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Grand Valley State University    
2014-2015 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog 
  May 21, 2019
2014-2015 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

English - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences  in this catalog.


The primary aim of the English program is to contribute directly to the liberal education of our majors by developing an awareness of the richness of literature, past and present; of the power and complexity of language; and of the value of critical reading, informed interpretation, and effective writing. Thus, English majors learn to read and interpret literature from different historical periods and from different parts of the world, to write clearly, persuasively and analytically, and to study a variety of critical approaches to literature and language. Many of our majors also study English education, learning how to teach the skills of reading, writing, and interpretation to the next generation of English and language arts students.

The study of English at Grand Valley extends beyond the classroom, as well. Among other extracurricular activities, the department sponsors visits to campus by writers and critics and organizes faculty-led play-readings. Students who achieve a GPA of 3.0 or better and rank in the top thirty-five percent of their class are invited to join Grand Valley’s Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the National English Honor Society, which fosters interest in literature and language scholarship and in creative writing. The department also organizes an annual writing contest and holds a ceremony at which students are awarded prizes for excellent writing and other academic accomplishments. In addition, the department grants scholarships to English majors who demonstrate scholastic achievement and writing excellence.

Students who graduate from our department with a major or minor in English pursue careers in a variety of fields, including library science, law, teaching, writing, and publishing.

The English Department offers three emphasis areas: literature and language, elementary language arts education, and secondary English education. All majors choose one of the three areas.

Literature and Language

Students in the literature and language emphasis area study American, British, and international literature including literature in translation. They study the development of the English language, as well as critical approaches to literature and language, including modern literary, linguistic, and critical theories. In addition, literature and language students learn how to write analytic interpretations of literary texts and of linguistic phenomena.

Elementary Language Arts Education

The elementary language arts education emphasis area, in conjunction with the College of Education, certifies students to teach English in Michigan elementary and middle level schools (grades K-8). English majors in the elementary language arts education emphasis area learn current best practices in the teaching of the language arts. Students learn to integrate the language arts—reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing (visual literacy) within a curriculum designed to teach elementary teacher candidates to engage a diverse student body. Students also examine educational theory as it relates to the language arts and learn to apply literacy theory to their practice.

Note: Students seeking certification in elementary language arts education must have a 3.0 minimum GPA in English in order to be eligible to enter the College of Education for teacher assisting and student teaching.

Secondary English Education

The secondary English education emphasis area, in conjunction with the College of Education, certifies students to teach English in Michigan secondary schools (grades 6-12). Courses in the secondary English education emphasis area emphasize the teaching of literature and the teaching of writing and are rooted in the theory, research, and best practices of the English education field. Students learn how to engage adolescents in reading and responding to texts ranging from classics to contemporary and young adult works. Students also assimilate strategies for teaching the writing process to adolescents, learning how to design and assess meaningful writing assignments.  Finally, the secondary English education program equips students to teach in today’s schools by focusing on current issues such as standardized testing, urban education, English as a second language, censorship, technology, and more.

Note: Students seeking certification in secondary English education must have a 3.0 minimum GPA in English in order to be eligible to enter the College of Education for teacher assisting and student teaching.

Lake Michigan Writing Project (LMWP)

This National Writing Project site offers practicing teachers the opportunity to study the teaching of writing and hone their own writing skills during a Summer Invitational Institute, held annually. The LMWP Institute is listed as ENG 632, and will substitute for ENG 631 or EDR 631 in MA Degree programs. Prospective students should apply online at Those accepted will receive fellowships to cover the cost of tuition for ENG 632 and ENG 633.


The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts in English  

Master of Arts in English  

Master of Education Advanced Content Specialization in English  

English Minor