Is it a good idea to major in English?
Table of Contents
Why Study English?
Around 1.5 billion people speak English, it is the most widely spoken language in the world. A bachelor's degree in English, however, requires more from you than good knowledge of English.
As a budding English student, you will develop the culture of one or more English-speaking countries through language and literature. After graduation, you will often work in the education sector. However, there are still a variety of other professional fields open to you. You can aim for a career as a journalist, interpreter or editor.
What study options do I have?
You can study English at many universities in Germany. Although the names of the courses differ, the contents of the courses are fundamentally similar. The following table gives you an overview of possible universities and degrees:
In addition to an overview of all English courses, the StudyCheck.de portal offers you authentic insights into everyday study life through experience reports from students and graduates.
The English course is reserved for universities, as research is at the fore here. However, over half of the 108 German universities offer English courses. At some faculties a compulsory internship is part of the English course, at some a stay in an English-speaking country is integrated into the course. The bachelor's degree in English is usually connected with the decision for a second major or minor subject. As a rule, there are other humanities subjects to choose from. If you would like to work in the private sector later, a combination with economics or computer science is interesting to increase your chances on the job market.
You should plan to study abroad or at least a semester abroad. A semester abroad is compulsory at some universities. In addition to the culture, you will get to know new people during a stay abroad and exchange ideas with native speakers. Countries such as the USA, Great Britain and Ireland are particularly popular for stays abroad. But Malta and the Scandinavian countries are also suitable for studying abroad. Thanks to the international ECTS system, not only can the credit points obtained abroad be recognized in Germany, but also the Bachelor of Arts degree obtained abroad. With an internship abroad, a year as an au pair or a language trip, you can also improve your English and add an interesting aspect to your résumé.
For example, what you can expect from studying abroad in English at the UCD in Dublin (Ireland), you can see in this video:
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Am I suitable for studying English?
Do you like reading and a lot and have devoured "Catcher in the Rye" and "Macbeth" in your English class? Do you prefer to travel to Great Britain because you are fascinated by the different dialects and the culture? Then studying English could be a good fit for you. Your written and spoken English should be very good before you start your studies, as the classes are held in English. At some universities you have to pass a language test.
If you want to study English at a university, the general higher education entrance qualification is usually compulsory. But masters or other professionally qualified people can also study English without a high school diploma. Some universities set a numerus clausus because the number of applicants exceeds the number of places. The University of Leipzig, for example, had one of the highest NC values with 1.7 in the 2013 summer semester. Most universities, however, have approved all of their applicants or have not even applied a procedure at all. At some universities, as an English studies student, you have to be able to demonstrate a second foreign language. Sometimes the Latinum is also compulsory.
What can I expect from studying English?
Before you start your English studies, you usually have to pass an assessment center test, which determines your language skills and then assigns you to appropriate courses. The first seminar is mostly intended for orientation. Here the lecturer gives you a thematic and content overview. In the first modules, you will mainly learn the tools of the trade for your English studies. In addition to various introductory courses in linguistics and literary studies, you can improve your English in special language courses.
Each university has different content for studying English. The following modules are often part of your schedule:
- Introductory courses in literary studies and linguistics
- Practical language exercises (e.g. translations)
- Linguistics (e.g. phonetics and phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax)
- Literary studies (e.g. Shakespeare's dramas, contemporary postmodern novels, romantic poetry)
You will also develop theoretical basics and a scientific and methodical approach. Some universities also offer additional qualifications such as intercultural communication. If you want to become a teacher, practical phases and didactics are integrated into your English studies.
The individual modules of the English course build on one another. This means that after the introductions to the individual departments, you choose advanced seminars and decide on a focus in the third semester. In addition to literary studies or linguistics, you can also partially focus on "cultural studies".
In addition, you are usually free to make regional restrictions and focus, for example, on Great Britain, North America or the former colonies. You can also decide on a specific focus when choosing your degree by taking a specialized course such as American Studies.
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Which degrees can I get?
If you have collected enough credit points with term papers, exams, oral exams and presentations, you can start with your bachelor thesis. Upon successful completion, the university will award you a Bachelor of Arts degree. You can then complete a Master of Arts degree. Possible further courses of study are, for example, Applied Linguistics, English Literatures and Cultures or North America Studies. If your career goal is a teacher at a public school, you must then acquire a Master of Education in order to obtain a teaching license. As a prospective teacher, you can still finish with the state examination at some universities.
After studying English
With a Bachelor of Arts in English, you do not receive any specific vocational qualification. However, during your studies you have acquired competence in knowledge management, intercultural specialist knowledge and analytical skills and can quickly familiarize yourself with new subject areas. With this knowledge and skills, possible occupational fields are widely diversified. Internships during your studies can not only help you with career orientation, but also offer you initial practical experience.
Which professional fields are suitable for me after graduation?
In addition to teaching, the largest field of work for Englishists, the following professional areas are also possible after your English studies:
- Education (teaching outside of school, e.g. adult education, teaching English as a foreign language)
- Journalism (press, radio, television)
- Culture (theaters, literature houses, museums)
- Book (book publisher, library, book trade, free editing)
- Archive and documentation
- Public relations, advertising, marketing
- Free economy
- Therapy and support (e.g. diagnosis and treatment of speech disorders)
- Science (university, research projects)
How do you start your career?
You should prepare for entry into professional life during your English studies with relevant internships and freelance work. After all, entry into a career is usually a bit more difficult for humanities scholars. Often there is simply a lack of explicit job advertisements for graduates of an English degree. Therefore, you should sharpen your profile through additional qualifications and expand your contacts through network maintenance. In the media and PR industry, entry usually takes place through internships, trainee positions or internships.
What career prospects do I have?
The career prospects for graduates of an English degree differ depending on the industry. In general, humanities graduates take a little longer than other college graduates to get permanent positions. If you decide to work in the media industry, you can look forward to an increase in jobs. The labor market is on the upswing, particularly in the area of online media. A good 65% of English studies students follow a master’s degree after completing their bachelor’s degree in order to improve their career prospects. You should choose the master’s degree based on your professional goal so that you can further specialize. If you would like to work at the university or in the archive, it is a good idea to do a doctorate after completing your master’s degree. Around 10% of English studies graduates do their doctorate.
What salary do i earn?
The future salary of an English studies graduate depends, among other things, on the state, gender and position. Due to the various professional fields, there is a very wide range of salaries among Englishists. The starting salary ranges from sometimes € 1,000 gross per month to € 3,500 per month. If you start a position as a trainee or volunteer, your starting salary can be lower. The table below compares the salary of Englishists in various industries.
|Average starting salary *|
|Publishing editor||2.200 €|
|High school teacher||3.100 €|
|PR consultant||2.400 €|
*) in gross / monthly
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