Should You Major in English Literature or Linguistics?

Literature or Linguistics- the debate has been there since long. Some find the pragmatic and objective approach to Linguistics boring while some consider the bulky reading activities of Literature tiresome and annoying. If you too have the same problem, this blog is here to help you choose the right path.

Following is the comparison of the two fields on the basis of various prospects.

Who Should?

The most important thing to consider before opting for a major subject at a higher level is your own aptitude and interest in the subject. You should consider your own inclination and should be your own judge to find the inside motivation for a specific field. Keeping this thing in mind we should analyze these two fields here.

Linguistics, as its definition suggests, is a science and therefore it needs people with a scientific approach and a consistent behavior to pursue this field. In linguistics, you will be asked to experiment with words, phrases, and sentences just like a scientist of physical sciences experiment with things in a lab. The point is that this field is more science like and fewer arts like. So, if you feel to have the disposition of this sort, you are welcome on board. This field has many interesting subjects and concepts to offer which will change the course of your thinking drastically.

Literature, on the other, is a much diverse field and there are no boundaries for its scope of study (literally). If you can read bulks of literary texts and have a taste for them, Literature is your way to go ahead. Moreover, you have to be creative enough to shine in this field. This field will introduce you to a completely new world of words and books where you will be introduced to worlds which are not yours.

Potential Career Options:

The career options which can be sought by the degree holder of English literature or Linguistics are mainly the same. These options are available in (but not limited to) education field, freelancing, journalism, media, civil services, and politics. Specific career options for people with Linguistics degree are (but not limited to); discourse analyst and translator/decoder at various departments. People with a literature degree can start their own writing career or co-author books with other writers. So, from the perspective of the available career options, we can easily say that both the degrees have got almost the same value in the market.

Skill You Acquire:

Having discussed the different aspects of the two subjects, we have still not arrived at a concluding point where we can clearly call one of them as a better option. For this purpose, we will look at the different utilitarian skills (skills which have weight-age in the job market) which are developed as a result of studying these subjects.

In the case of literature, the most important skill that is developed during the course of study is creativity. A person having creative skills will never at any point in his/her career. Such people are able to adjust themselves to any kind of situation and are ready to face challenges. Secondly, students of literature have very high comprehension skills. They are able to easily contextualize things and make them easy to understand. In this way, their problem-solving skills are improved. Moreover, communication skills- both written and oral- of students of literature are also improved. They are familiar with innovative lexical structures and vocabulary and are able to use these to their advantage. A large amount of reading adds to their understanding of the world and language. In addition to the above-mentioned skills, they also acquire other skills like:

  1. Communication skills,
  2. Comprehension skills,
  3. Psychological improvement.

On the other hand, students who opt for Linguistics as their major subject acquire relatively different sort of skill-set. Students of linguistics are taught about discourses, ideologies, ideological state apparatus and other such concepts and how they work. Therefore, they are well-prepared for discourse analysis and identifying false consciousness. This thing helps them in media field where they employed to make the masses aware of how discourses are thrust upon them. In addition, to discourse analysis, students of Linguistics are well-acquainted with structural analysis of written and spoken sentences. This skill improves their employability in the field of translations and decoding. Other less important skills which are developed by studying linguistics at a higher level are:

  1. Comprehension skills,
  2. Communication skills,
  3. Discourse analysis.


To sum up, we can arrive at the conclusion that the factor which should be considered before opting either for literature or linguistics is the person’s own interest and inclination. One should consider the above-mentioned outlooks of both the courses and then decide according to his/her own will and interests.

But, if you still it difficult to choose one of these fields on the basis of your own interests and inclination, my opinion is to go for Literature. The reason why I am suggesting Literature is the broad spectrum and scope of this subject. As we have discussed earlier, the market value of both the fields is almost the same but the unique skills that you acquire by studying literature are unmatchable. So, a degree with a major in literature has a slight edge over a degree with a major in Linguistics.

1 thought on “Should You Major in English Literature or Linguistics?”

  1. Well, now both the degrees have been merged into one as BS (Hons) English Literature & Linguistics which is what I’ll be studying soon.
    But I just wanted to say that it is quite a relief that there is at least one good Pakistani website that is meant for English majors. Hopefully you guys will be posting more content soon! I can’t wait.


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