English Banner
Home / Academics / Arts & Humanities / English / Program Information

Program Information

Entrance Requirements

In order to declare an English major, student must meet the following requirements:

  • Be in good academic standing with the University.
  • Have passed both ENGL 101 and ENGL 201 with a grade of C.

Exit Requirements

In order to graduate with an English major, students must achieve an overall GPA of 2.25 and a GPA of 2.50 in the major. In addition, they must turn in a portfolio of their work for review by the English faculty, take an exit exam and participate in an exit interview. These requirements are discussed below.

A. Portfolio: You must bring to your exit exam and turn in, to Dr. Wallerstein, a portfolio of papers representing your work in various courses in the major. This portfolio will allow the English faculty to get a sense of your overall achievement in the major so that we can better understand both your progress and the English major itself. The portfolio must contain three papers, as described below.  Please make copies of your portfolio, for it will not be returned.

You should submit the following:

  • one paper from an English composition class or introduction to literature class taken during your first year of college;
  • one paper from a course taken in the middle of your coursework for the major, such as one of the survey courses or Shakespeare, or any number of other courses such as Young Adult Literature, Literature of the American West, etc.; 
  • one paper from late in your career, such as a 490 Seminar or 492 Special Topics course.

If you have not followed a course of study that exactly fits into this model, keep in mind that the most important issue is to give an early, middle, and late essay, whatever those classes may have been. Try to pick early, middle, and late essays that you feel best represent your growth as a writer and a student of English.

Feel free to contact Dr. Wallerstein for help selecting early, middle, and late essays, including making substitutions (which may be necessary for transfer students, for instance, who have lost some of their essays from earlier in their college careers).

In addition to the papers, you are required to write a two- to three-page, typewritten introduction to the portfolio and include that with the portfolio. This introduction should discuss the following points:

  • your own sense of your intellectual and creative growth as you progressed through the major;
  • the specific ways the papers you've included in the portfolio demonstrate that growth.

In other words, write a short analysis of how your writing and thinking in general, and specifically as concerns literature, have changed over the course of your studies in the major, and show how these changes are demonstrated by reference to specific papers in the portfolio.

IMPORTANT: We suggest that you keep all the papers you write for courses in the major, and make copies of the ones that you think are particularly significant (in case something happens to the originals). This way, when the time comes to gather the papers for the portfolio, you will be prepared.

B. Exit Exam: During the semester in which you graduate, you will be required to take an oral exit exam. This exam will be a formal discussion with two or three faculty members regarding your literary and critical interests. You will be scored on your ability to articulate an analytical response to ten texts of your choosing. The rubric for the exam is linked HERE.

C. Exit Interview: Immediately after your exit exam, Dr. Wallerstein will email you a questionnaire to fill out in which you will discuss your course of study, the portfolio, and the exit exam process. The purpose of the questionnaire is to gain information from you regarding your academic career as an English major, and to determine whether there are steps the department might take to improve the major.

Contact Info

Matthew Bauman
Senior Lecturer, Creative Writing
Phone: 605-642-1272

College of Liberal Arts, English
Black Hills State University
1200 University St.
Spearfish, SD, USA 57799