Major Requirements



I'm thinking about (considering) being an English major. What course(s) should I take?

Students who are considering majoring in English are encouraged, but not required, to take EN120 as their W1. The “gateway” course (required course) for all English majors is EN200, which is taken either after completing your W1 or concurrently with your W1.

I plan to study abroad. Can I count courses I take abroad towards the major?

As an English major, you can count a limited number of study abroad courses toward your major requirements. We will accept toward the English major four courses taken during a year abroad (five only in extreme circumstances) or three taken during a semester abroad.  These totals (4 for a year, 3 for a semester) also apply to courses taken at another institution. You must consult with your advisor before you leave for approval and also discuss your senior year and remaining requirements.

What is Critical Theory?

Critical Theory is the study of language, literature, and culture.  You will gain mastery over an array of theoretical discourses and develop awareness of how underlying assumptions about representation shape reading practices.  Furthermore, you will learn to read complex arguments, recognize assumptions about interpretation and language, and use theoretical approaches and tools for interpreting the systems of representation that constitute culture.
Possible approaches include classical theory, cultural materialism, structuralism, poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminist theory, or postcolonial theory.

Can I take the senior seminar in my junior year?

Occasionally, when there is extra space in a senior seminar class, it will be opened to juniors. This is up to the specific professor. Most students prefer to take the course in their senior year.

Can I take courses outside the department?

Yes. There are cross listed courses from Theater and Dance (TD), Cinema Studies (CS), and American Studies (AM) that you can take as your electives. You may also take up to two literature courses in a Foreign Language.  Click here for additional information.If you are using the prior English major requirements, then this information applies: CL133 and RE117 count as “additional” courses.  Other low-numbered courses from other departments will be considered only on a case-by-case basis. Majors may count two of the cross-listed courses from TD (Theatre and Dance) toward their 200- and 300-level requirements.  No TD courses satisfy the pre-1800 requirement

If I want to adopt the new English major, how do I determine what field requirements my prior courses fulfill?

Refer to this chart.


Declaring English as your major



How are advisors chosen?

When you declare your major, the registrar’s office will assign an advisor to you. When your advisor is on sabbatical or on leave, you will be assigned a new advisor. When your original advisor returns, you will be moved back to your original advisor.

Can I change my advisor later?

You can change your advisor. Once you have the permission of the new advisor, the new advisor must contact the registrar’s office and the department chair to request that you become their advisee.


Enrolling in Courses



How can I enroll in an independent study?

When you have formulated a proposal for an Independent Study, discuss your proposal with the professor who you would like to “work with”. Once that professor accepts your request, you may register online and the professor will then approve the course.

How can I enroll in a literature focused Honors Thesis?

During the spring semester of your junior year, formulate a proposal for an honors thesis. This is usually a topic that you have already worked with in a prior course. Before May, discuss your proposal with the professor who you would like to “work with”. Once that professor accepts your request, you may submit your proposal online and the professor and the department chair will then approve the course. With their approval, you will be registered for EN483. Typically, students spend the summer doing their research and the fall semester writing their thesis.



I'm considering doing an honors thesis, where do I start?

This is your starting point: What is your thesis topic and which professor is knowledgeable in this area?

A student, who is interested in doing an honors thesis, will approach a professor with their idea for their thesis and if the professor is interested, the professor will ask the student to solidify their ideas into a draft proposal including primary and secondary sources. Once the student has done this, they will schedule a second meeting with the professor. After the second meeting, the professor/Honors Advisor will confirm a commitment to the student and make suggestions for revisions to the draft proposal in order for the student to generate the final proposal. The student will then be responsible to submit their final proposal to their Honors Advisor and the department chair by May 5th.

What is the minimum GPA Requirement for the Honors Thesis?

You must have 3.0 GPA and a 3.25 in the major at the end of junior year, which must be confirmed by the Registrar in June.

When is the deadline to submit my proposal?

By May 5 of your junior year you need to have secured a tutor (honors advisor) and written a formal proposal that defines the work to be done and the methods for achieving it. ANY APPLICATION RECEIVED AFTER MAY 5th, WHETHER FROM A STUDENT AT COLBY OR ABROAD, WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.


How much time do I have to complete my thesis?

The final draft of your thesis must be submitted for grading by the end of Jan Plan before classes begin for the spring semester.

An alternate option is to do a one-semester honors thesis (EN484f, four credits) in the fall semester, but your thesis must be completed by the last day of classes of the fall semester. Students who select this option must do their research during the summer in order to write the thesis during the fall semester. If you are interested in this option, please discuss the timing with your honors advisor.