Department of Languages and Literatures



The term "English" encompasses several related areas including the study of the English language, the practical skills of using it, and the literature created from it. The department offers courses in basic and advanced language skills, including technical and creative writing; for students with special needs, reading and writing laboratories and developmental courses are available. Literature courses offer instruction in the understanding and analysis of "classic", popular, and contemporary works, including Continental and Asian, and their historical and cultural contexts. A student majoring or minoring in English may opt for the traditional liberal arts program, an education program, a creative writing emphasis or a professional writing and publishing emphasis. By developing the practical ability to think clearly, to read intelligently, and to write effectively, a major in English provides excellent preparation for business, teaching, government and professions such as law and medicine. In addition, we offer minors in English as a Second Language for those who plan to work with non-native speakers.

In preparation for graduate study in English, students should consult the requirements of the graduate school they plan to attend. Those anticipating graduate study should plan to study a foreign language at the undergraduate level since that is often a graduate requirement.

For information on English placement testing, see


ENGLISH 101, ENGLISH 102, ENGLISH 105, ENGLISH 161, and ENGLISH 162 do not count toward an English major or minor; however, ENGLISH 102 or ENGLISH 162, or ENGLISH 105 is a prerequisite for all upper division English courses.

A student majoring in English may select from these areas: Literature, Creative Writing, Professional Writing and Publishing, or Education.

Liberal arts students majoring in English are urged to fulfill the upper class writing requirements as early as possible and to complete at least one year's work in a modern foreign language. Valuable adjuncts to the English major are courses in library science, journalism, speech, theatre, public relations, or business.

Foreign Languages

Courses in foreign languages provide listening, speaking, reading and writing skills as well as an introduction to the literature and the culture of the peoples who speak them. The study of a foreign language may lead to a career in teaching or it may provide the student with a valuable supporting competence in many fields, such as business, public service, librarianship, social work, law, journalism, or the health professions. Reading knowledge of a foreign language is a requirement for many graduate degrees.

Placement Exam

Students who wish to continue studying Spanish, French or German but who have no prior university-level coursework in the language must take the appropriate foreign language placement exam and will be placed accordingly. (Contact the Testing Office, 262-472-5613.) The placement test is given to help the student select the proper course, but departmental advising is still recommended. Native speakers of these foreign languages should speak with the Foreign Language Coordinator regarding placement. Students of other foreign languages should speak with the course instructor about placement.

Credit for Previous Language Study 

The Department of Languages and Literatures grants up to 16 units in French, German, Japanese and Spanish (12 units in Chinese and Arabic) for previous language study or other language experience provided the student earns at least a “B” in a follow-up course at UW-Whitewater or another UW-System university. Students may enroll in any course except Phonetics (French/German/Spanish 310) and Conversation (French/German/Spanish 390) to receive retroactive credits (retrocredits) for previous language experience, and the "B" or higher grade must be earned in the first eligible course taken at the university level.

Certificates in Languages and Literatures