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People trained in the humanities who study Shakespeare’s poetry, or Cezanne’s paintings, say, have learned to play with big concepts, and to apply new ways of thinking to difficult problems that can’t be analyzed in conventional ways.

Explore career pathways and learning outcomes in English

The time that you will spend studying literature– investigating and analyzing and debating its values and forms– is in many ways its own reward.  And luckily for all of us, employers know better than anyone just how valuable that reward is.   

Research from the fields of business, policy, government, education, administration, and even medicine has convincingly shown the marketability of the skills acquired in an English degree. Literary study equips students with advanced skills in communication, persuasion, and presentation; high-level experience in the research, analysis, and evaluation of complex information; innovative and creative problem-solving; and the ability “to play” with “big concepts” in a productive and disciplined way. As the world of work changes almost by the day, employers increasingly prefer lively, creative, and adaptable employees over ones with specific and often short-lived vocational skills.  

An undergraduate degree in English can also serve as a strong foundation for post-graduate qualifications in law, management, information studies, and other professional fields. Recent graduates in English from the University of Ottawa have pursued successful careers in publishing, journalism, public relations, advertising, web design, museums and archives, education, human resources, commerce, and law. 

Want Innovative Thinking? Hire from the Humanities. Harvard Business Review, March 31, 2011

Learning outcomes

General Skills           

  • Outstanding communication skills, in oral, print, and multi-media formats.  

  • Expertise in the research and analysis of complex information.  

  • Initiative, creativity, and innovation in problem-solving.  

  • Ability to develop and sustain complex, persuasive arguments.  

Specific Skills  

  • The ability to locate ideas, customs, and cultural artifacts in their social and historical contexts.  

  • An informed sensitivity to alternate perspectives, arguments, and worldviews.  

  • A deep understanding of language, its forms, and its uses.  

  • An awareness of how changes in media change design and effect.  

Our Co-op Program  

Students at the University of Ottawa also have the opportunity to take part in one of the best English literature Co-op programs in the country.  Balancing academic study with paid work-placements, Co-op students spend a total of four semesters working with employers in private and public sectors, in roles that include writing, editing, research, analysis, and marketing.   

The placement rate of English students consistently runs at nearly 100%, with students taking up positions throughout Ontario, and as far afield as Vancouver, Calgary – even Paris, Amsterdam, and Malaga. Because of our location in the national capital, our Co-op program offers unmatched opportunities for students interested in public service careers. Recent employers of English co-op students include Bombardier, Foreign Affairs, Alcatel, Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the City of Ottawa, and many more.   

More information about applying and the program’s

The list of skills below can then help in the process of choosing occupations that best fit your education and aptitudes and it can also be used to communicate your employability.  

Career Paths for English Majors  

Here are some examples of jobs where an English degree may be useful:

  • Public Relations  

  • Teaching  

  • Library Science and Technology  

  • Public Policy Research and Analysis  

  • Communications and Analysis in Federal and Provincial Governments  

  • Technical Writing  

  • Consultancy and Project Management  

  • Information Technology  

  • Writing for Digital Media  

  • Journalism  

  • Curatorial and Archival Professions  

  • Human Resources  

  • Legal professions and Law School  

  • Professor of English or other Humanities Fields (via Graduate School)  

  • Social Work  

  • Broadcasting  

  • Marketing and Promotions  

  • Editing and Publishing  

  • Event Planning  

  • Public Speaking, Speech Writing  

  • Community Development 

From around the web: the value of an English degree