10 Successful People Who Were English Majors

As an English major I am often asked either, “What are you going to do with that,” or, “So you want to be a teacher?” Many people either assume that if you’re studying English you plan to teach or they think you’re crazy, which is fair, considering if you look at the news lately English majors are not the most successful people and are usually ranked as the least.

Even so, I don’t appreciate when people try to make me doubt myself or my education choices. I want to be an English major and I believe in myself enough to trust that I will be able to do something profitable with what I learn. Plus, truthfully many people don’t end up doing what they thought they would be doing in college so relax.

That being said, there are bunch of people who have been successful after they studied English as an undergrad. Here’s 10, just to name a few.

1. Conan O’Brien


Many people don’t know this but before Conan O’Brien went into the show biz he attended Harvard University where he was a double major in history and English. And look at him now.

2. Barbara Walters


This boss lady who now co-hosts The View got her Bachelor of Arts in English from Sarah Lawrence College. Clearly English majors are destined to be talk show hosts. Just saying.

3. Steven Spielberg


Before he became famous (and an amazing) director Steven Spielberg got his English degree from California State University. English majors are good on screen and behind the scenes.

4. Diane Sawyer


This well-known news anchor learned how to master the English language at Wellesley College and now has been on multiple TV shows and continues to report the news in a flawless manner. Sawyer also puts her degree to good use as she writes for these shows as well.

5. Toni Morrison


Toni Morrison got her B.A. in English from Howard University and then went on to get her M.A. in English from Cornell University. It’s obvious she put both of these degrees to good use as she has written multiple best-selling and award winning novels.

6. Joan Cusack


Joan Cusack got her B.A. in English from University of Wisconsin-Madison and has since become an Academy Award nominated actress. Obviously we’re also learning how to act in our English classes. Get on our level.

7. Jodie Foster


I wasn’t kidding about those acting classes. Jodie Foster studied English at Yale University and has become a global star, acting in various memorable roles, most notably, Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (a role she won an Oscar for by the way).

8. James Franco


Not only are English majors successful but they’re also very attractive. To be fair that’s probably something we learn outside of the classroom but it’s worth noting. James Franco received his B.A. in English from UCLA. Ohhhhh kill ’em!

9. Jon Hamm


The good-looking English majors continue. Jon Hamm earned his B.A. in English from the University of Missouri and is now best known for his role as Donald Draper on the hit AMC show, Mad Men.

10. Martin Scorsee


Last but certainly not least is Academy Award winning director, Martin Scorsee. Besides his Oscar win he has been Oscar-nominated multiple times and has been nominated this year as well. Scorsee is not only a director however, but also writes screenplays and acts. Go English majors!

I say this all to say that don’t let anyone scare you away from doing what you really want. You can study whatever you want to study and then later decide to do something else. It’s your life. Live it.


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