Our Mission

The programs offered by the Department of English provide an opportunity for a truly liberal education, one that encourages both self-discovery and an exploration of enduring ideas. The curriculum includes courses in composition, rhetoric, literature, linguistics, and critical-thinking strategies. The Department also supervises the First-Year Composition Program, which fulfills the university's General Education Requirement in written communication.

The English Department's mission is to prepare students to succeed in an increasingly diverse world. The Department is devoted to an innovative curriculum that encourages lifelong learning, critical thinking, and effective writing. We teach students to see textual work as an engagement with history, convention, culture, and place so that they can participate responsibly in a changing regional and challenging global environment. In particular, the Department is concerned with Alaskan cultures, the North Pacific Rim environment, and the intersection of networked technologies and forms of textuality. At the undergraduate and graduate levels, the English Department also strives to familiarize students with a full range of literacies - written, digital, and visual - so that they may become active and well-equipped citizens.

To address this mission, the Department offers three emphases in the undergraduate major: literature, rhetoric and language, and secondary education.

  • The Literature option focuses on significant examples of literature from different places, periods, and genres as well as the social and geo-cultural forces that shape them.
  • The Rhetoric and Language option focuses on rhetorical strategies and techniques of composition, emphasizing historical, theoretical, and linguistic perspectives. 
  • The Education option prepares students for teaching literature and writing at the middle and high school levels as well as for admission to UAA's Master of Arts in Teaching program.

All options prepare majors to conduct research in the discipline and to write for a variety of purposes and audiences. In addition, each option offers the opportunity to earn honors in English. The specific educational outcomes that support the undergraduate program objectives are to produce graduates who are able to:

  • Read closely,
  • Interpret texts analytically,
  • Conduct research effectively,
  • Weigh evidence critically, and to
  • Write coherently.

The Department also provides a variety of minors (Literature, Linguistics, Professional Writing, and Creative Writing and Literary Arts). The Literature minor enhances the experience of students majoring in other subjects by providing a study of significant authors and literary works as well as by developing skills in writing and critical analysis. The Professional Writing minor prepares students to interpret and present complex information in a readable form to various audiences using a variety of media. The Linguistics minor is designed for non-English majors who wish to build a foundation in linguistic studies for complementary majors, such as Anthropology and Languages, and for those who are interested in the study and teaching of languages. The Creative Writing and Literary Arts minor allows students to explore the crafts of fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry and dramatic writing in an intensive series of workshops taught by active writers in the genres.

Masters Program


To further address its mission, the Department of English also offers a 36-credit Master of Arts in English emphasizing balanced coursework in literature, rhetoric, composition, and language theory. This degree prepares students both to pursue a more specialized PhD program and to take a variety of jobs in teaching, writing, editing, and related fields. Students take three required courses: Contemporary Literary Theory (ENGL A602), Advanced Research and Professional Practices (ENGL A689), and Thesis (ENGL A699). Teaching Assistants (TAs) also are required to take ENGL A687 (Composition Theory and Practice). Otherwise, students enjoy significant flexibility in designing their degree. The degree culminates in the master's thesis, a thoroughly researched and carefully argued article-length work that demonstrates the student's academic achievement and enables students to take on a variety of professional roles or to pursue advanced study. The specific educational outcomes that support the graduate program objectives are to produce graduates who are able to:

  • Address precisely articulated critical questions,
  • Demonstrate deep familiarity with print and electronic scholarship,
  • Apply detailed evidence to support claims,
  • Utilize field-appropriate theories and methodologies effectively,
  • Write analytically according to disciplinary conventions, and to
  • Document fully according to disciplinary stylesheets.

Competitive teaching assistantships are also available. Contact the English Department for details, deadlines, and applications.