FAQs

How do I become an English major?

To declare as an English major you must have at least a 2.0 Grade Point Average in your overall academic record, in your overall English major record (preparation and upper division), and in your upper division major record.  Students who have not established a UC GPA may petition to declare after one quarter of study at UCSB.

Pick up a petition to change or declare a major from the Staff Undergraduate Advisor in the English office, or from the College of Letters and Science, 1117 Cheadle Hall (hereafter L&S). Fill out the petition and bring it to the Staff Undergraduate Advisor who will help you with program planning and, if you have transferred from another institution, with petitioning to have any eligible classes applied towards the requirements for the English major. If you are a newly admitted student, please also bring an unofficial transcript from any prior colleges if you have completed course work which may not yet be reflected on your UCSB record.

Are my major requirements all that I need to worry about to graduate?

No. You also need to be aware of the General Education, Academic Residency, overall UC GPA, and unit requirements. Study the General Catalog and the bulletins available from L&S about these requirements. Students who need telephone assistance with any academic matter may call the Academic Advising Hotline at 893-2038. Students who wish to meet with a general college adviser may call 893-3201 for an appointment. You may also run a degree audit and/or a progress check through the online GOLD system.

Some of your English classes may also satisfy General Education or American History and Institutions requirements, but you must check with L&S to find out how the two sets of requirements will interact.

What are the class formats of English Department courses?

The English Department offers classes in a variety of formats, for example: large lectures with small discussion sections, small lecture classes limited to 38 students, Upper-division Seminars limited to an enrollment of 15, and other formats of various sizes depending on the class, quarter, and instructor.

Enrollment in most classes is limited to 38 students, and priority is usually given to English majors. Some courses, including required ones, will be given in large lectures, with required discussion sections taught by teaching assistants. Almost all of the English Department courses are also open to students fulfilling General Education requirements. Because this same course may be offered only once more per academic year in a smaller class limited to 38 students, you should try to take required courses (101, 102, 103, 104) in large lecture sections when possible, since it may be difficult to find a spot in the smaller version of the required course.

The maximum number for enrollment in each class is a limit set by the department for instructional reasons. The maximum number for large lectures is set by also taking into consideration the room capacity (established by the Fire Marshall) and the number of teaching assistants available. An instructor is not allowed to enroll more students than the set maximum number.

How do I enroll in an English Department course?

During registration on GOLD, some classes will be open to English and related majors during the first pass, opening up to all majors during passes two and three.  Other classes, such as large lectures, will be open to all majors from the first pass onward.  The Upper-division Seminar is an exception and is open only to English majors during all pass times.

Many courses may have online wait-lists established at waitlist.ucsb.edu.  Check the website for details.  Courses without wait-lists may be open, or the instructor may be keeping a wait-list offline.

If you are not able to enroll in a course before the start of the quarter, for example, if the course is full or closed, you may also try to enroll by attending the first meeting of the class and speaking with the instructor. This is often referred to as “crashing” a course. See the Department’s Crash Policy for details.

Once you are enrolled in a class, do not assume that attendance at only the first roll call will be sufficient to hold your place. You may be dropped from the course for missing two consecutive meetings. Ask your instructor for individual policies on attendance.

If you have enrolled in a large lecture class with discussion sections, you must attend the first two sections, even when the first section falls before the first scheduled lecture. Failure to attend your section may result in your being dropped from the class.

What are add codes?

Add codes are four digit alphanumeric sequences which are used by instructors to allow students to enroll in a course after the quarter has begun. If your enrollment is approved by the instructor you will be given a course approval code to be used through the GOLD system. These course approval codes are available only from the instructor.  Generally, if there is a wait-list for the class, students from the wait-list will have priority for add-codes.

If the instructor gives you a course approval code during the quarter, add the course to your schedule immediately. The faculty will know all the more quickly how many students they may add (and so will students on waiting lists).

If I want to drop a class, can I simply stop showing up?

If you do not intend to take a course you received in registration, drop the course immediately at the Registrar's Office or through GOLD. Do not keep those who want the class from enrolling.

Once you have been enrolled in a class, you are accountable for completing the course work; it is your responsibility, not the faculty's, to see that your official records are accurate. If you do not drop a class before the drop deadline for the quarter, it will be impossible for you to be dropped from the class without a formal petition to the College of Letters and Science. Petition forms are available from their website and from their office at Cheadle Hall 1117.

What are the grading options, and how do they affect my major?

Some courses will allow you to choose between the Letter Grade and Passed/Not Passed grading options. All courses required for the English major must be taken for a letter grade.

There is one exception: the P/NP grading option is allowed through the next to the last quarter of foreign language study. The last quarter of the foreign language must be taken for a letter grade (quarter 5 with option 1, and quarter 3 with option 2).

You will be able to change your grading option up to a certain point each quarter for classes with optional grading.  Make sure that you do not leave a required major course P/NP if you intend to use it for the major!

For more information on the Passed/Not Passed grading option, see the College of Letters and Science website.

What GPA do I need to graduate as an English major?

At the time of graduation, you must have a 2.0 GPA in the University of California in each of the following categories: a) All courses attempted; b) All courses required or acceptable for your major (Prep. for major + UD major); and c) All upper division courses required or acceptable for your upper division major.

Some important notes:

  • Although Foreign Literature in Translation (Option Two Part B of the foreign language requirement) courses are upper division, they are considered part of the Preparation for the Major area; therefore, they will not apply towards the upper division only GPA in the major.
  • UC Extension courses are usually excluded from these computations, except in certain circumstances. Contact the College of Letters Science for clarifications regarding extensions courses.

Can I sit in on an English Department course without being enrolled?

Participating in a class without being formally enrolled is usually referred to as “auditing”. For unusual reasons, it may be desirable to audit a class rather than to officially enroll. This arrangement can be made only with permission of the instructor before the quarter begins. Because enrollment space is limited, permission to audit will be given only in special circumstances.

Are there courses I could apply towards another major as well as the English major? (For double majors)

If you have declared a double major, you may be allowed to apply simultaneously to both majors a total of eight units of upper division elective credit. You must petition as necessary for the course to count outside its home Department. See the Staff Undergraduate Advisor for guidance in determining which classes might be used for this allowance.  In general, such petitions are wise to pursue if you have taken a course that you feel could conceivably apply to either of your double majors.

Can I enroll in a graduate level course as an undergraduate?

In special cases it may be possible to enroll in an English Department graduate course. You must have the following in order to enroll: an overall "B" Grade Point Average, the instructor’s approval, and the appropriate background knowledge for the course.

If you are encouraged to enroll, consult with the instructor. If the instructor will permit you to take the class, you will need the Petition for an Undergraduate to Enroll in a Graduate Course, which is available only from the Registrar's Office. It is your responsibility to obtain the required signatures before the quarter begins (Instructor, Chair of English Department). Once you have all the required signatures, return the petition to the Registrar's Office.

Graduate courses taken in the English Department will count towards the elective requirement for your major.

What is an “incomplete” grade, and when should I ask for one?

Students are expected to finish the course work according to the deadlines set by the instructor. If for any reason you believe that you will not be able to finish the course requirements on time, consult with the instructor as quickly as possible (before the last week of class!). With the instructor's permission (which will be granted only in unusual circumstances) you may file for an incomplete grade for the course. Your grade for the course will be recorded as "I", to be revised by the instructor with the final grade once the remaining work is completed.

This option should be used only in the event of illness or serious problems which prevent you from completing some portion of the coursework before the last day of the quarter. See the Registrar’s website for more rules and regulations regarding incomplete petitions.

If you must take an incomplete, get an Undergraduate Petition for an Incomplete Grade from the Registrar's Office. Ask your instructor to sign it; you must return the form to the Registrar's Office by the last day of the quarter. With your instructor you will determine a new due date for the completion of any unfinished work; this deadline may not be later than the end of the following quarter.

If you have an incomplete grade and work has not been completed by the established deadline on your incomplete petition, the incomplete grade automatically becomes "F." An extension to the incomplete petitions standard deadline may be granted with the permission of your instructor and the department chair. See the staff undergraduate advisor for the appropriate form.

What are University Extension courses?

In unusual circumstances, you may need to take a course through University Extension, or "Open Enrollment." This is a different enrollment procedure, but you will be attending class and doing the work just as you would in regular enrollment. The University Extension office has brochures describing these procedures.

One of the advantages to UC Extension/Open Enrollment is that the cost of enrolling in courses is paid per unit, rather than per quarter. This makes it an attractive option for students who only need one or two specific courses to finish their degree, but due to financial concerns cannot remain enrolled as a regular student.

You should see the Staff Undergraduate Advisor to file a petition before taking a class through Extension. If the class is approved through the petition, credit will be given towards satisfying the major requirements. The class must be taken for a letter grade. Courses taken through Extension will not count towards the residence requirement of 20 upper division units in the major, and in most cases they will not count towards your UC GPA. Contact the College of Letters and Science for clarifications regarding residency and GPA applicability of Extension courses.

How do I find out if a course taken at another school might be counted towards the major?

If you have transferred to UCSB from another institution, you may be able to apply some of the classes already taken to the major requirements.  Usually you must petition for credit, unless UCSB has an articulation agreement with your former institution that explicitely approves the courses you wish to apply for the major.  Additionally, if you decide to take classes for the major through a program outside of the English Department after having been admitted to the department, it is your responsibility to be sure that the other program will successfully interact with the English major.  See a department adviser before you enroll in any other programs.

As soon as you become an English major, or when you are seriously considering declaring, you should see a department adviser bringing unofficial transcripts and the full syllabus for each course you wish to have considered as applying towards your English major requirements.

After reviewing the related course materials with the Undergraduate Staff Adviser, you will then fill out a Petition for Degree Requirements for any classes that could be counted towards the major.  This petition will be evaluated by department faculty and forwarded to the College once a decision is reached.  This process can take up to a month in some cases, so please be patient.  The College will send an E-mail to students once petitions have been finalized.

What should I do if I want to study abroad as an English major?

Studying abroad can be a valuable academic experience, while often still allowing you to make progress towards your degree from UCSB. Programs most frequently used are Education Abroad Program (EAP) and American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). Other programs for foreign study may also be acceptable. EAP is an overseas study program in cooperation with more than 80 host universities and colleges in countries throughout the world. Participating students remain registered at UCSB while studying abroad. Full-year as well as short-term and special focus programs are available through EAP.

Inquire carefully into any program before enrolling. Make sure you understand the admission requirements and the arrangements for study. You may wish to ask for the names and phone numbers of several students who have recently completed foreign study who would discuss the program with you.

The most important part of foreign study is your intellectual growth. Choose a host country where you will find a course of studies in the major with an established faculty and library. In many non-English speaking countries it will be difficult to study your English major subject and thus progress towards the completing your degree. We do not accept British and American literature read in Spanish, French, Italian, etc., for the major -- however, we can accept up to 8.0 units of foreign literature in English translation, or in the original language, toward the upper division elective requirement by petition. Most English majors reasonably apply for study in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

If you plan to study abroad, consult first with the foreign study office of the programs you are considering; ask for forms, instruction on application procedures, and the date applications are due. (NOTE: EAP applications for UK/I are due early: usually the first week of November for UCSB students.)

Well in advance of the application date see the Staff Undergraduate Advisor or the Faculty EAP advisor for guidance on how to plan an integrated program of study at your host institution. Bring course descriptions from the host school; look for courses that will be consistent with the academic standards and requirements in the English major. The principal criterion is that courses are acceptable as substitutes for the Department's required courses only if they cover essentially the same readings. With electives, there is more flexibility in subject matter. The Upper Division Seminar is to be taken within the English Department.

When you return, make sure you bring copies of the course description, syllabus, and assignment sheets for each course you studied.  Keeping copies of your papers can also be very helpful in getting your work approved for the major, if possible.  See a department advisor to petition for eligible classes to be applied to the major. EAP students must use the official EAP petition form.

How do I make sure that I graduate on time?

It is your responsibility to review your academic record regularly to determine that you are making satisfactory progress toward graduation.

You need never be in doubt about the requirements still to be met in your program. The Undergraduate Staff Adviser will evaluate your progress toward completion of your major requirements during any point in your academic stay. The College of Letters and Science advisers can assist you in evaluating requirements for non-major areas, such as general education or general units. It is especially recommended that you check in with both advisers early in your senior year.

English major degree audits are available on GOLD for non-double-majors.  Double-majors should still consult with a department advisor to confirm progress in major requirements.

To view an online Degree Audit or Progress Check:

  1. Log in to GOLD (https://my.sa.ucsb.edu/gold/login.aspx)
  2. Click “Academic History” on the left.
  3. For Degree Audits, click the “Degree Audit” tab, then “Run Audit.”
    • Ask a department adviser if you have questions about your major requirements.
  4. For Progress Checks, click the “Progress Check” tab, then click “Run Check.”
    • Ask a Letters & Science adviser if you have questions about your general requirements.

What is academic misconduct, and how can I avoid it?

A professional attitude towards your work in English of course includes avoidance of "academic dishonesty": plagiarism and cheating. These dishonest practices lower the educational standards for everyone, and carry severe penalties, including suspension or dismissal from the University.

Commitment to academic integrity is an important part of your dedication in the major. The UCSB Campus Regulations state University policy:

It is expected that students attending the University of California understand and subscribe to the ideal of academic integrity, and are willing to bear individual responsibility for their work. Any work (written or otherwise) submitted to fulfill an academic requirement must represent a student's original work. Any act of academic dishonesty such as cheating or plagiarism will subject a person to University disciplinary action.

Using or attempting to use materials, information, study aids, or commercial "research" services not authorized by the instructor of the course constitutes cheating. Representing the words, ideas, or concepts of another person without appropriate attribution is plagiarism. Whenever another person's written work is utilized, whether it is a single phrase or longer, quotation marks must be used and sources cited. Paraphrasing another's work, i.e., borrowing the ideas or concepts and putting them into one's "own" words, must also be acknowledged. Although a person's state of mind and intention will be considered in determining the university response to an act of academic dishonesty, this in no way lessens the responsibility of the student.

If you are unsure about how to give correct references and footnotes for material gathered from sources other than your own thought, ask your instructor or section leader for clarification before turning in the work in question.

How do I file a complaint and/or resolve a problem related to my experience as an English major?

If you have a particular comment, suggestion, or complaint related to some aspect of your experience in the English major, see the Undergraduate Staff Advisor or Student Services supervisor. If your problem is in a particular class, you may wish to start by talking with your instructor or your teaching assistant. After speaking with these members of the department, you can also discuss this problem further with the chair of the undergraduate committee.

The University of California has called for an active policy of education and complaint resolution to ensure an atmosphere free from all forms of harassment, exploitation, and intimidation on the basis of age, race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and physical handicap. Sexual harassment is an illegal form of discrimination and a violation of professional ethics. UCSB has defined sexual harassment as unwanted sexual attention in a situation of unequal power, and has adopted a specific policy and grievance procedure to provide for the hearing of complaints and the resolution of grievances. See the Office of Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment website for details on these policies.

Regardless of the issue being faced, the Office of the Ombuds is an excellent resource for students seeking confidential advising and conflict resolution. Students are encouraged to meet with an ombudsman if they are not comfortable bringing their concerns to their instructor or staff member, or if they are not satisfied with the resolution achieved in dealing with the department.

Who is in charge of the English Department's undergraduate program?

The chair of the English Department is responsible for overseeing both undergraduate and graduate education in English at UCSB.

The undergraduate chair is responsible for overseeing the undergraduate program and for steering the undergraduate committee.

The chair of the undergraduate committee meets on a regular basis with appointed faculty members to discuss and administer the undergraduate program. The chair and the committee review recommendations made by the undergraduate staff adviser, and supervise student honors projects. Decisions concerning curriculum and general policies are taken to the chair of the department and the faculty for final approval.

The undergraduate staff adviser answers questions of undergraduates regarding major requirements and registration, oversees the application process for independent studies and honors program, accepts petitions for substitution for major requirements, maintains student records, and performs progress checks in the major.  The staff advisor meets with new freshmen and transfer students to orient them to department services and their major requirements. The staff adviser consults with the faculty undergraduate chair and the undergraduate committee concerning all areas of the undergraduate program.