Undergraduate Program

About Our Program

200 majors, 50 minors, and more award-winning teachers than any other department at UH Mānoa

The Department of English offers a range of courses which fall into the fields of Literary Studies in English, Cultural Studies, Creative Writing and Composition and Rhetoric. The Department also has special emphases in Hawaiian and Pacific literatures, children’s literature, life writing and oral traditions.  The English major requirements are designed so that students take courses in a range of fields and historical periods but also have flexibility to take classes in their specific area of interest.

The Department also offers courses that prepare students for graduate school or the job market.  Students in ENG 405: Teaching Composition work as tutors in the Writing Center and implement the theories they learn about producing, teaching, and tutoring writing.  Those enrolled in ENG 495: Internship gain valuable hands-on professional experience in a field related to English studies. In ENG 497: Career Decision-Making for English Majors and Minors students are guided in crafting resumes and portfolios and have opportunities to practice important job market skills, such as networking and interviewing.  See the Courses page for detailed descriptions of these courses.

Here are some alumni we’ve heard from recently:

Veronica Freeman, MA English 2018, BA English 2016

Currently: Editor for HigherEducation.com

My English BA definitely taught me how to be an efficient editor. Learning how to write and edit go hand-in-hand. My coursework in the UH English department prepared me to work with different types of writing and all different types of writers, which is important for my job.

The most valuable part of the graduate and undergraduate program was learning to take constructive criticism well. In my current job, I receive feedback from other editors, writers, and managers daily. The English program taught me the invaluable lesson of taking feedback with a grain of salt and learning to integrate changes into my work. 

Brandon Galarita, BA English 2016

Currently: Teaching 8th Grade English Language Arts at Central Middle School and pursuing a post-baccalaureate certificate in teaching from UH Mānoa.

Attaining my English degree has helped me get to where I am today by preparing me to communicate my thoughts clearly and effectively both verbally and in writing. In addition, my critical thinking and research skills continue to challenge me as I grow into a more effective and reflective educator for the youth of Hawaiʻi.

Gregory Gushiken, BA English 2018

Currently: Pursuing a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego

Through the English major, I learned critical research skills, began to grasp theoretical frameworks, and develop an academic work ethic needed to matriculate in graduate study. From critiquing reproductive politics and marriage in Dr. Anna Feuersteinʻs Victorian literature class to tackling real-world social and political issues like Hawaiian sovereignty in my rhetoric classes, the English major prepared me to be a well-rounded researcher and teacher. In addition, working in the writing center acculturated me to the norms of academia and classes in creative writing pushed my critical academic writing processes.

Ciara Keamo, BA English 2019

Currently: Enrolled at the UHM William S. Richardson School of Law

I pursued an English degree because I knew that improving my writing and oratory skills would benefit me in my work as an attorney; moreover, law school requires a ton of reading, and one must have the ability to quickly comprehend and analyze what they read. The English classes have greatly developed all of the necessary skills I will need to excel in law school and in my future endeavors.

Ralph La Follette, BA Japanese & English Minor 2019

Currently: Teaching English in Japan
The English minor was an enjoyable experience as I worked with some really great professors who helped me tremendously with my writing ability.  They were able to assist me in honing my skills in creative writing, an area that I have found hundreds of hours of enjoyment, as well as correcting my academic writing to a more satisfactory level.

Thai Luong, MA English 2019, BA English 2017

Currently: College Advisor for the Steppingstone Foundation in Boston

I had tremendous growth as a graduate student at UH Manoa. I learned a lot from the wonderful and amazing English professors at UH who provided me the necessary skills to not only be a productive writer but to become a better person as well.

Laurabeth Merritt, BA English 2012

Currently: Chief copy editor for Ka Leo and pursuing an MA in Linguistics

Recently: Editor for Honolulu Publishing Company and lead media strategist for Make-A-Wish Hawaii

My bachelor’s degree gave me writing and reading comprehension skills that are astoundingly uncommon in today’s workforce. Diverse classes on a range of topics afforded me the opportunity to explore subjects I enjoyed, but moreover taught me to approach a vast array of diverse material from different angles, think critically and present arguments in a professional and natural fashion I did not think I was capable of.
While it’s possible I could have cultivated these skills at a different university, the UHM English department faculty is a goldmine of knowledge and mentorship. From professional editing to creative writing to rhetoric and composition, my degree not only enabled me to explore and critique the works of great authors, playwrights and other influencers, but gave me a network of professional support that propelled me to excel immediately upon graduation in the field of my choice — first as the editor for Honolulu Publishing Company, and then the lead media strategist for Make-A-Wish Hawaii before changing gears to pursue an advanced degree in Linguistics.
My degree continues to afford me unending opportunities years after graduation, and I would strongly encourage anyone with any natural aptitude for writing and a passion for the written English language to enroll at UHM. Forging connections and engaging with this incredibly skilled and supportive department was the best academic decision I have ever made.

Kasey Schmidt, BA English & Economics 2019  

Currently: Attending Northwestern University for Medill’s MS program in Integrated Marketing Communications

Recently: Worked in the Marketing Department of the Miami Dolphins (NFL)

My experience as an English major at the University of Hawaiʻi ignited my passion for strategic communication and branding. The exceptional professors within the department facilitated the construction of a rhetorical toolkit that I continually use within the marketing department of an NFL team and during my post-graduate education at Northwestern. From adapting Hawaiian shark legends for a children’s picture book to live-covering a sold-out men’s volleyball game on social media, I learned how to execute purposeful, targeted storytelling across multiple mediums throughout my time in the major. Although my career objectives are now shifting towards communications and marketing, my education through the English department at UH Mānoa proved to be the foundation I needed to succeed in the corporate world.

Zoë E. Sprott, BA English 2019

Currently: A student and mentoring teaching assistant in the UHM English MA program

The English BA has provided me a space to explore every facet of life in critical and meaningful ways. Although I entered the English program relatively familiar with creative writing, I was new to academic writing; thanks to supportive professors and lots of practice, I began to understand that my academic papers and my creative pieces were not as vastly different as I had once thought: both are valuable outlets for analysis and provide different pathways to understanding the world around us. Looking back, I can’t imagine a better field to devote myself to the pursuit of knowledge.

Madisyn Uekawa, BA English & Public Health 2017

Currently: Attending Seattle University School of Law

Recently: Published a novella relating to suicide prevention

In my legal career, the grammatical and analytical skills I obtained through my English degree have been irreplaceable. Undoubtedly, my degree played a significant role in preparing me for law school and continues to complement the work I do every day. Certainly, the most valuable part of the English program at UHM is its faculty. Throughout my undergraduate education, my professors challenged me to think critically and creatively. Although, more importantly, they offered me exceptional guidance and overwhelming support.