What Are the Best Undergraduate English Programs in the U.S.?

Review the typical characteristics of a school with a strong undergraduate program in English and read about three top-ranked schools with programs in this field. In addition, explore the various literature and writing degrees you could pursue at these schools as an undergraduate English major. Schools offering English Language & Literature degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Choose an Undergraduate English Program?

The finest English departments will have faculty members who are highly regarded within their specialized fields, notable for their publications and contributions to secondary literature. You should be able to learn about topics in general areas of fiction, poetry, drama, journalism, nonfiction prose and creative writing. Strong programs have curricula that cover the historical and geographical range of the Anglophone tradition, offering courses in medieval, Old and Middle English poetry and literature, Renaissance and Early Modern works, Shakespeare, and British and American literature from the 18th century onward, as well as contemporary works.

Three Top Undergraduate English Programs

University of California, Berkeley

Faculty members in Berkeley's English Department have received more university Distinguished Teaching Awards than any other department, and they specialize in a range of areas, including British, American and world literature, critical theory, cultural studies, linguistics, drama, poetry and creative writing. A potential degree is:

  • Bachelor of Arts in English

Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

Harvard University is the oldest higher education institution in the country. Their undergraduate program exposes you to a range of literature from the eighth century onward. You can take courses that focus on authors within the Western canon, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton, as well as courses that discuss less well-known authors. You can also select from courses within the field of general creative writing, which covers fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays and screenplays. Harvard offers this degree:

  • Bachelor of Arts in English

Yale University in New Haven, CT

The English Department at Yale University has been at the center of a number of important historical movements in the general fields of literature and literary criticism. Yale's undergraduate program focuses on all the major genres of literature, and you can take creative writing courses from professional stylists. You can earn the following degree:

  • Bachelor of Arts in English

More Undergraduate English Programs

College/University Institution Type LocationEstimated Undergrad In-State Tuition*
University of Pennsylvania 4-year, Private Philadelphia, PA$55,500
Purdue University 4-year, Public West Lafayette, IN$10,000
University of Washington - Seattle 4-year, Public Seattle, WA$11,000
Brown University 4-year, Private Providence, RI$55,000
University of Virginia 4-year, Public Charlottesville, VA$18,000
Princeton University 4-year, Private Princeton, NJ$50,000
College of the Holy Cross 4-year, Private Worcester, MA$53,000
Columbia University 4-year, Private New York, NY$59,000
University of Iowa 4-year, Public Iowa City, IA$9,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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