Whether you envision a career in teaching, practicing law, writing, library science or a bevy of other sectors, studying English at St. Ambrose gives you the professional skills and opportunities to master your craft.

Our graduates work as English teachers; as writers publishing works of prose and poetry; as lawyers in various sectors of law; as librarians organizing literature and reference material; as content contributors and specialists for websites, and many other sectors of work.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Small Class Sizes, Not Lecture Halls
  • Caring and Dedicated Faculty
  • Read Literature and Learn Writing in Fun and Creative Ways

students in class

students on campus walking

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 employers covet.

Read our English and Writing Major Fact Sheet (pdf)

More Information About Our English and Writing Programs

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 allow you to shape your degree to your interests. Electives include linguistics, African American literature, fiction into film, Shakespeare, poetry, memoir writing, and many others.

Most 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:

  • Serve on the student advisory board for Quercus, SAU's literary journal for fiction, poetry, and visual art.
  • Write for the SAU student newspaper, The Buzz
  • Study as a Fulbright Scholar
  • Join SAU's student club, English Pros(e)

You can explore careers and get real-world experience before graduating with our internship program that's coordinated by the SAU Career Center. Students have landed internships at area print and media outlets; communications and PR firms; nonprofit organizations, and others.

English Department faculty provide opportunities throughout the year to engage with visiting authors as well as the world around you through Study Abroad.

And if service is part of your plan, we are one of few universities in Iowa offering Peace Corps Prep, a program that makes you a stronger candidate for volunteer positions within the Peace Corps or other service programs. Employers value the skills and cultural worldview you gain in Peace Corps, and best of all, most students can earn the Peace Corps certificate without taking extra courses.

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 English education; practicing law; advertising, marketing, public relations, and communications; print, television or radio journalism; and technical writing.

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

Wait – med school? Absolutely. Majors from the humanities – English is one of them – have a higher acceptance rate (and higher MCAT scores) into medical school than science majors. And the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is purposely recruiting students from outside the sciences.


Sarah Dennis, Chair and Asst. Professor

Patrick Connelly, Professor
Philip Goldfarb Styrt, Teaching Fellow
Carl Herzig, Professor
Emily Kingery, Asst. Professor
Lindsay Schaefer, Instructor

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 I
Spring - Creative Writing Workshop and Irish Literature

Fall - British Literature I and Intro. to Literary Study
Spring - Creative Nonfiction 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). The SAU school code is 001889.

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)

There is no need to apply for the scholarships or grants below; students automatically are eligible if they meet specific criteria, although some may require a certain GPA to stay eligible.

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 Scholarships (2018-19)

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.

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

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

Athletic Scholarships

As a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), St. Ambrose can award athletic scholarships to student athletes. 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

Transfer Scholarships

Amounts are for transfer students entering St. Ambrose in the 2018-19 academic year.

St. Ambrose scholarships are awarded for fall and spring semesters only and renewable up to 120 credits of undergraduate study, which includes credits transferred to St. Ambrose from prior attendance. For example: If you transfer in with an AA/AS degree, you would receive a scholarship for two additional years at St. Ambrose.

For questions about any of the awards below, give our friendly Financial Aid Office a call at 563-333-5775.

Institutional Aid

Guaranteed Minimum Scholarship Award 

based on GPA (Grade Point Average)
3.5-4.00 GPA: $12,000 per year scholarship award
3.0-3.49 GPA: $11,000 per year scholarship award
2.5-2.99 GPA: $10,000 per year scholarship award
2.0-2.49 GPA: $8,000 per year scholarship award

Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society

Criteria: Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society membership
Award: $12,500/year for new transfer students, renewable each year up to eight semesters, including transfer hours. Scholarships awarded for fall and spring semesters only. GPA is based on 4.0 scale.

Out-of-State Grant

Criteria: non-Iowa resident
Award: $2,000/year

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarship

Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate; on-campus students only
Award: $1,000/year

Freeman Pollard Diversity Award

Criteria: accepted diverse student
Award: $1,000/year on-campus; $500/year off-campus

Athletics Scholarship

Criteria: performance and ability
Marching band scholarships also available
Award varies

Fine Arts Scholarship

Criteria: performance and ability in art, music, theatre
Audition or portfolio required
Award varies

Dual Admission Scholarship

Criteria: participant in SAU/community college dual admission program
Award: $1,000 maximum

Federal and State Aid

Federal Pell Grant

Criteria: based on financial need; file FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1
Award: $5,920 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

Criteria: based on financial need, priority to Pell Grant recipients. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1.
Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study Award

Criteria: based on financial need. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1
Award: $1,850

Iowa Tuition Grant

Criteria: based on financial need, Iowa residents only. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1, deadline July 1.
Award: @{Iowa-Tuition-Grant}

Carver Scholarship

Criteria: Iowa resident and entering junior, visit carvertrust.org for eligibility details, deadline April 1.
Award: $7,600 maximum

Outside Scholarships

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources, here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Another tip: Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Bee Central where we post more flyers and applications for outside scholarships.

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 60 undergraduate programs, 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 60 programs and 27 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!