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English graduates most employed LAS major post-graduation

The English Building is the home to the department of English, which places 95 percent of students after graduation.

The English Building is the home to the department of English, which places 95 percent of students after graduation.

Brian Bauer

Brian Bauer

The English Building is the home to the department of English, which places 95 percent of students after graduation.

Lauren Scafidi, Staff Writer

While the English major often faces a common stereotype, Head of the English department Vicki Mahaffey said there’s more to an English major than some might think.

“The stereotype the English major has is that you just read books and everyone can read books,” she said.

However, the students majoring in English accomplish more than just reading books.

“People don’t realize (the major) teaches you to read on such an intense level that you’re able to discover things you probably otherwise wouldn’t,” Mahaffey said.

According to the Illini Success report, English was one of the top majors to get jobs after graduation. Because English classes encourage students to think more critically, Mahaffey is not surprised at all.

Jacob Singleton


Eighty-three percent of English majors are employed post-graduation, while four percent are still seeking employment after graduation. The rest of the students are either volunteering or continuing education, according to the report.

The report is based on the 2015-2016 school year and surveyed students who identified 51 percent male and 49 percent female, with 53 percent white, 16 percent Asian, 14 percent international, eight percent Hispanic, five percent black, three percent multiracial and one percent other.

The average salary for the graduates was $36,161, which happens to be the lowest salary among other LAS departments. The department with the highest starting salary after graduation is astronomy and physics with an average of $62,489.

Even though there is a considerable margin between the highest and lowest mean salary upon graduation, English courses offer skills that courses in other majors don’t offer, Mahaffey said.

“In most disciplines people are schooled to think a certain prescribed way,” she said. “English teaches (them) to unlearn those habits of the mind.”

English courses teach students to develop a deep understanding of how to extract knowledge from facts, rather than just absorb facts for what they are. This process produces autonomy of the mind, skepticism, resistance to the norm and creativeness, Mahaffey said.


  • Richard Smith

    Meantime, journalism majors in the College of Media are rejected from jobs as demanding as throwing away potato peels in a burger joint.

    Even that job seems way too challenging for their critical thinking skills, honed carefully by the overpaid crooks in the College of Media faculty.

    Judging by their oversized looks (simply posting photos of the alleged female “journos” in the opinions section burned down the bandwidth for the whole Midwest, five years in advance), brothels wouldn’t hire Daily Illini columnists either. All those prostitution skills carefully crafted under the supervision of College of Media faculty pimps were for naught.

    Sad, really, but then life has its own sense of humor.

    • Joyce Mary

      Well, I was going to share this, but I think not now.

  • Fikenhild

    And that’s just post-graduation. English majors are also adaptable and those salaries will go up as times go on. They will still be able to communicate, and those communication skills will be always be critical as they progress in their chosen careers.

    • Im thinking of moving to Illinois xDD In Spain, bunch of people with my degree jobless. Very sad. And yes, the degree is just more than reading books, hey, we study Noam Chomsky. We also see History, French Literature, English Literature, Linguistics, English Grammar in an advanced level of syntax and tree diagrams bunch of them, morphology, reading bunch of books as well, bunch of papers, and mostable loving reading! This degree is for reading books and books

  • Michael MacBride

    As much as I love a lot of these ideas (heck, I’m an English major and an English professor)… there’s more to the numbers than the 83% figure. I tried to break it down here: