shakespeare [4]
Seminar Courses (to be taken in sequence) 3
Practices of Literary Study [4]
The Seminar on Criticism [4]
Select one of the following:
Research Seminar [4]
Honors Course
and Honors Course
Elective Courses
Select five courses from the offerings of the English department. Of these 5 electives, one must fall in the area of pre-1800 English Literature, and another in the area of "Literatures in English." For a list of courses that regularly satisfy these breadth requirements, see below. 7
Pre-1800 Course 4,5
Select one upper division course in British, American, or Anglophone literature from an historical period before 1800; standard course offerings that meet this requirement include the following:
Introduction to Old English [4]
Anglo-Saxon England [4]
Medieval Literature [4]
Chaucer [4]
Middle English Literature [4]
English Drama [4]
English Drama [4]
The English Renaissance [4]
The English Renaissance [4]
Milton [4]
Literature of the Restoration and Early Eighteenth Century [4]
Literature of the Later 18th Century [4]
The English Novel [4]
American Literature: Before 1800 [4]
Literatures in English Course 6
Select one upper or lower division course that addresses the variety of literary traditions and writings of peoples and cultures that have been historically underrepresented in the U.S., the British Isles, and other anglophone countries and regions; standard course offerings that meet this requirement include the following
Literature of American Cultures [4]
African American Literature and Culture [4]
Chicana/o Literature and Culture [4]
Asian American Literatures and Cultures [4]
African American Literature and Culture Before 1917 [4]
African American Literature and Culture Since 1917 [4]
Topics in African American Literature and Culture [4]
Literature of American Cultures [4]
Chicana/o Literature and Culture to 1910 [4]
Chicana/o Literature and Culture Since 1910 [4]
Topics in Chicana/o Literature and Culture [4]
Studies in World Literature in English [4]
The Cultures of English [4]
Special Topics in American Cultures [4]
Literature and Disability [4]

With approval, the ENGLISH 45A/ENGLISH 45B/ENGLISH 45C requirements may be satisfied by substituting for each course two appropriate upper division courses. To meet the ENGLISH 45B and ENGLISH 45C requirements, one course equivalent must be in American literature and one must be in British literature in the appropriate historical periods. Any and all courses used to satisfy the ENGLISH 45A/ENGLISH 45B/ENGLISH 45C requirements must be taken for a letter grade.


ENGLISH 117T does not satisfy this requirement.


ENGLISH 90 and ENGLISH 100 must be taken in sequence prior to ENGLISH 190. Transfer students entering the third-year class may be able to apply credit for ENGLISH 90 by transferring certain qualified literature courses completed at their prior college. (Composition courses are not eligible.) Students entering in their freshman year should complete ENGLISH 90 by the end of their sophomore year, then ENGLISH 100 in their junior year, and ENGLISH 190 or the Honors courses in their senior year.


ENGLISH 107, any Shakespeare course, or a course outside of the department that does not include a substantial amount of literature in English will not fulfill this requirement.


There also may be special topics courses (ENGLISH 165/ENGLISH 166/ENGLISH 166AC) or seminar courses (ENGLISH 100/ENGLISH 190) offered in a semester that are designated as satisfying the Pre-1800 requirement.


There also may be special topics courses (ENGLISH 165/ENGLISH 166/ENGLISH 166AC) or seminar courses (ENGLISH 90, ENGLISH 100, or ENGLISH 190) offered in a semester that are designated as satisfying the Literatures in English requirement. 


Electives are 4-unit courses in the English department.  Included here are courses taken to satisfy the Pre-1800 and Literatures in English requirements, but not used to satisfy one of the other major requirements.  Since a minimum of 7 out of 12 of the major requirements must be upper division, the majority of electives, if not all, will be upper division.  Students who complete additional seminars may use them as electives for the major.  No more than two Creative Writing courses may be counted toward the major (ENGLISH 141, any ENGLISH 143 course, ENGLISH 145, and anything listed under the "Creative Writing Lecture Course" or "Creative Writing Workshop" areas).  For information on receiving credit for courses taken outside the English department; independent study units (including DeCals, Berkeley Connect in English, and internships); the Education Abroad Program; or other course work approved by exception, please see the department website.

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared before the first day of classes in your Expected Graduation Term (EGT). For summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A. 

  2. All upper-division courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

  3. A minimum of three of the upper-division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.

  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required in the upper-division courses to fulfill the minor requirements.

  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.

  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.

  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If students cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, they should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.

  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)


Upper Division
Select five upper division English Literature courses

Additional Guidelines

  1. With approval, students may substitute one upper division course from outside the Berkeley English department (e.g., in other departments on campus, other four-year institutions, or an education abroad program). See the department website for details.

  2. Students may count only one upper division Summer Sessions course at Berkeley toward the minor.

  3. Creative Writing courses in the English department do not count toward the minor.

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For a detailed lists of L&S requirements, please see Overview tab to the right in this guide or visit the L&S Degree Requirements webpage. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley and must be taken for a letter grade. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and American Institutions requirements are based on the principle that all U.S. residents who have graduated from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this campus requirement course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses are plentiful and offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer/data science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course taken for a letter grade.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work taken for a letter grade.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College of Letters and Science requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester for a letter grade.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes at Cal for four years, or two years for transfer students. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you graduate early, go abroad for a semester or year, or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an L&S College adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your B.A. degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Plan of Study


Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the English major requirements before making a program plan. For more detailed information regarding the courses listed below (e.g., elective information, GPA requirements, etc.), see the College Requirements and Major Requirements tabs.

First Year
L&S Breadth4Lower Division English Elective (Arts & Literature Breadth)4
Reading & Composition A4Reading & Composition B4
L&S Breadth4American Cultures Requirement4
Lower Division Elective3L&S Breadth3
 15 15
Second Year
L&S Breadth4ENGLISH 45C4
L&S Breadth4L&S Breadth3
Lower Division Elective3Lower Division Elective4
 15 15
Third Year
Shakespeare English Course4Upper Division English Elective4
Upper Division English Elective4Upper Division L&S Non-Major Department Elective3
Lower or Upper Division Elective3Lower or Upper Division Elective4
 15 15
Fourth Year
Pre-1800 English Course4ENGLISH 1904
Upper Division English Elective4Upper Division English Elective4
Upper Division L&S Department Elective4Lower or Upper Division Elective4
Upper Division L&S Non-Major Department Elective3Lower or Upper Division Elective3
 15 15
Total Units: 120


• This is a sample program plan. This plan assumes that the student has completed the Entry Level Writing, American History and Institutions, Quantitative Reasoning, and Foreign Language requirements prior to admission.

• Students are strongly advised to work with an academic adviser to determine a personal program plan. Your program plan will differ depending on previous credit received, your course schedule, and available offerings.


Student Learning Goals


The study of literature is not about canonical books or established facts, but about a process of interpretation and analysis, a process that begins in the classroom and develops over a lifetime. Upon completion of a BA degree in English, students should have well-developed writing and research skills as well as the ability to assess and appreciate language and literature in both professional and personal realms.

Learning Goals for the Major

  1. Identify historical periods of literature in English ( US, Britain, and Anglophone).
  2. Recognize and understand a variety of genres and modes of writing (the novel, poetic forms, short fiction, autobiography, etc.).
  3. Become conversant with key literary terms and theories.
  4. Develop an understanding of literature in interdisciplinary and multicultural contexts.


  1. Demonstrate the ability to give a close reading or explication of a text.
  2. Develop the ability to interpret and analyze literary texts and to articulate that in both writing and speaking.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the philosophical, cultural, social, and historical influences on the creation of literary art.
  4. Formulate a well-organized, well-supported argument.
  5. Develop research skills in the library and online.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to write clear critical essays, based on close reading of primary texts and secondary sources.
  7. Observe ethical and precise citation practices.
  8. For some, write well in creative modes: fiction, non-fiction, poetry.

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the English Major Map PDF.



Contact Information

Department of English

322 Wheeler Hall

Phone: 510-642-3467

Fax: 510-642-8738

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Eric Falci


Director of Undergraduate Studies

Kevis Goodman


Undergraduate Advisor

Jacki Valadez


Undergraduate Advisor

Chloe Keller


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