Rice University

Department of English

FAQs for English Majors

Q:  Does AP credit count toward the major?
A:  No, AP credit does not count toward the major.

Q:  Do FWIS courses count toward the major?
A:  Yes, some FWIS courses can count toward the major, but not all. Pre-approval of the FWIS course in question must be granted in writing by the English UG chair/pre-approved prior to any registration period. FWIS courses do NOT count toward English major core/distribution requirements. If approved by UG chair, the FWIS course will count as an ENGL elective course.
Q:  What are departmental field/distribution courses?
A:  “Departmental field/distribution courses” refer to the groupings of field courses required for the major (pre-1800; pre-1900; and noncanonical).  These courses should be taken at the 300 or 400 level with the exception of noncanonical courses, which can be taken at the 200, 300, or 400 level. Creative writing courses and FWIS courses do NOT count toward field distribution. Consult website for approved core requirements by semester. 
Q:  What counts toward the
pre-1800 requirement?
A:  Courses with majority emphasis in the period before 1800 taken in the English department.

Q:  What counts toward the noncanonical requirement?
A:  Courses featuring Angloplone or U.S literatures with significant focus on ethnic and minority literatures; non-western and postcolonial literatures; gender and sexuality studies.     

 Q:  What are departmental major core courses? 
A:  "Departmental major core courses" refer to the required sequence of ENGL 200; ENGL 300; and a ENGL 400-level capstone course. (Students who matriculated prior to Fall 2009 are not required to take a 400-level capstone course.)

Q:  Can an approved English capstone course also qualify for another department requirement (ie: pre-1800 or non-canonical)? 

A:  No. Our capstone courses will no longer simultaneously serve to fulfill another English requirement, such as pre-1800, or non-canonical. 

Q:  What is overall course load?
A:  “Overall course load” refers to the total credit hours required of majors.  

Q:  Do foreign language literature courses count for the English major?
A:  Students may petition the DUS for up to 2 foreign language literature courses to count toward total hours for the major. They do not meet nor satisfy department major core requirements (ENGL 200; ENGL 300; 400-level capstone).

Q: What is Distinction in Research and Creative Works?  

A: Students writing theses (both critical and creative) effective AY 2012-13 are eligible to apply for University Distinction in Research and Creative Works, which if awarded, will be noted on the student's transcript upon graduation. Applications available in English department. Deadline to apply is typically the last day of classes.

Other Notes:  

Non-literature classes (music, art) will not be considered for the major.  

Courses repeatable for credit. Some special topics as well as some advanced writing courses may be repeatable for credit, but not always.  Consult the General Announcements (pdf) as to which these are. 

Students may petition the DUS for permission to substitute two courses from outside the department. In no case may the total number of courses to be substituted exceed two. Humanities 101 and 102 may be counted toward the English major.

It is recommended that all English majors take some formal instruction in English or American history. If the student anticipates doing graduate work, he/she should consider courses in historical periods of literature in criticism and literary theory, as well as advanced courses in Latin, French, German, Spanish, etc.

Pass/Fail Guidelines for Undergraduates 

  • May not take more than one course as pass/fail per semester for each full year of residence (students studying in off-campus programs through Rice are considered to be in residence for the purpose of this rule). 
  • May not take more than four courses total as pass/fail (even if they are in a five-year degree program). 
  • May not take more than a total of 14 semester hours as pass/fail. 
  • May register for only one course as pass/fail in a semester. 
  • May not take as pass/fail a repeatable course previously taken and designated as pass/fail. 
  • May not take as pass/fail those courses used to meet the requirements for their major. If students take such courses pass/fail, the Office of the Registrar will replace the P with the letter grade earned during the final degree audit. This same rule and process applies to minors.
  • Must designate courses to the Pass/Fail grade mode online, via ESTHER, no later than the posted deadline, usually the end of Week 10 of the semester. 
  • May not take First-Year Writing-Intensive Seminar (FWIS) courses as Pass/Fail. 

The student has the primary responsibility to understand and satisfy all the requirements for the major, as well as the university degree requirements.

Transfer credits are governed by the principle of equivalency as stipulated in the General Announcements (pdf). Students should always consult with an advisor about study abroad or summer course plans and seek pre-approval for courses taken elsewhere. Some basic guidelines are the following:  

  1. Foreign language literature courses in translation do not automatically transfer as the English department has minimal offerings in this area.
  2. The department does not grant transfer credit from community colleges; online universities; for-profit universities; or 2 year colleges. 
  3. Transfer course credit earned elsewhere cannot be substituted or accepted for ENGL 200; ENGL 300; or any ENGL capstone course. 

Transfer credit requests should be directed to the Director of Undergraduate Study,
English Department
Betty Joseph (beejay@rice.edu) 
Please expect delays in correspondence if you seek pre-approval for transfer credits during summer recess. An advisor or DUS (Director of Undergraduate Study in the English Department) only tentatively pre-approves courses when the university is not in session.