Careers and English Alums

Our graduates often tell us how well the English major prepared them for a variety of careers “to serve with distinction for the common good.” Through classes, co-curricular activities, internships, study abroad, and interactions with their professors, English majors learn to discern their vocation as they develop into “whole persons equipped to understand and confront a changing society” (Luther College Mission Statement).

What do English majors do after graduation?

The English major at Luther College prepares students to be successful in a variety of careers through the skills they master in our curriculum. Students majoring in English learn to read literary works which develop their ability to think critically and respond to human experiences both familiar and alien. Through continual practice in writing, our majors learn how to use language for creative and analytical purposes, as well as how to research and document ideas. In short, English majors develop useful and transferable skills for any career: careful reading, clear writing, solid research, and thoughtful analysis.

According to a recent English Department study, our graduates pursue and are successful in six main areas: business, publications, teaching, library services, the arts, and higher education.

Many of our English graduates find work in business, demonstrating that the skills learned in the English major are useful beyond the classroom. English graduates occupy work in business at a variety of organizations. One graduate is the Vice President of Asset Management at a capital management firm in the Twin Cities. Another is a CEO of a firm that helps businesses and organizations retain workers and develop leadership within their workforce. One English graduate is even the manager of social media operations for the United Nations in New York City. English graduates often find work in the communications part of business, with several graduates working in media relations.

A substantial portion of English graduates find work in the field of publications. Graduates are employed as reporters for small town, midsize, and metropolitan newspapers, covering a range of issues including business and agriculture. Graduates find work in reporting for TV stations in substantial media markets. They are also employed as editors for a range of organizations, ranging from technical editors to executive editors for well-known online media organizations. Some graduates combine their writing and editing skills, such as one who writes and edits public relations publications for a liberal arts college.

Numerous graduates choose to pursue careers in teaching. Luther offers a secondary education certification to complement the English major, and our majors have been very successful in finding positions. English graduates teach at all levels of the school system, from preschool to post-secondary. Graduates are employed as literacy tutors in preschool programs, English teachers in high schools, and professors at colleges and universities. Graduates find teaching work abroad as well as in the United States in places such as the United Arab Emirates and China.

English graduates are also pursuing careers in library and information services, serving a variety of institutions from public libraries to museums. One graduate is the librarian for a county public library in Minnesota. Others work in university libraries, including Southwest Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota Law Library. English majors also engage in museum work, such as the English graduate who works for the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum here in Decorah.

English graduates also find work in the fine arts. One is creative director for a renowned performing arts venue in the Twin Cities. Another is employed as a graphic artist for one of the major publication companies in the United States. And yet another works and performs with a concert production company in New York City.

Many of our graduates use their English major as a foundation for professional or graduate schools in law, medicine, urban studies, international affairs, and the ministry. One recent graduate attends Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque. Another is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Notre Dame in the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Others have earned masters’ degrees in Library and Information Services, and still others are working toward their doctor of jurisprudence (J.D.) at various law schools throughout the country.

From this impressive list of our graduates, one can see how well the English major at Luther College prepares students for a variety of careers “to serve with distinction for the common good.” Through classes, co-curricular activities, internships, study abroad, and interactions with their professors, English majors learn to discern their vocation as they develop into “whole persons equipped to understand and confront a changing society” (Luther College Mission Statement).

For statistics on what Luther English graduates have recently been doing after graduation, visit: Recent Grad Statistics.


Each year, the English faculty hosts, "A Life after Luther" event, where English grads return to share their experiences and advice with current majors and minors and reflect on how well their education in literature, rhetoric, and writing prepared them for the work world. At regular points, we survey our graduates to seek their response to their Luther education. And we love to see our graduates—old friends—face to face at the annual Homecoming coffee for them (and sometimes grads from other majors drop in to see favorite former English teachers).

To further keep in touch, each year the department sends out an updated letter to all English grads, with each faculty member summarizing his or her past year of teaching, research, writing, and living. Alums tell us they can't wait to get the letter, and we often get precious updates on their life stories. Our letters also remind them how to donate to English Department special funds, which help us and our students go to conferences to present papers and creative work (see Giving). We'd love to welcome you, as a donor, to our strong and creative program.