English (Literature, Rhetoric, and Writing)

The ability to communicate effectively and to understand hidden meanings and connotations makes studying English one of the most versatile skillsets. English students graduate with advanced skills in research, rhetoric, persuasive writing, and critical reading, and our graduates go on to careers in law, business, academics, government and non-profit work, teaching, writing, and more. We offer a broad range of opportunities to enhance your undergraduate studies including lectures with renowned writers and scholars from around the world, a reading series, and a robust internship program.

A number of exceptional voices have emerged from undergraduate studies in the UNM English department, including the first Indigenous writer to win the Pulitzer Prize (N. Scott Momaday), one of the foundational thinkers for the Environmental movement (Edward Abbey), and the first Native American to serve as the U.S. Secretary of the Interior (Deb Haaland).
See more Notable English Alumni

English Studies teaches both skills and content. The principal skills are independent critical and creative thinking, writing, and research. The content includes language and literature as products of and reflections upon a diversity of moments, places, and cultures. A major in English can lead to professional careers in teaching and literary research, archival and curatorial librarianship, publishing, journalism, advertising and the arts; as well as human resources, sales and marketing, management, and government work. Even when additional qualifications are needed, as in law, an undergraduate major in English is often a distinct advantage. 

As we are located in the Southwest, students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of courses, conferences, presentations, etc. that feature the locale. While we certainly have strengths in literature and writing on the U.S. Southwest, our faculty have diverse areas of expertise and students work closely with faculty to create their own program of study tailored to their own interests and goals. Our department has five primary field groups, but our faculty regularly work with those from other field groups and departments. You are welcome to stay primarily in one of the fields, or you can mix and match.

We want you to succeed, both at UNM and after you graduate, and we ask you to consider how you imagine using your English degree after graduation. You do not have to have your life planned out! It's a good exercise in applying your college education to life outside of the classroom, and asks you to be proactive about your own education.

We offer a B.A. degree, two minors to students outside of the major, and a certificate in Technical and Professional Writing. 

Creative Writing: We have a variety of creative writing workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. You are welcome to join these workshops, and will often be working alongside graduate students in these workshops. Additionally, we encourage you to attend readings with the English Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) program and read submissions for Blue Mesa Review. If you are interested in pursuing a creative writing MFA, we encourage you to work with a faculty mentor on a creative writing Departmental Honors Thesis, where you will have a chance to create a body of work that showcases your writing voice.

Rhetoric and Writing: Our faculty’s diverse specialties include technical communication, language diversity, second language writing, writing program administration, K-12 composition, visual rhetoric, and multimodal composition. Students in this area hone their persuasion and rhetorical skills and apply these in different areas depending on their interest. Our undergraduates can take part in an internship situated in a variety of non-profit organizations, institutions, and businesses. Our graduates have pursued a variety of career paths, including the following: technical writing, K-12 teaching, university professorships; grant writing; and commercial publishing and editing.

American Literary Studies: Since the 1940's, our English Department has been nationally distinguished for its contributions to American literary scholarship—a distinction that increased in the 1970's, when the Department became the center of the Chicano/a and Native American renaissance. American literary studies in the UNM Department of English Language and Literature focuses on nineteenth and twentieth century American literatures, with special areas of strength that include: 

  • Nineteenth-Century Literary and Cultural History 
  • Modernism and Postmodernism 
  • Chicana/o, Native American, and Southwestern Literary and Cultural Studies 
  • Poetry, Poetics, and Avant-Garde Writing 
  • African American Literature 

Like the greater southwest, American literary studies in English is a place where literary and cultural traditions meet: the nineteenth-century American renaissance and Mexican, Native, and African American literary histories; southwestern regionalism and modernity; postmodernism and contemporary Chicano/a and Native American literatures; fiction and poetry; poetics and film.

British/Irish Literary Studies: The faculty of British/Irish Literary Studies (BILS) have expertise and interest in several periods, regions, and approaches to literary study. We are scholar-teachers of Medieval, Renaissance/Early Modern, 18th- and 19th-Century, Modern, and Postmodern literature and culture. Within these periods we focus on English, Irish, and British canons; comparative literature, both Continental/European and Transoceanic; and colonial and post-colonial writings, including Caribbean, Afro-British, and South Asian. Bridging these periods and regions are our shared investments in identity, especially gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and class; in language and form; and in cultural and literary theory.

In our teaching and research, many of our faculty

  • employ feminist, queer, and critical race studies
  • explore genre, such as the novel, drama, poetry, and epic
  • are interdisciplinary, including collaborations with faculty in History, Political Science, and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.
  • are transhistorical, including studies of translation, appropriation, and adaptation. 

Medieval: see Medieval Studies 


The English minors are for students who want to broaden their understanding of literature and literary history and/or to enhance their skills in writing and critical analysis or Rhetoric and Writing. Like the major, the minor in English offers training and practice in writing, critical thinking, literary analysis, research, and the study of literary and rhetorical history. The skills and knowledge acquired in the minor may give students an edge in finding positions in education and research, publishing, journalism, professional writing, editing, advertising, public relations, and management. English minors also stand to gain in their academic experience in other disciplines, for the critical and writing abilities acquired through the study of English are valued in all disciplines. 

English: The Minor in English is for students who want to take a variety of courses in British and American literature, writing, rhetoric, and/or criticism and theory.

Technical and Professional Communication: The Technical and Professional Communication Minor is available for students in disciplines outside of the English Department. Students pursuing a Technical and Professional Communication Minor will glean experience across a series of required and elective courses that will challenge them to develop their writing skills and be prepared to write for professional contexts they will encounter outside of the classroom. The required courses offer a foundation through which students can develop skills as writers and editors while also getting a survey of opportunities available to them in technical and professional writing. 

Certificate in Technical and Professional Communication

The Technical and Professional Communication Certificate is available to English majors and students in other major discipline areas, and is particularly appropriate for students in STEM who would like to add credentials in Technical and Professional Communication to their transcripts. The elective courses invite students to hone their writing in one of several courses designed to offer students a taste of what a 21st-Century technical and professional communication professional can expect. Students are then expected to put their skills to work in one of two capstone courses designed to give them experience as writers, editors, or tutors. 

Undergraduate Program

Departmental Honors

UNM Catalog

Programs of Study


  • B.A. English Studies
  • English
  • Technical and Professional Communication
Certificates Available: 
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Technical and Professional Communication

Contact Information

Undergraduate Academic Advisor(s): 
Advisor office locations vary. Please click on your advisor's name below to learn more.
Advising Email:
Department Email:
Department Location:
Humanities (Bldg 81), Second Floor

Department/Program Website