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

Program overview

The study of literature at UC Santa Cruz is organized as an interdisciplinary field coordinated through a single Department of Literature, rather than through separate departments of English, modern languages, and classics. This structure fosters innovative and comparative approaches to literature among both faculty and students. Courses in the major encompass traditional literary history and interpretation as well as cross-cultural inquiry and current theoretical debates.

Photo: Literature Department faculty member Zac Zimmer is an interdisciplinary scholar of literature, culture and technology in the hemispheric Americas. His book First Contact: Speculative Visions of the Conquest of the Americas is forthcoming. In addition to his current research on the infrastructure of technosystems, he co-facilitates the Ethics & Astrobiology reading group, part of UCSC's Astrobiology Initiative. In the Literature department, he teaches classes on Latin American literature, science fiction, ethics & technology, and the poetics of California infrastructure. Part of Zimmer's research into digital privacy includes minimizing his online photo footprint.

Zac Zimmer

Learning Experience

Study and Research Opportunities

  • B.A. with concentrations in general literature, creative writing, and language literatures; undergraduate minor; M.A.; Ph.D.

  • Students in the creative writing concentration work with faculty in upper-division workshops to improve their creative writing skills. In the senior year, each student produces a senior project consisting of a significant body of creative work. Admission to this concentration is selective.

  • 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, founded in 1981, focuses on the study of the novels of Charles Dickens and other Victorian-era writers. During the Project's annual summer conference, The Dickens Universe, undergraduates 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. The Literature Department faculty require that all literature majors have one year of college-level proficiency in a second language.

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. Transfer students are urged to complete the Literature language proficiency requirement before transferring to UC Santa Cruz. The Literature language proficiency requirement is as follows: one year (three quarters or equivalent) of college-level study of a non-English language or demonstrated reading ability at this level.


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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