To Be or Not To Be: Shakespeare in the English Department

Nearly 50 percent of North Carolina colleges and universities no longer require their English majors to take a course in the work of William Shakespeare, says a report from the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Shakespeare is widely considered the most important author in the English language.

The Pope Center’s report, “To Be or Not to Be: Shakespeare in the English Department,” is based on information from the Web sites of 49 four-year universities in North Carolina; when clarification was needed, university personnel were contacted. The report indicates, by specific school, which require Shakespeare for their English majors and which do not.

Editor’s note: We learned after publication that we made an error. Mount Olive College, a private school, was listed as not requiring Shakespeare for its English majors. That is wrong; it does require its English majors to take a course in Shakespeare.

With this correction, 18 of the 34 private colleges surveyed still require Shakespeare, and 16 do not. Thus, 47 percent of the private schools do not require Shakespeare for English majors.

As indicated in the report, seven of the 15 public four-year campuses (North Carolina School of the Arts was excluded), also 47 percent, do not require Shakespeare. Taken together, approximately 47 percent of all surveyed schools do not require Shakespeare.