Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English


Department of English Requirements

What are the minimum and maximum number of credits in English?

The English major requires a minimum of 36 semester credits. The maximum number of English credits is 40 semester credits. Any credits over 40 will necessitate the student taking an equal number of credits beyond 120 (or 123 if the student had to take MTH 1825) to graduate. Occasionally, the college advising office will allow a few additional credits in English, if the student has a well-rounded undergraduate program. However, the associate chair will need to request special permission from the college office for the student under those circumstances.

Which courses do not count toward the major in English?

Currently, students may not use ENG 126, 203, 204, 205, 206, 218, 221, 226, or 232 to fulfill requirements for the English major. English majors may apply only one 100-level English course (besides 126) to their 36 credits of English.

May ENG 490 (Independent Study) and ENG 493 (Internship) be used to complete the requirement for three upper-level courses?

Yes. ENG 490 may be used to fulfill English elective credits. ENG 493, the Internship course, may be used to fulfill the senior capstone requirement. (See below)

What is the senior capstone?

All students majoring in English must complete a 4-credit senior capstone, a culminating experience in which students do a project or course that integrates what they’ve learned. There are several options for the capstone:

ENG 484A, B, C or D – Intensive study in a certain genre, region, school or movement, literary period, or national literature

ENG 499 – Senior thesis, an independent research or creative project with an English professor

ENG 489H – Honors thesis, an independent research or creative project with an English professor, required for Honors College members

ENG 493 – Internship, a semester-long (summer, fall or spring) job experience using skills we teach in English classes, such as editing, proofreading, writing, communications, PR, marketing; students must work minimum 16-20 hours per week over the course of a semester.

ENG 400 + ENG 4xx level course – Student enrolls in approved ENG 4xx course and adds ENG 400 (Writing Intensive Unit) for one credit via a form available in the English department office

May transfer courses be used to complete English and cognate requirements?

Yes. Transfer credits that are not used to fulfill general education requirements may be used for English or cognate requirements if they are appropriate. The student must receive at least a 2.0 in a course at another institution in order to receive transfer credit. See the adviser for application of specific transfer credit.

How do majors in English fulfill the Tier II writing requirement?

The University’s Tier II writing requirement for the English major is met by completing one of the following: English 360, 362, 364, 368, 413, or 499.

How is the new film studies major different from the film studies concentration?

Students who did a film studies concentration, ending FS14, earned a BA in English with a Concentration in Film Studies. (Students who have not yet graduated and are in the concentration in film studiesshould see the adviser about options for finishing their degree.) The new film studies major is administered within the Department of English but has different course requirements, which are designated as FLM, rather than ENG. This is the first time in our department’s history to offer a second major!

What is the difference between a film studies major and a film studies minor?

Students who do a film studies major earn a BA in Film Studies, with 36-40 credits in the major. Thefilm studies minor is an elective for students in any major and requires 20 credits. Students who major in English may minor in film studies.

How is the new film studies minor different from the previous film studies minor?

Course requirements changed from the previous film studies minor (ending FS14) to the new film studies minor (effective SS15). Students who are coded in the film studies minor before SS15 can decide which version they want to complete. See the adviser about which version works best. Both minors are listed here.

Are film specializations (fiction film and documentary film) becoming minors since specializations are going away?

Yes. Students will apply for admission to the fiction filmmaking specialization/minor and documentary filmmaking specialization/minor in the spring semester. Please contact Professors Jeff Wray (wrayj@msu.edu) and Bob Albers (albers@msu.edu) for application information.

Can students major in English use FLM (film studies) courses toward their degree?

Yes. Students majoring in English may use FLM 450, 451 or 452 toward the diversity requirement, and FLM 230, 334, 355 or 455 toward the genre requirement.

College of Arts and Letters Requirements

What is the foreign language requirement?

The student must demonstrate second-year proficiency in a second language. Usually, the requirement is met by successfully completing the 100- and 200-level language courses or by placing into the third year on the language proficiency test. Students who want certification of second-year proficiency in a language that is not taught at MSU will need to find a professor who is fluent in that language and ask for verification of second-year proficiency from that professor. Such verification should then be sent to the Department of English for our records.

May students take their language requirement at another institution?

The language requirement may be taken at a community college or other university. If taken at a community college, the courses will not transfer to MSU if the student has more than 60 credits (junior status). In that case, the student may send to the adviser a grade report sheet indicating a passing grade in the fourth semester of the language at community college or take the language proficiency test in the testing office to become certified. In both of these instances, the student fulfills the proficiency requirement without actually transferring course credit.

What is the language proficiency test?

The language proficiency test is offered through the MSU Testing Office. Students may take an online placement exam to determine what level of course they should register for. But, in order to count as a demonstration of proficiency for the language requirement, this exam must be proctored. Contact the Testing Office (517-355-8385) to make arrangements for a proctored exam.

What is a cognate?

A cognate is an area of concentration outside of the student's major.

What are the requirements for cognates, and what are allowed for cognates?

Under the semester system, two cognates are required, a minimum of 12 credits each. At least one course in one of the cognates must be at the 300- or 400-level. Cognates are normally composed of courses from a single academic discipline, although other logical and interesting combinations are possible, such as interdisciplinary cognates in Women's Studies, Jewish Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, Classical Studies, etc. Neither one-credit Kinesiology (KIN) courses nor one-credit music activity courses can be used to fulfill cognate requirements. Language proficiency courses cannot be double-counted toward both the language requirement and the cognate. However, students may take more language courses beyond the 200 level to fulfill the cognate requirement, or they may take 100- and 200-level courses in a second foreign language. Previously, at least one cognate had to be outside Arts & Letters. This is no longer the case.

How does a student "declare" a cognate?

The student and the adviser work together to determine an appropriate sequence of courses to fulfill the cognate requirement. A proposed cognate must be approved by the adviser.

How many credits does the student need in upper-division courses in order to graduate?

Of the 120 credits required for graduation, a minimum of 30 semester credits must be at the 300 or 400 levels.

MSU/General Education/Integrative Studies (CIS) Requirements

What are the Integrative Studies/General Education Requirements?

Students are required to take four writing credits in WRA and 24 credits in CIS/general education. Integrative studies (CIS) requires: 8 credits:  Arts and humanities (IAH), including one “A” course (numbered (201– 209) and one “B” course (numbered 211 or higher with letter (example 211A, etc.)) 8 credits:  Social sciences (ISS), including one 200-level and one 300-level course 8 credits:  Biological and physical sciences (ISB/ISP), including one ISB course, one ISP course, and two lab credits.

How can transfer students complete the rest of their General Education requirements?

If transfer students have general education deficiencies, they must complete the rest of their general education requirements by taking integrative studies courses. No other substitutions are allowed.

What is the math requirement?

Beginning with the freshman class that matriculated Fall 1995, students, including transfers, will meet the math requirement either with a designated math placement test score or by completing MTH 103 and 114; MTH 110, 112, 116, 120, 124, 132, 152H, or 201; or STT 200 or 201. (Arts and Letters majors often prefer MTH 110 or STT 200 to other courses.) Credits in MTH 1825 are included in the computation of grade point average and in the total number of credits earned, but the credits are NOT included in the total minimum credits required for graduation. Therefore, students who complete this three-credit remedial course will need to earn a minimum of 123 credits for graduation.

Additional Questions May students take courses credit/no credit (CR/NC)?

Except for general education requirements and courses in the student’s major, any course may be taken as CR/NC. The limit is one course per semester, for a maximum total of 20 credits overall. Neither English classes nor general education courses may be taken CR/NC. The student must earn a 2.0 in the course to be able to receive credit for it. Students wishing to take a class credit/no credit should enroll normally and then notify the Registrar's Office by the first week of classes to change the course status to CR/NC.

May students take courses at other universities during their junior and senior years?

Students may take and transfer a maximum of 10 of their last 30 credits for graduation from another four-year institution. Students of junior or senior status will be allowed to transfer credits only from other four-year institutions. A guest application form (available in the Registrar's Office) must be filled out before taking the credits elsewhere.

What is the procedure for MSU students wishing to take credits at another institution?

Students can view MSU course equivalencies for commonly transferred credit at transfer.msu.edu. Please note that MSU may accept additional courses for credit; this Web site merely details transfer credit that MSU has accepted in the past. Students must have prior permission from the MSU department that will be accepting the transfer credits. Students wishing to take an English course not listed in ACTS IV at another institution (either in the United States or abroad), for example, must have the associate chair in English fill out the guest application form (available through the Registrar's Office) to determine course equivalencies for transfer purposes. Students planning to transfer any courses are urged to consult with the English adviser before enrolling in the class in order to ensure that the course will transfer appropriately.

Do students have to retake courses in which they receive a 1.0?

In most courses, 1.0 is a passing grade. In order to graduate, a student's overall cumulative GPA and major GPA must both be 2.0 or higher. A grade of 1.0 in either a general education class or in an English class is therefore satisfactory provided that the cumulative GPA and the English GPA remain at least a 2.0.

May students repeat courses in which they have not completed the work satisfactorily?

Students may repeat up to 20 credits of work in courses in which they received below a 2.0. Their transcripts will indicate both grades, but the grade received in the repeat course will be the one that is figured into the GPA.