Whether you envision a career in publishing, editing, or working in a library, studying English at St. Ambrose will give you the professional skills and opportunities to grow.

Our graduates work at Cedar Rapids Community School District, Daytrotter, Everest College, Newman Central Catholic High School, Sudlow Intermediate School, self-employed novelist and publisher.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Discuss and Engage
  • Caring Faculty
  • Get Beyond the Classroom

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students in class

As an SAU English major, you will explore a wide variety of genres, be guided and challenged by professors and peers, and gain critical thinking, reading, and writing skills that are coveted by employers.

Read our English Major Fact Sheet (pdf)

More Information About an English Degree

What will I learn?

English majors develop reading, writing, and critical thinking skills by studying authors, genres, and periods. Core courses include British literature, American Literature, and literary studies.

We offer traditional and unique electives, which allows you to shape your degree to your interests. Electives include linguistics, African American literature, fiction into film, Shakespeare, devotional and mystical writing, literature of Hinduism, and memoir writing.

Many of our students complement their English degree with a second major or minor. Common combinations include English and History; English and Political Science; and English and Philosophy. We are happy to help you match your interests to a degree and career path. Contact us today to arrange a campus visit or chat with an English professor!

What unique learning opportunities will I have?

At SAU, we want you to put your growing skills and creativity to use. English majors can:

Get hands-on experience working as a writing tutor in the Student Success Center
Serve on the student advisory board for Quercus or Mazy Mind
Write for the SAU student newspaper, The Buzz
Study as a Fullbright Scholar

You can explore careers and get real-world experience before graduating. Our internship program is coordinated by the SAU Career Center, and your personal experience will be overseen by one of your professors. Students have landed internships at Family Focus Magazine, Nehlsen Communications, QC Radio group, Her Campus, Mancomm, and the Red Cross of the Quad Cities.

English department faculty coordinate events so you can engage, face-to-face, with visiting authors and poets. They also offer Study Abroad opportunities in the summer, winterim, and during spring break. Past trips have included Wordsworth in the Lake District, Literature of Hinduism in India, Theatre in London, and Travel Writing in Ecuador.

You can also join SAU's student club, English Pros(e), and take part in workshops and readings, National Day on Writing events, the annual faculty-student Halloween mixer, and a literary scavenger hunt.

What are alums doing now?
  • Emily Bailey Keimig '16 coordinates Youth Services at LeClaire (Iowa) Community Library.
  • Eric Herbst '16 works in marketing for Mississippi Valley Credit Union.
  • Livv McDonald '16 is a technical writer at Twin State Technical Services.
  • Mary Madormo '13, a double major in English and public relations, is a marketing coordinator for Nickelodeon.
What are some careers I could pursue?

A liberal arts education along with strong critical thinking, reading, writing, and speaking skills can lead you into a variety of career fields including advertising, human resources, financial research, marketing, communications, newspapers, television or radio, public relations, and publishing.

You will also be a strong candidate for graduate studies in education, law, library science, medicine, journalism, and creative writing.

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts in English (39 credits)

+ENGL 201 British Literature I
+ENGL 202 British Literature II
ENGL 210 American Literature I
ENGL 211 American Literature II
WI-ENGL 219 Introduction to Literary Studies
WI-ENGL 401 Senior Seminar

21 elective English credits (12 credits of which must be at least 300 level)

See Course Descriptions

English Minor (18 credits)

Two courses from the following:
ENGL 201 British Literature I
ENGL 202 British Literature II
ENGL 210 American Literature I
ENGL 211 American Literature II

12 elective credits (6 credits of which must be at least 300 level and one course must be writing intensive (WI) in English or a writing course.)

English Minor in ESL (17 credits)

Required Courses:

Choose from the following courses:
ENGL 230 The Structure & Grammar of English
ENGL 313 Linguistics: Language and Learning
ENGL 380/580 Teaching English as a Second Language
ENGL 381/581 Teaching English as a Second Language: Secondary and Post-Secondary Learners
EDUC 302 Foundations of ESL/Bilingual Education

Plan to Graduate

This is a sample of English courses to take toward your degree in English.

First Year
Fall - English Composition
Spring - Technical Writing and American Literature II

Fall - Literature of Place and American Literature
Spring - Creative Writing Workshop and Irish Literature

Fall - British Literature I and Intro. to Literary Study
Spring - Memoir Writing and British Literature II

Fall - Senior Seminar and Shakespeare
Spring - Independent Study and Written Business Communications


Scholarships and Grants

For academic/merit-based awards, eligible students are matched to the qualifying award; some of them are listed below.

For need-based support, eligibility is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

You may also qualify for a scholarship or grant due to your talent in the fine arts or athletics. Give us a call or send an email so we can get to know you and find the best package for you. (You're also encouraged to seek outside scholarships and begin that search early.)

Institutional scholarships (2018-19)

To receive an institutional grant or scholarship students must meet specific criteria, and some may require a certain GPA to stay eligible. There is no need to apply for these; students automatically are eligible if they meet the criteria.

The Admissions Office calculates the award amount by using high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores.

Ambrose Scholar
For First Year, on-campus residents only. Straight As on high school transcript and a minimum 30 ACT score. Applicants who meet Ambrose Scholar criteria will be invited to compete for a full tuition scholarship for $@{17-18-Tuition}.

Trustee Scholar
$22,000/year - For First-year, on-campus residents only. Unweighted 3.8 GPA, 28+ACT. May be offset by state and/or federal aid if eligible.

Academic Scholarship
$14,000-17,000/year - Based on GPA and ACT/SAT score

University Grant
$12,000/year - Based on high school GPA and ACT/SAT score

Additional Awards

If you want to apply for any of the scholarships below, contact the Admissions Office.

Fine Arts Scholarships
Award based on performance and ability in art, music, or theatre. Includes the Michael Kennedy Theatre Scholarship. Audition or portfolio required.

Athletics Scholarships
Award varies. Based on performance and ability. Marching Band scholarships available. See below.

Freeman Pollard Minority Scholarship
$1,000 for on-campus students; $500 for off-campus. For accepted minority students.

Diocese of Davenport Catholic Parish Scholarship
Award varies. For First Year students only who are recommended by their parish pastor in the Diocese of Davenport. Recommendation to be completed by your pastor available here (pdf).

Father Welch Alumni Scholarship
$1,000/year. For on-campus students only whose parent is a St. Ambrose graduate.

Athletic Scholarships

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) awards millions of dollars annually to student-athletes at more than 250 colleges and universities. These scholarships allow you to earn a college education while competing in the sport that you love. At Ambrose, we embody that value of developing both the mind and body.

How do I qualify for an athletic scholarship?
You must first be eligible to play a sport at St. Ambrose. You can read about those qualifications here. The NAIA also has a complete website on how to register for eligibility at playNAIA.org

Award Terms

FAFSA forms must be filed every year.

  • To be considered for an Iowa Tuition Grant, the filing deadline is July 1.
  • The St. Ambrose priority deadline is March 15 for some institutional funds. 
  • The Financial Aid Office has the right to adjust your award at any time due to changes in your financial, academic, enrollment, or housing status. 
  • Awards offered from State and Federal programs are contingent upon legislative allocation of funds and maximum limits allowed.
  • You must report any assistance you receive from outside sources – including assistance from your employer – to the Financial Aid Office.

Institutional Aid

Undergraduate level students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester to receive Institutional money. All students, undergraduate or graduate, must be enrolled at least half-time per semester to be eligible for student loans. (Half-time for Undergraduate level = 6 credits; Graduate level = 5 credits)

There is no institutional aid for summer sessions. Federal Loans may be available if you are enrolled at least 1/2 time.

You are eligible for institutional financial aid for up to eight semesters, including semesters taken at other schools, before or after time spent at the university (i.e. if you transfer in as a junior, you will receive 4 semesters of institutional aid; or you attended St. Ambrose, left to attend another school, and then returned). This means that if you continue into a fifth year of classes, you will not be eligible for any institutional funds you may have received previously. (Institutional funds are those awarded by the university, not state, federal, or outside based scholarships or grants.)


All financial aid awards, including loans, are disbursed in two disbursements: one for the fall term and one for the spring term. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement. Once the loan funds have been applied to your account and if you have awards in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. Any other questions regarding your financial aid should be directed to the Financial Aid Office.

Work Study

If you are receiving assistance under the work study program, you must understand that the amount shown on your award letter is the amount we expect you to earn during one academic year if you work all your allotted hours. Any additional earnings must be approved by your department supervisor and taken into consideration in your financial award package.

Endowed Scholarships

Part of the financial aid funds that St. Ambrose awards come from monies provided through the generous support of St. Ambrose University benefactors. Most endowed scholarships are meant to provide financial support for St. Ambrose University's academic and need based awards. Due to this, in some cases you may see a portion of your Academic Scholarship, for example, being replaced by a named endowed scholarship. The total dollar amount you receive between the two awards, however, will remain unchanged.

Recipients are chosen based on the criteria established by the donor, which include, but are not limited to: major, class rank, GPA, performance in a fine art, or residency. You may be contacted by the Advancement Office to write a thank you letter to the donor.

What happens if I withdraw or need to drop a class?

  • If you drop a class, it may affect the amount of aid you can receive. It is very important to visit your Financial Aid counselor if you are planning on dropping a class.
  • If you are going to withdraw completely from all your classes, your financial aid awards will be prorated according to the amount of time you were actually enrolled. It is possible that you may end up owing the University for a portion of your expenses incurred.
  • More information regarding this policy is available in the University catalog.
  • Please contact your Financial Aid counselor if you are considering dropping classes or withdrawing from the University.

Nathan Tappen Headshot Mobile Version Nathan Tappen Headshot

Nathan Tappen

Class of 2021

Nathan Tappen was undecided on a major when he became an Ambrosian in 2017, but “undecided” is OK. We offer more than 50 undergraduate majors, and Nathan was eager to explore. “I like the academic programs SAU offers, and maybe what I want to do in the future will be inspired by a class I take.”

See My Story

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Sarah Dennis, PhD, Department Chair

English Department
Ambrose Hall 322A
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 50 programs and 26 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!