English majors typically take the following courses in the fall semester of their first year:

First-Year Experience Learning Community Courses

We will register you in these courses.

  1. Philosophy (PHIL 201)
  2. English Composition (ENG 101) OR Theology (TRS 201)

Why am I taking these classes?   Honors students take equivalent honors courses.

Major and Elective Courses

You will need to choose and register for these courses.

  1. The History of English Literature I (ENG 231)
  2. A foreign language (see below)
  3. A liberal arts foundations course; a course toward a minor, certificate, or other focus area; or a free elective

Language placement

Your major requires you to complete the study of a foreign language through the intermediate level. Catholic University teaches the following languages that satisfy this requirement: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Irish, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. If you are interested in learning a language not listed here, consult with your advisor.

If you have previously studied a foreign language and are interested in continuing with that same language, or if you can demonstrate fluency in a foreign language, you should complete the language placement exam. 

About Your First Semester Courses

Students interested in pursuing the English major should use the first year of study to lay a broad liberal arts foundation in the arts and sciences. The more broadly students have studied, the better prepared they will be for the major. The Learning Community courses will assist students to sharpen their writing skills, to think more deeply and broadly about the foundations of their intellectual and spiritual heritage, and to begin making connections among the various kinds of knowledge. Students will reflect on what it means to be human and how to pursue the good life.

While you are not required to take English Literature courses in the first semester, English 231 is the normal 'gateway' to the major. English 235 is also a good introductory-level literature course that counts toward the English major.

We strongly recommend beginning or continuing your study of a foreign language.

For your fifth course, you can choose what you like. You can take a liberal arts elective or a free elective course in a subject of your interest. Or, you may wish to begin study in a secondary subject area, perhaps for a minor or certificate. Some suggestions for courses and subject areas that complement the English major well are below.

Art History (Art 211) – Allows students to build a strong cultural foundation in the history of the visual arts. Both exposes students to important artworks and helps them to develop more precise and well-ordered categories of aesthetic judgment. Great literary authors love great art and presume that educated people will have a strong grasp of the history of our culture’s search to represent and rediscover truth through the various visual arts.

History (any 200-level) – The study of history is an extremely helpful foundation for the study of literature. Try to connect your history courses with things you are studying in other classes. Courses on Medieval and Renaissance history (Hist 235, 316, 330A) are especially good to match up with English 231 (The History of English Literature I). Courses on early American History (Hist 257) is good to match up with English 235 (American Literature I).


Latin – If you want to start a new language, Latin can be extremely helpful for English majors at CUA. Not only is it the universal language of the Catholic Church, but also it has been the universal language of scholarship, science, and law for much of western history. Most great authors in English have known at least a little Latin. Latin is the foundation for other important languages like French, Spanish, and Italian. Learning Latin grammar is also extremely useful for clarifying our understanding of English grammar. Native speakers of English often just go on our instincts without really knowing why things are the way they are. Learning Latin helps us to see much more clearly the fundamental structures of language so that we can improve our writing and analysis in English. The orderly, well-structured nature of Latin can also do much to strengthen our logic, clarity of thought and expression, and memory.

To learn more about the English major, consult the English Department’s website.

Know which courses you want? Get registered.