What is a Literature Major and is it Right for Me?

Do you have a book on hand at all times? If you love reading literature classics and discussing them with others and you consider yourself a strong communicator, majoring in literature may be for you.

What is a literature major?

A literature major involves reading and analyzing works of literature. This means discussing texts and understanding their historical, cultural and literary significance. As a literature major, you’ll be responsible for understanding and explaining the impact of texts including poems, short stories and novels.

Is it right for me?

One of the biggest questions you probably have is how a literature major differs from the more widely-known English major. While it depends on the program you’re in, English majors typically take many more classes on a variety of different genres and mediums of writing, whereas literature majors (often called “comparative literature” majors) focus on literature from either a specific place or theme.

Regardless, both English and literature majors are extremely reading- and writing-intensive, and you’ll also have to discuss your ideas in all sorts of settings, from lecture halls to seminars.

  • Here are some key questions to ask yourself before you become a literature major:
  • Do I possess strong writing and reading skills? Am I able to push myself to read and write about books and other works that may not be of interest to me?
  • Am I comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings on various literature with professors and peers in both large and intimate settings?
  • Do I take constructive criticism and feedback well? Am I okay with both professors and peers critiquing my work and potentially disagreeing with my opinions or ideas?
  • Am I interested in most likely going abroad and studying in some of the places I’m reading about?
  • Am I ready and willing to take on a major capstone or thesis project towards the end of my college career?

What can I do with a literature degree?

Much like English majors, literature majors get a bad rap for studying something not transferrable to the real world, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Literature majors graduate with strong reading, writing, critical thinking and communication skills, all of which serve them well in a variety of fields.

There are a large number of career options for people with literature degrees, which include positions such as journalist, author, writer, marketer, public relations specialist, professor, copywriter, editor, technical writer, publisher and lawyer.

What do people who major in literature earn?

Salaries vary based on the career you pursue, but if you’re interested in going into some form of communications like journalism, marketing or public relations, starting salaries are usually in the $35,000-$45,000 range.


Next, learn more about this college major such as Business and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be a Team Player.

Types of Internships for Literature Majors

Majoring in literature is a great opportunity to broaden your perspectives about literature, culture and academia. But if you’re a literature major, you may be wondering how you can apply that knowledge in the real world, especially when it comes to finding a job that’s right for you. This is where an internship can help. Giving you hands-on experience of a particular type of role, internships help you fine-tune your marketable skills and prepare you for applying those skills and knowledge in the real world.

Some of the most common internships for literature majors are:

Publishing intern

Whether you’re working for an independent publisher or a big publishing house, a publishing internship helps you get a sense of everything involved in putting out a book or putting together a peer-reviewed journal. From researching author biographies to fact-checking information, writing press releases, arranging book signings and assisting with the operations of your particular department, you’ll get great exposure to what the publishing field is all about.

Literary agency intern

As a literary agency intern, you’ll assist the staff of a literary agency as they negotiate contracts and prepare manuscripts for publication. You’ll also assist with updating the website and social media accounts, reading and evaluating manuscripts and handling email correspondence with authors. Depending on the type of literary agency you work for, you may also be asked to prepare contracts and participate in meetings and workshops. This type of internship is great exposure to another side of the publishing industry.

Literary magazine intern

Interning for a literary magazine is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about poetry and short fiction while still gaining some insights into the world of publishing. As an intern, you’ll assist the editorial staff with tracking submissions, evaluating manuscripts and transcribing interviews. You may also coordinate schedules, manage social media accounts, write press releases and sit in on editorial meetings. It’s fast-paced environment but also one that lets you wear many hats.

Journalism intern

If you’re a literature major looking to branch out into journalism, an internship with a digital media company, radio or television network is the way to go. Along with researching and fact-checking articles, your responsibilities may include attending media events and updating social media accounts. Depending on the type of publication you work for, you might even get an opportunity to conduct interviews or write articles. A journalism internship will give you the hands-on experience you need to get your foot in the door for a career in journalism.

Public relations intern

If you have a strong interest in media and public relations, a public relations internship could be another great option. Based either at a PR agency or on an in-house team, this type of internship will give you a firsthand feel for what it takes to create and maintain a public presence for a brand. You’ll also learn how to write press releases, communicate with clients and pitch article ideas to media outlets.

Nonprofit intern

For literature majors who are considering going into the nonprofit sector, an internship at a nonprofit could be a good fit. From assisting with grant writing to managing social media accounts, you’ll get to put your communication skills to use while also learning more about how nonprofits operate.

From knowing how to research a news story to coordinating the different processes involved in publishing a literary magazine, an internship is a wonderful way for literature majors to explore their options, learn new skills and reinvent themselves.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for a Literature Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job.

What Types of Skills Are Best for a Literature Major?

Before you decide to officially become a literature major, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into in terms of the skills you’ll need to succeed in the major. Here are the top 5 qualities you need to make sure you possess to ensure that you rock the literature major.

Reading skills

It goes without saying that you’ll be reading a lot as a literature major. However, being a “good” reader goes far beyond just getting through the pages and books you’re assigned in a timely manner.

The best readers are also star annotators and note-takers, and they know how best to categorize and remember the information they read for later.

Writing skills

Literature majors will spend lots of time crafting their thoughts on various works into essays and papers, so the most successful majors are those who have strong writing skills and also aren’t intimidated by writing prompts.

Critical thinking skills

Being a literature major means being able to think deeply about everything you read and dissect. You’ll need to be able to look at a work from all angles and consider what is the most important. Then, you’ll need to articulate those thoughts well.

Communication skills

Literature majors need to not only read and write well, but they need to be able to explain their thought processes and ideas effortlessly to professors and peers in the classroom. Additionally, the best literature majors aren’t intimidated by speaking in classes ranging from small seminars of under 15 students to lecture halls of over 100 people.

Time management skills

Because you’ll spend so much time reading, writing, and expressing your thoughts and ideas in class, the best literature majors have superior time management skills to keep track of it all. This means knowing when and where you work best on campus and being willing to spend some extra time in the library to make sure you understand the material (even on weekends).


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Type of Entry-Level Jobs for Literature Majors

From writing a thoughtful essay to researching a particular type of literary theory, majoring in literature gives you the chance to develop your research and communication skills, while also learning how to think critically. But if you’re an English major, you may be wondering about the best way to apply your skills in the real world. Should you become a teacher or go into the world of publishing?

Here are some of the most common entry-level jobs for literature majors:

English teacher

Teaching is one of the most popular entry-level jobs for humanities majors and being an English teacher is an especially great fit for those who are majoring in literature. As an English teacher, you’ll help your students gain an appreciation for literature of all kinds while also teaching them how to interpret texts and improve their writing skills.

Publishing assistant

An entry-level job as a publishing assistant is a great way to get your foot in the door of the publishing industry. In this role, you’ll assist in the book production process and will take on tasks such as emailing authors and book distributors, managing social and media accounts and keeping track of budgets.

Editorial assistant

The most common type of editorial job for recent grads is an editorial assistant position. Based either at a specific publication, a publishing house or a literary agency, this position will give you great exposure to the many aspects of the publishing industry. From reading article pitches and manuscripts to communicating with writers and editing their work, you’ll gain a lot of experience very quickly while also learning what kind of content works best with your chosen audience.


A copywriter crafts engaging copy for websites, social media platforms and marketing materials. As an entry-level copywriter, you’ll put your writing skills to use by creating various types of content designed to resonate with an audience. Depending on whether you work for a marketing agency or as part of an in-house marketing team, you’ll be asked to create a specific voice for each of the brands you work with, and to maintain that voice in all of the writing you do.

Social media manager

As a social media manager, you increase the visibility of a brand, campaign or event on social media by creating engaging posts, answering customer questions and measuring the results of each campaign. You’ll also use analytics tools to determine what approaches work best and optimize your campaigns accordingly.

Copy editor

As a copy editor, you’ll be tasked with ensuring that the articles you’re editing are free of spelling and grammar mistakes and that they adhere to a specific writing style (such as AP style if you’re editing journalistic articles). Whether you work for a publishing house, a digital media company or marketing firm, you’ll play a crucial role in the day-to-day operation of the editorial department.

Whether you’re interested in journalism, publishing or teaching, a literature major gives you an abundance of skills to land a job that’s right for you.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What is a Literature Major and is it Right for Me? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as the Top 10 Skills Employers Want in an Intern.

How to Tell An Employer About Competing Job Offers

Having competing job offers is generally considered a great problem to have. It means that multiple companies are interested in working with you and that you’ve proven yourself to be a competitive candidate. However, there are a few things you should consider as you navigate this process, from how to keep both companies in play while exploring your options to whether to tell each company about other offers you’ve received.

It may seem tricky, but we’ve broken down the steps to make sure that you’re able to juggle everything without dropping the ball, and that you end up with the internship or entry-level job you want.

Step 1: Make sure your offers are in writing.

A verbal offer is not an official offer. Before you attempt to negotiate with various companies, you need to make sure their offers are in writing — outlining not only base salary but other important benefits like health insurance, vacation days and flexibility.

If you’ve only received a verbal offer, contact the hiring manager, recruiter or HR representative that you’ve been interacting with to firm up the offer. Consider saying, “This all looks great. I’m looking forward to reviewing all of the offer details. When can I expect to receive a written offer?”

Step 2: Don’t accept an offer if you may back out. Instead, extend the timeline.

Let’s say Company A just gave you an offer, but your top choice – Company B – has yet to finalize their offer in writing. Company A is pressuring you to get back to them with your final decision. What do you do?

Ideally, you want more time. Unless you think asking for more time would be so damaging that it could put your offer at risk, it’s worth saying, “I’m very excited about this offer and the chance to join Company A. I know that you asked for my response by Tuesday, but  there’s a lot to consider here. Could I have until Thursday to communicate my final decision?”

It’s possible that Company A may decline your extension request, in which case you have to make a choice to either 1) accept Company A’s offer without knowing the outcome of Company B’s offer or 2) decline Company A while banking on Company B’s offer. While it might be enticing to accept Company A’s offer while also keeping the door open for Company B, accepting and then rescinding an offer could easily burn bridges. It’s best to avoid that scenario if possible.

Pro Tip: A final option, and one we recommend, is to reach out to Company B and tell them about your situation. Let them know that they’re your first choice but that you’re under a deadline to make a decision. If they’re planning to make an offer, this will

Step 3: Carefully time when you’ll inform each company about the other offers.

If you’re going to inform Company B about Company A’s offer, it’s best to do so in the final interview or final follow-up, once you’ve had a chance to gauge where you stand relative to competing candidates. That said, you don’t want companies thinking you’ve pitted them against one another in a salary war. You could run the risk of having your original offer pulled if you mishandle this conversation.

Only if you’re feeling confident in the offers and your ability to manage the conversation carefully, should you go ahead and share this information. The goal here is to get all of the offers on the table at the same time for you to consider them and maximize your chance to make the best decision.

Say something like:“I’m very excited about the opportunity to work for Company B, especially the ability to have an impact. Company B is by far my top choice, but I have just received another offer this week at a company that would allow me to build out a different skillset. They asked for my response in a few days, and I was wondering when I could anticipate to find out Company B’s final decision. Thank you again for a great interview process, and I very much look forward to hearing your response.”

Step 4: Show appreciation.

Wrapping up your communication with a company should be done with grace and tact. Showing sincere appreciation for the hiring managers involved respects the time and energy they invested in your hiring process. When you’re ready to turn down one of the job offers, find out the right way to turn down a job offer.

With this tricky part of the journey managed, you’ll be ready to dive into your new job.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What to Do When You Want a Second Job Offer and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About Yourself.