The English program awakens students to the individual and collective voices expressed through literary arts, cultivating a profound understanding of the human (and sometimes nonhuman) experience. You will explore the many ways people cope with life’s challenges and celebrate its beauty through stories and poetry, becoming well-versed in the power of literature to both respond to and shape social, cultural, and political change. You will also grapple with the big and often unanswerable questions that have fascinated people for centuries, developing the freedom and flexibility of thought to approach the world consciously.

By wandering the world and encountering multiple cultures through story and verse, you will learn to see your home anew. Our majors and minors gain advanced capacities for self-reflection, compassion, critical thought, and cultural awareness. Equipped with the highly transferable skills required for clear writing, incisive analysis, thorough research, and creative vision, our graduates enter the workforce as experts in one of humanity’s oldest technologies: language.

What You'll Study

The English Program’s well-rounded curriculum covers multiple genres of literature from a variety of cultures and time periods, and all of our courses help students hone their technical skills in close reading, persuasive and engaging writing, careful editing, and rigorous research. English majors also have the option to enroll in the MAT 4+1 program and earn both a BA in English and a Master of Arts in Teaching in only five years.   

For students interested in penning their own literature, our Creative Writing minor trains students in the arts of poetry and fiction and offers opportunities to study other forms through special topics courses such as Speculative Fiction, Experimental Forms, and Nature Writing. In our craft classes, you will learn to write across vast terrains of human thought and emotion—and perhaps encounter some non- or more-than-human beings along the way. Moreover, all majors and minors have the opportunity to contribute to Ragweed, the literary journal of Lees-McRae College.

Beyond the Classroom

Students in the English program have participated in the following jobs and internships while studying at Lees-McRae: 

  • Staff writer and photographer, Avery Journal-Times, Newland, North Carolina
  • Staff writer and photographer, Avery Post, Newland, North Carolina
  • Intern, Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library System
  • Intern, Galax Public Library, Galax, Virginia
  • Administrative Assistant, New Opportunity School for Women, Banner Elk, North Carolina
  • Assistant Student Director, Burton Center, Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, North Carolina
  • Intern, The Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, Boone, North Carolina


A literary journal of Lees-McRae College

Volume V: 2023–24

Volume IV: Spring 2023

Volume III: Fall 2022

After Graduation

“What will you do with an English degree?” Most English majors have fielded some version of this question at one point or another. English degrees are widely viewed by leaders across a variety of industries as one of the most versatile and valuable. We live in an information age, and many sectors seek employees who can sift through, organize, and interpret large amounts of information, and then translate those findings in a way people can understand. Aside from writing, publishing, and teaching, English majors frequently end up in careers as lawyers, doctors, psychologists, and analysts.

Possible career paths for English majors include, but are not limited to, the following: 

Career information is provided through Vault and O'Net. Current Lees-McRae students can see the full results on Vault using their student email and password. 

What follows is a list of famous people with English degrees who aren’t writers or teachers (though the world still needs plenty more of those!):

  • Thurgood Marshall (former Supreme Court justice)
  • Carol Browner (former head of the Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Michael Eisner (former CEO of Disney)
  • Rollo May (psychologist)
  • Emma Watson (actor)
  • Barbara Walters (journalist)
  • Conan O’Brien (comedian and talk show host)
  • Paul Simon (musician), Sally Ride (astronaut and physicist)
  • Thomas Merton (Trappist monk)
  • Benjamin Spock (pediatrician)
  • John Legend (singer)
  • Ted Turner (founder of CNN)
  • Kathryn Fuller (former CEO and president of World Wildlife Fund)
  • Eric Kandel (Nobel Prize Winner in medicine)

Alumni Success

Creative Writing Pine Manor College
Education Liberty University, Virginia
Law School University of Tennessee
Library School University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Novelist Boone, North Carolina
Graphic Designer The Erwin Record, Erwin, Tennessee
Assistant Managing Editor Solstice Literary Magazine
Tennis Coach Parkside Tennis Club, Windsor, Ontario
Sales Manager Goodwill Industries, Asheville, North Carolina
Manager Lowe’s Hardware, Hampton, Virginia
Independent Sales Consultant Norwex
Snowboard Instructor Beech Mountain Ski Resort, Beech Mountain, North Carolina

Meet the Faculty

Silas "Sy" Heying, PhD
Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator for English

Catherine Childress, MA
Program Coordinator of Rhetoric, Director of the Stephenson Center, Instructor

Abby Arnold-Patti, PhD
Associate Instructor of Communications and Media Studies

Rachel Ewing
Assistant Professor of English

Joseph R. Worthen
Visiting Assistant Professor of English

Nora K. Augustine
Director of the Ratchford Writing Center, Assistant Professor of English

Ready to take the next step?

We're glad to hear that! Our admissions office is ready to guide you through the process.