English Department

Liberal Arts Building 4210


Program Information

H. George Hahn, Ph.D., Chair                                 Phone: 410-704-5198
Christopher Cain, Ph.D., Assistant Chair               Phone: 410-704-3915
Deana Johnson, Administrative Assistant             Phone: 410-704-2871
Susan Weininger, Administrative Assistant           Phone: 410-704-2871
engl@towson.edu                                                      Fax:  410-704-3999

Programs of the Department


Professor Botkin TeachingEnglish offers students pleasure and profit, wit and wisdom, a sense of history and a vision of the future. English students know the delight of reading the best of British and American literature-authors as diverse as Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin and John Donne. The Department of English provides several programs tailored to diverse needs. Students majoring in English can concentrate in Writing, Literature or Secondary Education. Students pursuing other majors can minor in English or Creative Writing.


Each English major is assigned a faculty adviser, who assists the student in creating an individual program of study best suited to the student's interest and abilities. The flexibility of all programs, including majors and minors, allows the student a wide choice of courses within the department and possibilities for coordinating a program with another academic department.

The Department of English oversees the Master’s in Professional Writing program, offering unique post-baccalaureate opportunities for English majors and minors interested in pursuing careers in creative writing, technical writing, editing, public relations and teaching writing at the community college level. Geoffrey Becker, 410-704-5196, coordinates the program. The Department of English is one of four departments -- with History, Philosophy/Religious Studies, and Modern Languages -- that contribute to the Masters of Arts in Humanities program. This interdisciplinary degree offers students a chance to expand their foundation of knowledge across these disciplines and hone their researched, academic writing skills. Graduates use the program to prepare for junior college teaching careers, for transfer to a Ph.D. program, as a strength for law school admission, or for any career path that values strong writing combined with broad cultural and historical knowledge. Lana Portolano, 410-704-3770, coordinates the program.

Combined Bachelor's/Master's Program

Towson’s Department of English offers two combined programs for receiving both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in less time than it would take to pursue each degree separately.

The combined BA in English/MA in Humanities enables students in the literature track to substitute 9 Master of Arts in Humanities credits for upper-division English electives. The combined B.S./M.S. in Professional Writing enables students in the writing track to substitute 9 Master’s in Professional Writing credits for undergraduate workshop classes in the English major. Click below for details on admission procedures and requirements for each program.

Combined BS/MA in Humanities

Combined BS/MS in Professional Writing


Meeting General Education Requirements/Competency/span>


Every student in the university must complete ENGL 102 or ENGL 190 with a grade equivalent of 2.00 or higher in either course to satisfy the GenEd I.A/Core 2 requirement. Students may take additional courses to complete GenEd/Core requirements. Many 200-level and some 300-level courses fulfill GenEd/Core requirements. Philosophy, art, history, speech and theatre GenEd/Core courses provide especially effective background for an English major. Students are encouraged to select elective courses in these areas in addition to those which fulfill GenEd/Core requirements. Students may select any of the following advanced writing courses to fulfill GenEd I.D: ENGL 310; ENGL 313; ENGL 315; ENGL 316; ENGL 317; ENGL 318. For Core (9), students may select any of the following courses to fulfill the Advanced Writing Seminar: ENGL 310; ENGL 313; ENGL 316; ENGL 317; ENGL 318. Students may, of course, take additional elective units in English.


Some students will be required to complete special competency courses in language and writing in addition to meeting GenEd/Core requirements in English. Students for whom English is not a native language may be required to complete courses in English as a Second Language as a prerequisite to enrollment in ENGL 102 Writing for a Liberal Education (see International Undergraduate Admissions).



Records And Advising

To declare an English major a student must file a Change of Major/Minor Form.   A concentration/track must also be declared, at this time.  The department administrative assistant will assign an advisor and enter the information into PeopleSoft.

Meeting with an advisor each semester is a university requirement.  A hold will be placed on your registration until it is released by your advisor.

The advising requirement is a university policy designed to benefit you in several important ways:

  • To help you meet the Major requirements in ways best suited to your individual needs and goals

  • To clarify the many options the Major offers, including its several tracks, its interdisciplinary links, independent and Honors work, and the like

  • To enhance the development of your personal Major portfolio

  • To offer counsel in career-related options, from off-campus internships through future  employment

  • To help you consider graduate-level education

  • and, most importantly, to help us, your advisors, maintain the department's longstanding reputation for sincere, informed nurturing of its Majors.

Here's what you need to do: Be sure you HAVE an advisor. See Susan Weininger, LA 4210 P, if one has not been assigned to you.


Special Requirements for English-Education Students


Students in the English-Education Concentration seeking certification must register with the Secondary Education Department as well as the English Department. You will be assigned advisors by both departments. The Education advisor will assure that you meet all professional requirements (psychology, instructional technology, education, and student teaching). The English advisor will assure that you choose a pattern of English courses pertinent to teaching language arts or English curricula. As a student in English Education, you should be aware that certification and accreditation requirements specify that you must gain experience in the following specific fields through the courses you select:

  • College Writing or the equivalent.

  • An advanced expository writing course.

  • Specific study of non-western literature or culture.

  • Methods and Research

  • An upper-level course in grammar or linguistic study.

  • Knowledge of the History of the English Language.

  • An advanced course in American literature.

  • Experience with mythology, Shakespeare, literary history, and the literatures of American minorities.

  • Experience with European Literature.


The Portfolio for English Majors

The portfolio is designed to help you make the most of your English major by reflecting on the work you've done for it so far and future directions for your work. It's the requirement that every English Major maintain a portfolio of materials representing the work he or she did in completing the English major.

How you can use the portfolio

  • At job interviews

  • In applying for graduate or professional schools

  • In preparation for teaching

  • As part of a "Capstone Course"

  • In obtaining transfer credit at another institution

  • To foster an awareness of "the larger picture"--the connections among your courses

What the portfolio should include

  • Several expository papers, including analysis, criticism, research

  • Samples of creative work (poem, short story, GRUB STREET publication, etc.)

  • Tests you did well on

  • Tests in courses in which formal papers were not required (e.g., a grammar course)

  • Some indication of change and progress--e.g., a range from freshman to senior year

  • Papers written for a non-English course that you feel especially good about

  • Anything that demonstrates an important facet of your thinking, writing, or knowledge or skills

What the portfolio doesn't need to include

  • Every single thing you wrote during your entire stay at Towson University

  • Papers for a lot of non-English courses

  • Papers and tests you did badly on


Inclusions can be Graded or Ungraded. And bear in mind... 

The portfolio is a requirement for completing the English Major. Your Major adviser and your instructors will be glad to discuss the contents of your folder with you and make recommendations. ALL COURSES should be considered possible sources of portfolio-worthy material. However, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTAINING YOUR MAJOR PORTFOLIO ON YOUR OWN.



Departmental Honors

The English Department participates in the Honors Program in coordination with the Honors College. The department offers honors sections of introductory courses for students admitted to the Honors College. For all upper-division English majors in their junior and senior years, the department offers an alternative experience to the capstone course or the internship: the Honors Thesis. Completing a thesis allows a student to deeply study a topic in which she or he has developed an interest through course work or independent exploration. The thesis experience encourages the development of independent learning skills and often allows students to connect with faculty members across the department and university to discuss commonly held research interests. At the conclusion of the thesis semester, students will present their work in a colloquium at which their faculty advisor and additional readers will discuss the merits of the project. The invited public will be allowed to converse on the project as well. The thesis is generally 30-50 pages in length and results from at least one prior semester of instruction and/or independent study in the student’s chosen topic/..

Interested students with an overall GPA of 3.25 and a GPA of 3.5 in the English major should contact
the Thesis Coordinator, Dr. Erin Fehskens, efehskens@towson.edu,/ in their junior year.

Students who are currently working on Honors Thesis projects may find all necessary forms here.

Transfer Credit Policy


The Department of English accepts English credits from accredited colleges and universities. However, to meet GenEd requirements, students must either present 3 transfer credits in a college-level composition course, with a grade equivalent of 2.00 or higher, or earn a grade equivalent of 2.00 or higher in ENGL 102 or ENGL 190 at Towson University. Students registering in the department’s major and minor programs must complete a minimum of 12 units in Department of English offerings at Towson University.


Advanced placement and credit for prior learning


The department awards units through the Advanced Placement Program of the university. Also, a selected number of entering freshmen are placed in ENGL 190 rather than ENGL 102. The department offers units for most courses, other than upper-level writing courses, through the Credit for Prior Learning Program. Students applying for credit under this program complete an examination, an interview and at least one paper in the area.

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