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In addition to the broad range of courses offered each semester, we provide many other ways for students to engage in the intellectual life of the department.

Creative Writing Program

The Creative Writing Program offers students the opportunity to pursue fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Students have the opportunity to pursue a creative writing concentration within the English major. Students who are not English majors can declare a minor in creative writing.

View the Creative Writing Program website for more information.

English Honors Program

The English Department Honors Program is designed for selected members of the senior class who have demonstrated excellence and an aptitude for independent research in their studies of English or American literature.

Candidates for honors in English, who are admitted to the program in their junior year, must take a course in literary theory and a seminar, in addition to writing a two-semester senior English honors thesis. Admission to honors is by invited application to the English Honors Committee in the junior year. Students may be members of both the College Honors Program and the English Honors Program. Such students need write only one English thesis for both programs.

This program, which officially began in the 1998-99 academic year, is designed to offer additional challenges and opportunities to the most academically successful English majors at Holy Cross. Each fall, junior English majors who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.6 or higher in English courses, or who have been particularly recommended by their professors, are invited to apply. The program is especially appropriate for students who are considering graduate studies in English literature or creative writing.

Admission to the program is competitive. In recent years, 10 or fewer students have been selected to participate, based upon their performance in English courses, the recommendations of their professors, and their application essays.

Once a student has joined the program, that student must complete the following requirements, in any order, in order to graduate with honors in English from Holy Cross:

  1. Take a course in literary criticism or theory (in English or in another department, if appropriate)
  2. Take an advanced seminar in English
  3. Write an original two-semester senior honors thesis on a genre, period, author, or topic of the student's choice, or in a creative literary genre. All thesis writers earn one credit toward general graduation requirements and one credit toward the upper-level course requirements for the English major. 

For more information on this program, contact Madigan Haley, Assistant Professor in the English department, in Fenwick 222.

Sigma Tau Delta – Nu Chi Chapter


Sigma Tau Delta is the International English Honor Society. A member of the Association of College Honor Societies, it was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University. The purposes of the society are (1) to confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies; (2) to promote interest in literature and the English language on campus and in the community; and (3) to foster the discipline of English in all its aspects, including creative and critical writing. Sigma Tau Delta offers several scholarships, awards, and opportunities for publication in The Rectangle, its award-winning literary magazine, and the Sigma Tau Delta Review, its literary journal for critical and analytical essays.

The Holy Cross chapter of Sigma Tau Delta strives to spread its love of literature through the campus community by hosting events and celebrating language’s power of enrichment. For additional information, contact Elise Saad, English department Administrative Assistant.


Active Membership: currently enrolled students, undergraduate or graduate, who are majoring in English, and who meet the requisite academic requirements (below).

Associate Membership: currently enrolled students, undergraduate or graduate, and alumni, who meet the requisite academic requirements but who are not majoring or minoring in English. Associate members have all the rights and privileges of active members but may not hold office.

Academic Requirements

  • must have completed a minimum of two courses in English beyond first year English courses
  • have attained a minimum of a B (3.0) average in English courses
  • rank in the top 35 percent of the class in general scholarship
  • be recommended for membership by at least three English department faculty members


$48 total. $45 goes toward the one-time international initiation fee, which entitles each chapter member to receive The Rectangle and the Sigma Tau Delta Newsletter for one year. Members also receive a certificate, membership card, and pin. All fees must be paid prior to initiation (see current calendar) and confers life membership in the Society. Partial fee waivers for hardship are also available.


In early February of the spring semester, a list of students academically eligible for membership will be given to all English department faculty members requesting that they nominate students for membership. Students who meet academic requirements for membership are invited to join Nu Chi Chapter of Holy Cross and Sigma Tau Delta. Members are inducted annually in the spring semester. 


A number of benefits attend membership in Sigma Tau Delta, including opportunities to present work, earn scholarships and awards, and submit papers for publication. Members may also wish to submit a paper to the the annual Sigma Tau Delta convention, usually held in March. Membership in Sigma Tau Delta also entails a commitment to spreading interest in language and literature at Holy Cross. Past events have included “Dinand in the Dark,” a reading that coincided with Halloween. Members have traditionally edited and published The Criterion, a journal of non-fiction writing by Holy Cross students.

The Purple

The Purple Vol CXXXIII is a literary magazine written, edited and published by Holy Cross students to provide a showcase for critical and creative writing. The magazine is published once or twice a year and is comprised of poetry, short stories, critical essays, photographs and artwork.

Lectures and Social Events

The department also hosts a number of lectures and social events each academic year, providing space for faculty and students to engage in dialogue with one another outside of the classroom. Examples include:

  • Working Writers Series – annual lecture series that brings four to six working writers to campus each year to read from their works, discuss their craft, and answer questions from students. Recent visitors have included Junot Diaz, John D’Agata, and Mary Jo Salter, A.E. Stallings, and Rachel Hadas. This year we hosted eight working writers, four in our Fall '21 Working Writer Series and four in our Spring '22 Working Writer Series.
  • Endowed Lecture Series – lectures sponsored by a number of funds and foundations, including the Professor Edward Callahan Irish Studies Support Fund and the Thomas Grace, S.J. Memorial Lecture
  • The Helen Whall “Mistress Quickly” Fund – supports events that promote social interaction between faculty and students

Teacher Education Program

The Teacher Education Program (TEP) at Holy Cross prepares students for licensure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Students majoring in biology, chemistry, classics, English, French, history, mathematics, physics, Spanish and visual arts are eligible to apply to the program. In addition to taking courses in the major, students enroll in education courses specifically designed to promote excellence in teaching.

The Holy Cross TEP places a special emphasis on issues surrounding urban education.

Visit the Teacher Education Program site for more information.