English (BA)

Discover your unique voice as a writer, thinker, and leader.

English students at Mary Baldwin University embark on a transformative journey where they refine critical thinking skills through active learning and engage with a diverse range of course offerings. With a focus on textual analysis and interpretation, our program encourages self-discovery and fosters a lifelong love for literature and language. Whether you are passionate about creative writing, analyzing complex texts, or honing your communication abilities, our English program offers a supportive and enriching environment.

Time to Completion
4 years
Online, On Campus
Bachelor of Arts
Creative Writing, English, English Education, Professional Writing

Why Study English at Mary Baldwin?

At Mary Baldwin, our small classes and innovative coursework ensure that you not only learn about famous writers from the past but also discover your own unique voice as a writer, thinker, and leader.

By choosing to major in English, you’ll build a strong intellectual foundation and cultivate critical reading and writing skills that are invaluable in today’s world. Plus, the flexibility of our program allows you to tailor your studies to your interests, focusing on areas that align with your professional aspirations.

Intrigued? Here are a few more reasons why our English program shines:

Small Class Sizes. Get to know your professors, and we’ll know you, too! Unlike at a large university, you’ll never feel anonymous.

Cross-Disciplinary Writing. We offer robust coursework in a variety of writing modes, from poetry to professional writing. You’ll graduate knowing how to communicate effectively in writing across all genres. 

Global and Diverse Perspectives. Even a quick glance at our courses shows we’re committed to studying more than dead white guys (though we’ve got plenty of them, too).

Shakespeare and Performance Studies. Staunton is home to the world-renowned Blackfriars Playhouse. MBU English students can co-major or minor in Theater and apply to our Shakespeare and Performance master’s program.

Study Abroad in Oxford. Many MBU English majors participate in the Virginia Program at Oxford University, a six-week program focused on the literature, history, and culture of late 16th and 17th century England.

Teacher Preparation. Interested in teaching English in elementary, middle, or high School? Add the English Education minor and graduate ready for a career in teaching!

Grad School Preparation. The breadth of our coursework and opportunities for independent scholarly and creative projects prepare our students for success in English MA and PhD programs, as well as law school.

Extracurricular Opportunities 

  • Department internships with the MBU online literary magazine, Outrageous Fortune 
  • Opportunities to tutor in the writing center on campus
  • Opportunities to serve as teaching assistants 

At MBU, I discovered a deep love of literature — particularly for texts centered around the African American experience. They helped me discover my true identity and find purpose.

Jelani MeyerClass of ’22, English major

Departmental Culture 

English classes are almost always held in Carpenter Academic, where classrooms are close to faculty offices so that students can continue conversations with their professors in their individual offices, surrounded by books, coffee, and occasionally dogs. Our class sizes range from 10 to 30 students; 15 students is the norm. We teach interactively and conversationally, and English majors and minors develop a friendly group identity, sharing their reading enthusiasms and their many outside interests in the worlds of pop culture, fan fiction, movies, and video games.

Every February, the English department hosts a reading as part of the African American Read-In. Organized by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the African American Read-In invites people from all across the country to gather in small groups to read and discuss works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by African American authors. 

Mary Baldwin College professor Rick Plant teaching American Women’s Autobiography, Friday May 6, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer).

Courses and Curriculum 

Mary Baldwin’s wide range of required and elective courses enable students to develop a variety of interests. 

  • Women’s Writing promotes understanding of gender and sexuality in culture. 
  • Children’s and Young Adult Literature empowers students wishing to pursue a career in education. 
  • Courses in Renaissance literature intersect with the MBU Shakespeare and Performance program and the cultural life of the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton (home of the American Shakespeare Center). 
  • Nature in America explores representation of nature in American literature and the visual arts. By focusing on the disciplines of English and environmental studies, this course discusses how representations of wilderness, the pastoral landscape, and conservation change over time and participate in nation building.  
  • Courses in African American literature and the “Poetics of Hip-Hop” reflect the diversity of our campus and the cultural centrality of Black Americans, and enable students to better understand how contemporary art incorporates self-referentiality, pastiche, lowbrow art, and more. 

Sample courses

Write Your Next Chapter

There are so many things you can do with an English degree. Our students graduate equipped for entry-level jobs and fulfilling careers in: 

  • Education, including teaching English as a second language
  • Marketing, advertising, and public relations
  • Creative fields such as travel writing, fiction writing, writing for children
  • Publishing, literary agent work, copyediting
  • Technical writing, grant writing
  • Online content creation
  • Nonprofit and advocacy work
  • Law (paralegal or law school)
  • Human resources
  • Librarianship
  • Academia

Our graduates 

Our graduates go on to versatile and vibrant careers! For example:

  • Bethany Pope obtained a PhD in creative writing at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales and has published several well-reviewed books, most recently a novel called Silage. They are currently teaching in China.
  • Sarah Thomas pursued a graduate degree in Cambridge, England, trained as a sommelier, and has recently published a children’s book Kalamata’s Kitchen that celebrates her own Indian culinary heritage – she was recently featured on national TV.
  • Jo Perkins is now student services coordinator at Lee County schools in North Carolina.
  • Alissa Hall Cruz earned an MA from James Madison University and now teaches as a full-time college professor at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.
  • Koshila Ratnayake works for the Ministry of Education in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
  • Graham McKemy is a curator of the rare books collection at Washington & Lee University.

And others go on to exciting graduate programs, such as:

  • Mikayla Metzger completed an MA in English from the University of Rochester.
  • Antonia DiNardo completed an MA in English at UNC Chapel Hill and is now pursuing a PhD in medievalisms within popular culture.
  • Jelani Meyer is pursuing graduate work in African American Studies at NCA&T in Greensboro.

Cost & Financial Aid

A great education is worth it. Here’s how Mary Baldwin helps you pay for it: Generous financial aid packages, a broad range of scholarships, transferring maximum credit hours from previous coursework or relevant work and life experiences — the list goes on. Our mission is to help you level up and bring your aspirations to life.

MBU helps you fast-track your path to a bachelor’s degree with the opportunity to transfer up to 18 credits (6 courses) through direct course equivalents from the Virginia Community Colleges System.

  • Cost per credit hour: $486
  • Credits required for a bachelor’s degree: 120

It’s time to level up your career. Apply today!