Why Study English?

Photo by Jasmine Coro on Unsplash
Photo by Jasmine Coro on Unsplash


“Literature ... connects me with an enterprise that is over 2,000 years old. What do we have from the past? Art and thought. That’s what lasts. That’s what continues to feed people and give them an idea of something better.” -- Susan Sontag

Why Study English and Creative Writing at UTM?

Our department is one of the best places in Canada to study literature and creative work in English. Our tenure-stream faculty in English are active members of the larger tri-campus University of Toronto English Department, which is ranked tenth in the world. The UTM Department is small enough that you can get to know your fellow students and your professors, and that your professors and your fellow students can get to know you! UTM English and Creative Writing professors are consistently rated higher than average and many have won major awards for their teaching and scholarship. 

As a UTM English student, you can study creative writing with a Governor General’s Award-winning poet or take dramatic literature courses with expert theatre practitioners. Our students also have a vibrant life outside of the classroom. They travel abroad to research libraries with professors; write for and edit an academic journal; participate in research symposia; hear from famous visiting speakers; and attend social events including slam poetry contests and alumni career advising evenings.

What Will I Do in an English or Creative Writing Degree Program at UTM?

First-year English students often take a full credit course in Contemporary World Literatures and half credit courses on how to read texts critically and how to research and write about literature. Students further along in the program choose from courses on a wide array of topics—from Jane Austen to video game narratives, Shakespeare to contemporary global fiction, Canadian short stories to creative writing. 

Many students choose to double-major in English and another program such as Computer Science or Biology, or to complement the Major in English with a Minor in Creative Writing. Students with quantitative skills who can write well, communicate effectively, and think critically, flexibly, and creatively are well-prepared for careers in a wide range of fields, including science, business, medicine, and law.

What Will I Do with My Degree?

  • Write well
  • Think critically
  • Conduct research
  • Communicate clearly
  • Solve complex problems creatively
  • Engage different viewpoints and opinions

UTM English and Creative Writing students have gone on to become authors, scientists, human rights lawyers, successful business owners, doctors, social workers, and graphic designers.

“We need to double down on the liberal arts,” says venture capitalist Scott Hartley. “They are what give us ... our very human comparative advantage, even in a world in which machines continue to get smarter and smarter.” -- TechRepublic

For more on the value of a degree in English, check out the following articles!

The Student "What can you do with an English Language Degree"

David Deming "In the Salary Race, Engineers Sprint but English Majors Endure," The New York Times, Oct 1, 2019.

Hannah Isaac, “How My English Major Made Me Successful after College,” The Medium, October 21, 2019. 

Christine Laue, “Here’s Why Economists Argue We Need More English Majors,” PayScale, November 12, 2019. 

Cornelia Li, “In the Salary Race, Engineers Spring but English Majors Endure,” The New York Times, September 19, 2019. 

Heather Long, “The World’s Top Economists Just Made the Case for Why We Still Need English Majors,” The Seattle Times, October 19, 2019. 

Wyatt Dalton, “English Majors, Listen Up! Here’s How to Make the Most of Your Degree,” Pearson, August 25, 2018.

Aimee Picchi, “English Majors Rejoice: Employers Want You More than Business Majors,” CBS News, October 26, 2018. 


Mark Abadi, "A surprising number of doctors were undergrad English majors — and it's not just about GPA," Business Insider, November 16, 2017.

Matt Assay, “STEM is great, but here’s why an English degree might be a smarter bet,” TechRepublic, May 8, 2017. 

Kristen Felicetti, “Writers of Sentences, Not Code, Could Be the New Prospect in Tech,” Monster.com, March 8, 2016.

David Kalt, “Why I Was Wrong about Liberal Arts Majors,” The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2016. 

Geoff Colvin, “What Future Leaders Need to Learn in College,” Fortune, June 2, 2016. 

Nikki Waller, “Hunting for Soft Skills, Companies Scoop up English Majors: Employment and Starting Salaries Rise Sharply for Humanities Grads,” The Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2016.

George Anders, “That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket,” Forbes, August 17, 2015.

Brian Fung, “Tech Companies Are Hiring More Liberal Arts Majors Than You Think,” The Washington Post, August 26, 2015. 

Julie Rovner, “A Top Medical School Revamps Requirements to Lure English Majors,” NPR, May 27, 2015. 

Bradley W. Bateman, “Why Study Liberal Arts? Because It Can Help Create Both Good Citizens and Good Workers,” PostGazette, October 14, 2014.

Carolyn Gregoire, “In Defense of the ‘Impractical’ English Major,” The Huffington Post, March 14, 2014. 

Elizabeth Segran, “Why Top Tech CEOs Want Employees with Liberal Arts Degrees,” Fast Company, August 28, 2014. 

Lauren Weber, “The Liberal Arts Majors that Pay the Most,” The Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2014.

Daniel R. Schwarz, "What to Do With a B.A. in English?" The Huffington Post, January 23, 2014.

Carl Zimmer, “This is Your Brain on Writing,” The New York Times, June 20, 2014. 

Mark Edmunson, “The Ideal English Major,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23, 2013. 

Adam Gopnik, “Why Teach English,” The New Yorker, August 27, 2013.  

Gerald Howard, “Triumph of the English Major,” The New York Times, December 21, 2013. 

Tomas Jivanda, “Brain function ‘boosted for days after reading a novel’,” Independent, December 28, 2013. 

Bruna Martinuzzi, “Why English Majors are the Hot New Hires,” American Express, July 11, 2013. 

Tyler Kingkade, “Employers Target Liberal Arts Majors and College Grads Who Had Internships: Survey,” The Huffington Post, May 17, 2012.