Literature Overview

Hamlet, War and Peace, The Great Gatsby, Ulysses, The Grapes of Wrath: these novels have made an impact on societies for decades. Majoring in Literature will allow you to read and analyze these great works while learning about the culture and history of the time they were written.

A major in Literature involves the study of cultures, traditions, history, and genres of influential literature. Some of the concentrations you could choose are American Literature, Canadian Literature, British Literature, and Children's Literature. While all these concentrations focus on different time periods or subjects, there are some courses in common. All students will take literary criticisms, author studies, period and genre studies, and regional and oral traditions.

Required Skills

This major involves a lot of reading and is ideal for the student who doesn't mind days on end in the library. Attention for detail is critical as you analyze and make connections between different works. Class discussion is another key component of this major, making strong communication skills essential. Work on being able to express your ideas and insights clearly through both written and oral communication.

Creativity and independent thought will serve you well as you pursue this major. There will be some group projects but the majority of assignments will be individual work. By the end of your years of study you will become familiar with writing long and detailed research papers. Some students further their education to obtain a Master of Literature.


Many students who study literature are interested in education and go on to become a secondary or postsecondary teacher, or a college professor. Some grads are also interested in becoming a Librarian, Library Assistant is possible or Archivist. Becoming a teacher or a librarian requires a Master's Degree, while teaching at the college level usually requires a Ph.D.

If you enjoy writing, becoming a journalist or writer is another option. Graduates can also successfully find jobs in the business world in marketing, advertising, public relations or copy writing. Literature majors who have entered the job force report an average starting salary of $43,607.

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Related Majors

Explore all the majors withing the field of English Language & Literature

Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Literature might open up.

English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary
Writers and Authors
Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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