Recommended Programs for English Major

Majoring in English facilitates an understanding of the complex connections between language and society, culture, history, and art. Few educational experiences are more powerful than a first-hand encounter with a different culture.

Study abroad is an exciting way to discover unique approaches to the study of literature while enhancing your professional and personal skills. Through study abroad you can experience first-hand the cultures that create literature and gain a new perspective on the world’s use of language.

As an English major, many study abroad options are available for you.  From short-term, faculty-led programs to full-year enrollment at a foreign university, there are plenty of opportunities to earn credit toward emphasis areas and historical period requirements.

You can also fulfill English elective requirements, take General Education classes, or explore general electives in subjects that interest you. Other exciting opportunities include language study and internships.


Your initial year at the University of Iowa might be best spent taking the English Department Gateway Course, beginning a language, or working on General Education Program requirements.  Also, the transition from high school to college is a big one.  Study abroad might be best left for a little later, as early as the summer between your first and second years.


This is an excellent time to complete General Education Program requirements overseas, begin or continue your language requirement, and begin working on your area or period English requirements, not to mention your English electives.


What applies to sophomores also applies to juniors.


This is a good time to finish up any outstanding area or period requirements and to complete English electives.

General Education and Electives

Most study abroad locations will offer coursework that will count towards the General Education requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requires that all majors acquire either fourth-semester competency or the departmental equivalent in a foreign language. If you need to complete your foreign language requirement, you could consider studying abroad to immerse yourself in a language and complete this requirement in as little as one semester.

Taking elective courses abroad is exciting because you have the chance to explore a topic you could never study in the U.S. Study Abroad approves GEP courses, so please talk to an advisor.

English Major Requirements and Electives

Study abroad is an excellent way to fulfill these elements of the English major.  Classes offered by our partner universities will provide you with a perspective that is unique to the country and culture where you are studying and that will augment the perspectives you receive in the U.S. classroom. Take a look at the requirements for the major and consider classes you would find interesting to take abroad.

The Gateway Course: 008:005 Introduction to the English Major: Theory & Practice of Literary Study should be met at the University of Iowa, generally during your first year as an English major.  It is not possible to take this class abroad, so it should be completed as early as possible.

According to Robyn Schiff, director of undergraduate creative writing, there is no downside to a study abroad experience. Whether you are studying poetry, fiction, essays, playwriting or translation, students in the Creative Writing Track will find an abroad experience enriching to both their personal and academic life. Study abroad provides students with the opportunity to write and study writing in a setting that inspires them to engage with language in a whole new way. Study abroad combines the development of one’s own creativity with an expanded critical awareness of literature’s inherently global context and the chance to participate in one of the many thriving communities of writers that exist all over the world.

The programs listed below are administered by the University of Iowa and are based at foreign universities with comprehensive English departments, or are short-term faculty-led programs.  At the end of the list is a link to a study abroad clearinghouse containing information about non-UI programs.

Consider the possibility of studying Kiwi Lit in New Zealand, or the rich tradition of island literature in western Ireland.  Studying overseas lets you take classes you would probably never be able to take here at home.

And for a special treat, consider taking American literature classes abroad.  You may gain perspectives unimagined in the U.S. classroom.

While we suggest you look at these highlighted programs first, feel free to browse the programs section of the Study Abroad website, explore an online directory of study abroad programs, and consult materials in the Study Abroad Resource Room.

Semester & Year-Long Programs


University of KwaZulu-Natal Exchange
This exchange program offers undergraduate students an opportunity to study for a summer, semester or academic year at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. The Summer Session offers special classes that provide an introduction to South Africa from a variety of academic perspectives, including political science, history, literature, theatre, art history, and ethnomusicology.  Academic Term Session students will be enrolled in regular University of KwaZulu-Natal courses.


Regents Semester in Australia
The Iowa Regents Semester in Australia offers undergraduate students an opportunity to study for a semester at the University of Newcastle or the University of Tasmania.  Participants are fully integrated academically and socially with their Australian peers.  A large selection of English course work is available, including creative writing.


The Iceland Exchange Program is a reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and the University of Iceland, which has an excellent English department. This program is suitable for English majors who have some background in literary theory and analysis. Study the medieval Sagas in Iceland for a complex, interculural experience, or modern Icelandic literature for a taste of what's new in Europe.


Semester in South India
Located in Mysore, in the southern state of Karnataka, the University of Iowa’s Semester in South India program allows students to explore India’s rich classical heritage and the contemporary forces that are rapidly reshaping this powerful nation. Students take program classes that focus on Indian culture and history.  During the final month of the program, students undertake a research project of their own design.  Past examples have included creative writing responses to the Indian experience, and a literature-based readings course.


Iowa Regents Semester in Cork
This semester or academic year program offers students the opportunity to enroll in a wide range of courses in a variety of disciplines at the University College Cork, one of the oldest universities in Ireland. Students are fully integrated academically and socially with their Irish peers. The University College Cork was founded in 1845, and over 12,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students take courses in more than 60 different departments.

Marie Gernes


John Cabot University Program

For information about the John Cabot University Program, please contact an advisor in the Office for Study Abroad.

Phone: (319) 335-0353


United Kingdom

The UK Exchanges
The UK Exchange Program is a reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and the Universities of Hull, Lancaster, Birmingham, and Strathclyde.  The program allows UI undergraduates to undertake a year of study in England or Scotland while fully integrated with local students in student housing and regular classes. Direct enrollment at the host institution is particularly suited to students prepared to take upper-level course work in both their major and/or a secondary field of interest.

Iowa Regents Semester in Scotland
This semester or academic year program offers undergraduates the opportunity to enroll in a wide range of courses in a variety of disciplines at the University of Edinburgh, one of the finest universities in the United Kingdom in one of Europe's most exciting cultural centers. Students are fully integrated academically and socially with their Scottish peers.

The University of Edinburgh is a venerable institution -- founded in the 1850s -- and has forged a special position in academia. Its national and international reputation is excellent, and it has a large, diverse, and multinational student body. It is Scotland's leading research university and is ranked 5th overall out of 115 U.K. institutions.

Semester at Queen’s University Belfast
Known for its excellence in undergraduate programs, the Queens University of Belfast ranks with the best of the UK's "red brick" universities, established in 1845 by Queen Victoria. With a strong interest in interdisciplinary studies and with new additions to their already impressive range of courses, QUB has established itself as one of the most progressive educational institutions in the United Kingdom.

Iowa Regents Semester in Wales
The Regents Semester in Wales offers undergraduate students an opportunity to study for a semester at a British university. Students are integrated academically and socially with their British peers at the University of Wales-Swansea. The program begins with a three-week course on British life and politics, after which students enroll in regular courses offered by the university.

The University of Bristol
The University of Bristol is one of the top academic institutions in the U.K. and boasts an excellent English department.  The city is the largest in SW England, about 90 minutes west of London by train.  Study abroad participants enroll directly into courses offered to degree-seeking students.  This program is administered by USAC, a consortium of which the UI is a member.

The University of Reading
Another top-notch British university with a strong English department.  Direct enrollment in classes taken by British degree students.  Reading, population 140,000, is situated on the River Thames about 40 miles west of London and 25 miles southeast of Oxford.  This program is also administered by USAC.

Short-Term Programs

The Irish Writing Program
This is an intensive creative writing program centered in Dublin. It carries 6 s.h. of credit: 3 s.h. of Dublin Writing Workshop, and 3 s.h. of Irish Literature and Drama. Both courses are applied to English major credit. The workshop focuses on prose (fiction or creative non-fiction), although poets who wish to experiment with prose are also encouraged to apply. In addition to a rigorous academic program, students have the opportunity to participate on weekend excursions to the west coast of Ireland and attend cultural and literary events in Dublin.

London Performance Study
London Performance Study is designed to provide students with an intensive introduction to theatre in London, with English and Theatre Arts majors recieving credit towards the major.  At present there are approximately 50 central theatres in London offering musicals and classic plays as well as more than 60 recognized fringe venues specializing in experimental productions.

Literature & Culture of the Middle Ages in England
First offered during the winter session of 2009-10, and led by Prof. Jonathan Wilcox of the UI English department, this 3-week course divided its time between London and Durham, examining medieval texts and locations. Tentative plans are to offer the class again during summer 2011.