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Cottey offers a BA or minor in English.

Program Description

Read. Write. Think. Lead. Cottey’s English department believes that the careful study of language and literature is crucial to becoming socially-responsible, globally-aware leaders and broadly-educated, multi-faceted human beings.

Our program prepares students for a variety of careers and graduate school degrees. English students become expert readers, thinkers, and writers; they listen to, respect, and empathize with others; they analyze texts and contexts; they seek answers beyond the surface level, and they communicate those answers to a wide range of audiences. These skills are highly valued—and clearly needed—in the world today.

An emphasis on women writers and diversity (gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.) empowers students to think critically about their own identities and about the power of language to reflect and shape the world. Cottey’s English major allows students to become contributing members of a global society.

Moreover, our very small classes make it easy for students to engage in class discussions and develop their own voices. In short, our major fosters socially-responsible, globally-aware leaders.

Studying English at Cottey means students will engage in a wide variety of experiences, including the following:

  • travel to readings by well-known writers;
  • edit and publish in Cottey’s literary magazine or yearbook;
  • attend and present papers at national conferences;
  • participate in internships and service learning projects;
  • explore notable literary sites;
  • participate in such academic organizations as Sigma Tau Delta and Sigma Kappa Delta;
  • submit papers to Cottey’s academic writing contest;
  • engage in critical, meaningful discussions in and out of the classroom;
  • discover who you are, what you think, and what you are capable of achieving.


Signature Courses

  • ENG 211 Excursions

    An especially exciting component of our program, excursion courses are typically short-term interdisciplinary classes that culminate in travel to a literary destination. Some of our past offerings include Willa Cather’s Childhood Home and Memorial Prairie in Red Cloud, Nebraska; The World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri; Mark Twain’s home in Hannibal, Missouri; and Jane Austen’s home in Chawton, England.

  • ENG/WGS 233 Ethnic Women Writers

    A perennial favorite among Cottey students, Ethnic Women Writers allows students to explore literature by women from a wide range of backgrounds and contexts.

  • ENG 324/WGS 325 On Location

    An especially exciting option driven by student demand, this course is similar to Excursions (ENG211), but on a more comprehensive level. Students study select works of literature and then travel for a week or more to a relevant destination. In 2016, for example, the class studied works by four British women writers, then toured their homes and other relevant sites at various locations throughout England (although the College may provide some funding, the majority of travel expenses are the responsibility of the student).

  • ENG 383: Animals in Literature

    This exciting course combines literary studies with human-animal studies and ecofeminism to consider both the relationship between people and animals, and the representation of that relationship in literary texts. Students who love animals and literature will enjoy this course.

Career Outcomes

  • Career Outcomes

    • Teacher
    • Librarian
    • Writer
    • Lawyer
    • Non-profit manager
    • Activist
    • Public relations specialist
    • Social media manager
    • Brand strategist
    • Human resource manager

    For students interested in law school, visit our pre-law at Cottey page.


  • Program Description

    The English minor allows students to explore the world of literature and develop their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills while pursuing another major.

    English minors may take any of our courses (except for the senior capstone) and are eligible to participate in Excursions, join our honor societies, and travel to conferences.

Sauls Writing Contest

  • About the Contest

    See this year’s flyer.

    The Merry Ann DeVaney Sauls Academic Writing Contest was developed by the Writing Across the Curriculum Interest Group to enhance the prestige of academic writing in the disciplines at Cottey. The contest is named after an alumna of Cottey College who funded the endowment that supports it and who believed very strongly in the value of writing and communicating well.

    All Cottey students are invited to submit writing to the contest. Writing done for courses during a student’s time at Cottey are eligible for entry. Off-campus judges, instructors or professionals in the relevant contest categories, choose the best from the finalists. The authors are honored at a public ceremony at the end of each academic year, and the top essays in each category are published annually in the publication Write On, Sister, edited by members of the English Department.

    For many Cottey students, entering the Merry Ann DeVaney Sauls Academic Writing Contest is a way to seek public recognition for the hard work they do throughout the year. Typically between 60 and 85 entries are submitted to compete for 10 top honors.

    The Writing Across the Curriculum Interest Group seeks ways to promote writing in and across the disciplines and to honor the good writing students do at Cottey. It comprises faculty and staff interested in student writing and writing instruction at Cottey. In pursuit of these interests, the group conducted a pilot writing portfolio project and developed the Cottey College Academic Writing Contest. It also supports the Writing Center located in the lower level of the Ross Library.

    Questions? Concerns? Contact Dr. Sarah Polo or Dr. Jon Green, Writing faculty.

  • Entering the Contest

    The Writing Across the Curriculum Interest Group is now accepting entries for the 2023 Merry Ann DeVaney Sauls Writing Contest. Deadline for entries is Friday, March 24 by 11:59 p.m.

    An awards ceremony recognizing the winners will be held on Friday, May 12.

    Here’s how you can enter.

    1. Read the Entry Rules for entering this contest.
    2. Locate your best piece(s) of writing. You can enter up to five different pieces (one in each of the categories), which greatly increases your chance of winning some money.
    3. Fill out the MADS Entry Form (a Google form). Note: This contest entry form requires a sign-in with a Google account. If you do not have a Google account and do not wish to create one, please email Dr. Sarah Polo or Dr. Jon Green.
  • Categories for Submissions


    Includes​ ​any​ ​project​ ​produced​ ​for​ ​First-Year Writing Seminar (FWS 101) ​or​ ​Writing​ ​102.

    Academic Writing

    Includes any project produced for college-level courses in any discipline. Examples include research essays, literary critiques, scientific reports, rhetorical analyses, capstone presentations, and research-based social media projects.

    Professional Writing

    Includes​ ​texts​ ​designed​ ​for​ ​professional​ ​spaces and work environments.​ ​Any​ ​genre​ ​that​ ​participates​ ​in​ ​the​ ​communicative​ ​practices of​ ​a​ ​workplace​ ​belongs​ ​in​ ​this​ ​category.​ ​Examples​ ​include​ ​business​ ​documents,​ ​feasibility reports,​ ​proposals,​ ​infographics,​ ​advertising​ ​and​ ​marketing​ ​documents,​ ​job​ ​documents (resumes​ ​and​ ​cover​ ​letters). Work produced for WRI 292: Professional Writing, as well as any other course that asks students to design texts for professional spaces and work environments, qualifies for submission to this category.

    Creative Writing

    Includes texts produced as a means of creative expression. Examples include short stories, poems, scripts, lyrics/songs, comedy writing, creative nonfiction, literary journalism, memoir, and satire.

    Writing in Foreign Languages

    The Writing in Foreign Languages category is open to any student writing composed in a language that is not their native/home language. Texts may fit any genre and any purpose. Subcategories: English, French, and Spanish.

  • Previous Winning Compositions

Why Cottey’s English program is unique.

Cottey’s English program is unique in four key ways:

Focus on Women Writers

As a women’s college, we believe the study of women’s lives and works will foster a new generation of leaders. A focus on women writers allows students to learn about women’s literary history in all its diversity, to consider how women have used writing as a way to create change, and to draw on these women writers’ experiences to create their own incredible futures. Cottey is one of the only colleges in the country to offer this focus.

Contextual Study

Students study literature and writing within the context of leadership, social responsibility, and global awareness. These threads infuse our curriculum, form the lenses through which we discuss texts, and shape our students’ sense of who they are and who they want to become.

Excursion Courses

Students take excursion courses that allow them to both “do English” and travel beyond our campus. Excursion courses are typically short-term interdisciplinary classes that culminate in travel to a literary destination. Some of our past offerings include Willa Cather’s Childhood Home and Memorial Prairie in Nebraska; The World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri; Mark Twain’s home in Hannibal, Missouri; and Jane Austen’s home in Chawton, England. Notably, these trips are paid for by the College.

Capstone Project

Students have the opportunity to complete a capstone project on a literary topic of their choosing. Capstone candidates work with two faculty members on a thesis and present their project to the campus community. Most undergraduate-level programs do not offer capstone programs of this type, instead reserving these challenging projects for graduate work. A list of English Capstone Projects from past years is featured here: Cottey Digital Commons


Student Testimonials

What students think of Cottey College.

Heather Taylor Class of '18
"The greatest strength of the English department is the professors. I have never met more caring and supportive individuals. They want the best for their students."
Alex Brown Class of '21
"The English professors have legendary compassion and patience. They spent time with me one-on-one to provide advice and help me develop my skills and ideas."
Sarah Gage Class of '18
"My English degree taught me how to communicate effectively, both written and orally. Cottey prepared me excellently for a career in the museum field. "
Christina Litherland Class of '17
"The English department always pushed me to be better, think deeper, and express my ideas, and they did it without belittling my work."
Aimee Young Class of '14
"The English program offered intensive work in focused areas; immersing myself in each topic was amazing. Generally, Cottey's quality is unmatched."
Abigail Baumgartner Class of '19
"My professors invested in me and each one of my classmates. The English degree at Cottey is high quality, it is personal, and it will prepare you for life."
Lauren Stephens Class of '16
"The professors in the English department are kind and enthusiastic. If asked, they will support you, your ideas, your hopes, and your education. "

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