English & Language

Our English and language department dedicates time to the development of a range of skills in critical thinking, reading and writing. On a typical day, faculty and students in the English/language department may be writing poems, watching a new production of Hamlet on video, discussing a slave narrative or thinking about how literary theory helps us understand the King Arthur story.

Whether your goals are academic or career oriented, we offer dynamic teaching, scholarly excellence and opportunities for creative and professional development.

Our faculty are experienced, professional writers and scholars who will help you in your academic program and advise you along your path toward a career in English and language.


Majors Minors

* These majors can be completed in 3 years.


English major/minor

As an English major or minor at Bluffton, you will explore the traditions of English, American and world literature, develop writing skills and explore critical theories.

The 16 hours of electives for the major, and nine hours of electives for the minor, allow your studies to be tailored to fit your particular goals and interests. Integrated Language Arts teaching licensure is available.

Oftentimes elective course topics are linked with professor's primary research - such as Catholic, Scottish or Gothic literature, poetry or fiction writing - which means that your professors are really passionate about the topics they are teaching.


Bridge editorial staffOur students

The fall 2017 edition of Bridge: Bluffton University's literary journal, hosting stories, prose and poems from 16 of “the best young writers ages 14-24,” expands into the realm of digital publication. With 195 submissions from Albuquerque to South Africa, the magazine’s presence continues to develop among the global community of young writers.  

“I believe going digital will help readers look at the work from a different perspective.” 
>>> going digital 
>>> more about Bridge


Explore courses required for

Guidelines to complete a major in English in four years, or in three years (beginning even years)


Writing major/minor

The writing major and minor provide a flexible way to pursue a career in writing. You can choose to focus your coursework in creative writing or in professional and technical writing. The minor allows you to explore an interest in writing while majoring in another academic discipline.

Introductory and advanced writing courses are taught by published writers who practice what they teach.

  • Jeff Gundy, who teaches poetry and nonfiction, has published multiple books of poems and prose. He was named the 2014 Ohio Poet of the Year for his collection Somewhere Near Defiance published by Anginga Press.
  • Jamie Lyn Smith completed two book-length collections in 2015 and is currently working on her first novel, Appalachia and another short story collection. Her work has appeared in The PinchThe Kenyon Review, American Literary Review, The Boiler, Barely South and The Low Valley Review. She is the editor of Bridge: The Bluffton University Literary Journal.

In addition, you may learn from visiting writers. Guest authors who have presented on campus include Scott Russell Sanders, Li-Young Lee, Karen Joy Fowler, Mary Grimm, John Drury, William Stafford, Gwendolyn Brooks, Andrew Hudgins, Charles Baxter, Nikki Giovanni, Erin McGraw, David Baker, Clayton Eshleman, Stephen Corey, Janet Kauffman, Jean Janzen, Julia Kasdorf, Keith Ratzlaff, and many more.  

Tobias Buckell

Our alumni

2000 graduate Tobias Buckell's science fiction thriller, "Artic Rising," was reviewed on the NPR broadcast. >>> listen

His novel, "Halo: The Cole Protocol," made The New York Times best sellers' list. Tobias was named the 2009 Outstanding Young Alumnus. >>> Tobias' story




Guidelines to complete a major in writing in four years, or in three years (beginning even years)


Spanish major/minor

The Spanish major and minor are designed to develop basic skills in speaking, understanding, reading and writing Spanish. Classes are conducted primarily in Spanish, beginning with the first course. Your language level will be assessed through a placement test with placement recommended accordingly.

An integral part of the Spanish major is a semester-long study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. You've heard it before, but it's really true: studying abroad expands your personal horizons and stretches your abilities. In today's global marketplace, study abroad makes you more attractive to employers who are looking for professionals with an international outlook and proven ability to adapt to other cultures. You will also be introduced to the idea of Heritage Language Learners you may have in your classrooms and will be taught the value of teaching language with a communicative purpose in mind.

 Malika Thompason

Our students

Spanish majors are required to travel to a Spanish-speaking country for their cross-cultural experience, an immersive program that looks to educate students about cultural diversity while expanding their worldviews. 

"I’ve just been learning so much about life,” said Malika. “I’m learning about the things I do and don’t want to do, and I’ve been learning through my mistakes.”  >>> Malika's story


TESOL major or minor (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) is also available.

Explore courses required for a

Guidelines to complete a major in Spanish in four years, or in three years (beginning even years)


Art and writing major

The art and writing major is an interdisciplinary major combining strengths from the art department and the English department for students interested in both visual and written arts. Students will develop and fine tune skills related to this blended major. A senior-level seminar invites students to consider how visual art and creative writing can together feed artistic creativity.

Brista Drake


Our students

"I’m going to be doing an independent study, so I’m going to be working on [a fantasy children's] book while working on a black and white storyboard for the first draft of an animated movie."  >>> Brista's story


 Becky Boban

“I’m really glad I took a summer to focus on what I think is important, determine what my passions are and advance in my craft.” 
>>>Becky's story


What will students do with an art and writing major?

Graphic design is an obvious emphasis for the writer/artist. The major would also prepare one for study through a masters of fine arts program, work for publishing companies or entrepreneurship.

Explore the courses required for a

Guidelines to complete an art and writing major in four years.


Teaching licensure

Adolescent/Young Adult (AYA)
integrated language arts education licensure

Students who wish to teach integrated language arts for the adolescent/young adult (grades 7-12) must complete requirements for an English major and education courses.

Middle childhood education
with a language arts concentration

Students who wish to teach English, language arts and reading in the middle school, grades 4-9, must complete a middle childhood education major with language arts as one of the two required areas of concentration. The middle childhood license requires concentrations in two areas; language arts, social studies, mathematics or natural sciences.

Alternate Pathway to Teaching in Ohio


Explore courses required for licensure in:

You may complete your studies in four years following these guidelines:


TESOL major/minor

Student interacts with young children

Bluffton offers opportunities for a TESOL major or minor. Our TESOL licensure endorsement offers a unique learning experience for Bluffton students. 

Students who obtain the TESOL major or minor might be interested in teaching English more informally (such as in tutoring situations) or teaching English in other countries. Students do not need to have expertise in any other (non-English) language in order to teach English as a second language.

The TESOL minor is open to students from any major, however students majoring or minoring in Spanish have found the TESOL minor complements their Spanish studies.

Students at Ohio TESOL conference 2017Our students

RaeLee Hightower '18, an English and Writing major, chose a minor in TESOL because she wanted a degree to let her interact with people of different cultures and languages. 

"I really wanted an excuse to travel and experience new places as part of my future career. I love learning about languages, countries, and people, so adding a TESOL minor felt like a logical choice."  RaeLee began teaching English in Japan through the JET program (Japanese English Teachers) in August of 2018. 


Explore requirements for a

Guidelines to complete a TESOL major in four years.


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