Area of Focus
  • Humanities
Degrees Offered
  • B.A.
  • M.A.
  • Ph.D.
  • Undergraduate Minor
Academic Division
  • Humanities
  • Literature

Program overview

Literature prepares us to understand and explore how we think, feel, and see the world; what we are and what we want to be, for ourselves and in relation to others. Literature is crucial for freedom and its manyfold expressions, as seen in multiple fields for which the exploration and critical analysis of effective and transformational thought, feeling and communication is key. They include careers in the teaching sector at its multiple levels, from primary school to college; the new technologies sector, such as game design and discourse and data analysis; governmental and non-profit work such as in municipalities, public service, and foundations; publishing and journalism; publicity and marketing in the old and new media contexts, and many more.

Zac Zimmer

Learning Experience

Study and Research Opportunities

  • Literature B.A. with concentrations in general literature, creative writing, and language literatures; undergraduate minorgraduate study in literature includes Ph.D. and free-standing M.A. programs

  • The Creative Writing concentration encourages students to think creatively and analytically about language and culture. Creative Writing students experiment with their writing in supportive and challenging workshops, and discuss thematic, linguistic, and structural choices with instructors and peers. Creative Writing is a small, close-knit community of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. Students are accepted into the creative writing concentration by application. All students may participate in student-run publications and the campus radio station, KZSC.

  • Opportunities exist for students to complete independent research projects with a faculty sponsor. Funding may be available through The Humanities Institute or other UCSC programs.

  • The Dickens Project at UCSC focuses on the study of the novels of Charles Dickens and other Victorian-era writers. The Dickens project hosts an annual summer conference (Dickens Universe), where undergraduate students have the opportunity to study with Dickens scholars from around the world in a series of events that includes discussion seminars, lectures, movie screenings, and even a Victorian dance!

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

In addition to completing the courses required for UC admission, high school students planning to major in literature at UC Santa Cruz should emphasize reading and writing skills in high school. Background in a foreign language is helpful. All literature majors are required to have one year of college-level study of a non-English language or demonstrated reading ability at this level.

Students studying together with laptops

Transfer Requirements

Transfer students planning to major in literature should have some training in analytical and expository writing; an introductory course in literary interpretation and one additional literature course are especially desirable. All literature majors are required to have one year of college level study of a non-English language or demonstrated reading ability at this level. Transfer students are urged to complete the Literature language proficiency requirement before transferring to UC Santa Cruz.


Learning Outcomes

The UCSC literature program develops students' capacity for critical analysis of texts and other media, the historical and social contexts of such texts, and the role cultural and linguistic differences play in the interpretation of texts both translation and in a second language.

Literature graduates are effective communicators. Literature courses require students to evaluate multiple interpretations of texts, write effective argumentative prose, situate texts in relation to a critical/theoretical tradition, and design and initiate a substantive independent scholarly or creative project.

Students graduate with experience reading a variety of texts from a breadth of world cultures, traditions and historical periods.


Student giving a speech

Internships and Career Opportunities

After graduation, students with degrees in literature typically begin careers in publishing across various media; in teaching at all levels; in public service, law, and international relations. Many also go on to graduate school. Whatever path they choose, their powers of expression and analysis are highly prized. Please visit UCSC Career Success for career-related information associated with the literature major, including information on the following career paths:

  • Advertising
  • Civil service
  • Communications
  • Editing
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Library science
  • Literary criticism
  • Literary research
  • Professional writing
  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Translation

Program Contact



apartment Humanities 1, Room 303 
phone (831) 459-4778

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