Enrollment in the English program at Merrimack increases our students’ sensitivity to nuance, to ambiguity, and moral complexity, preparing them to become capable analysts, decision-makers, and policy shapers. Furthermore, the program cultivates in them a number of valuable skills—cogent expression, careful analysis, clear communication, attention to detail and the ability to formulate conclusions based on evidence—which provide them with tools that are valued in a variety of fields, ranging from publishing, marketing, and journalism, to teaching, free-lance writing, public relations, and more. Many of our students have gone on to pursue graduate work in English, Education, and journalism, as well as in law, library science, and business.
Practically speaking, a major in English is useful no matter what a student’s career path looks like. Research in every discipline is coming to this conclusion. Why? Because so much of the professional world values critical thinking and communication skills—precisely the ones we hone in English departments. A 2012 article in Forbes magazine begins with this statement: “Liberal arts majors actually do just fine, with incomes far in excess of the median in the United States. And many of them…are as satisfied or more satisfied with their lives as their classmates in other disciplines.”
The Forbes magazine article goes on to say “The liberal arts…also serves as a preferred pathway to rewarding and remunerative careers. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, medical schools accepted 43 percent of the biological science majors, 47 percent of physical science majors, 51 percent of humanities majors, and 45 percent of social science majors who applied in 2010….The American Bar Association agrees….A study by a Chicago State University professor bears this out: the top ten majors with the highest acceptance rates for law school include philosophy, anthropology, history and English.” Finally, the Stanford Graduate School of Business also placed a noteworthy preference on applicants with majors in the Humanities/Social Sciences, with an impressive 47% of their 2011 incoming class majoring in those fields. This is compared to business majors, who made up only 17% of admissions.
English majors attend a career night information session.