Department of English

Major with Distinction

The English Major with Distinction (EMD) is a challenging and well-rounded program of academics, scholarship, service and literary studies.

This high-profile award goes only to graduating English majors and confers recognition for meeting its rigorous criteria. In addition to presenting at conferences, publishing articles and organizing literary events on campus and in the community, members of the program and recipients of the award will be recognized each year at the English Department’s awards ceremony.

The EMD program provides a framework for students to develop exceptional skills in advanced scholarly work, language training, writing, tutoring and service, all of which are beneficial for those planning to attend graduate school.

Completion of the EMD program is a verified mark of achievement and excellence. For potential employers, the EMD will be a sign of leadership, hard work, commitment to success and a skillset of the highest quality.

  • Applicants must have completed between 45 (advanced sophomore) and 75 (rising junior) credits.
  • Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
  • Applicants must have recommendations from two full-time English professors who have taught them in major courses.
  • Applicants must participate in at least one of the following campus groups or honor societies: Alice Randall Writing Center, The Captain’s Log, Currents, Virginia Association of Teachers of English (VATE) or Sigma Tau Delta.

Academics

  • Students must have a final cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
  • Students must complete a minor or major in another discipline or be a member of either the Honors Program or the President's Leadership Program.
  • Students must earn a grade of A- or higher for the Senior Seminar.

Scholarship

  • Students must present at least one scholarly paper at an academic conference, such as Paideia or Marcus.
  • Alternatively, students could publish a scholarly paper in a venue, such as The Cupola, The Rectangle or The Sigma Tau Delta Review.

Service and Participation

  • Students must document at least 15 hours of service each semester while in the program.
  • Department, university or community service must total 45 hours of service by the time of graduation.
  • Students must take a leadership role in at least one campus organization.
  • Forms of service and participation:
  • Attending English Department and English Department-sponsored events
  • Participating in Sigma Tau Delta and VATE events
  • Working on The Captain’s Log, Currents or other Student Media Board-approved group.
  • Completing ENGL 491 with a grade of B or higher
  • Working with a faculty member on a research project that is not for a major course
  • Staging a poetry reading in a public space, like the David Student Union
  • Staging a marathon public reading of a long literary work
  • Leading a discussion of a literary work for a class in which the student is not enrolled
  • Leading reading discussions at local public libraries Forming and leading a book club.

Portfolio

  • Students must present their portfolios at the end of the semester prior to graduation.
  • The portfolio should contain:
  • A current unofficial transcript
  • Scholarly papers presented or published, along with relevant conference programs and title/table of contents pages of scholarly journal
  • A log that documents service and participation (can be in the form of a notebook or computer file)

Applications are available in the English Department office. Applications are reviewed twice annually. Deadlines are November 1 and April 1. Students will be notified of acceptance into the program at the end of either the fall or spring semester.

Students admitted must choose a mentor from a member of the English Department faculty. The mentor’s duty is to guide the student through the program toward completion. The student’s responsibility is to maintain regular contact with the mentor in order to document progress through the program.

An executive committee, made up of three faculty members from the English Department, oversees the program. The committee handles applications, admissions, and the final review for the awarding of the honor.

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