— A brown English major is a big deal in the University of Kentucky’s English department, a place where many people who are not native English speakers get their start.
But for some students who have been studying the language for more than a decade, studying to be an English major — a bachelor’s degree that requires at least a master’s degree in a particular area — can be an intimidating prospect.
The school, known for its emphasis on social and cultural diversity, is the latest to make changes to its student body after a national uproar over the treatment of black students in the department.
The college recently announced a series of changes, including the hiring of black professors and administrators.
In Kentucky, English majors make up 15 percent of all college students, but only about 5 percent of applicants, according to the College Board.
The University of California, Berkeley, offers a bachelor of arts in English, and the University at Albany, in New York, offers an English-language bachelor’s.
Brown University also announced the hiring in a statement Thursday of a professor of African American studies who was a graduate of the department for more a decade than anyone else, said Sarah Brown, a graduate student in English who was hired for the role.
“This is an important step for the Brown community and for the university,” Brown said.
Brown, which has a student body of about 3,000, said Brown was one of the few colleges in the country that had a diverse student body and that it was in the process of finding a professor who was able to teach English at a high level, but was not a black person.
“We want to make sure we are building an inclusive, diverse and welcoming community that includes students from all backgrounds and races,” Brown added.
Students can earn an English degree with a master of fine arts in any of six areas: literature, music, communications, business, or international relations.
In recent years, many colleges and universities have been trying to improve diversity among their student bodies.
Last fall, California’s universities began requiring a bachelor in English degree, a requirement for all California students who want to earn a master degree in the state.
The requirements have been met by the University California, where the new program is called the Black Studies B.A.
In 2014, the department at the University, where Brown is based, made headlines for its hiring of the first black dean of its English program, and its hiring in 2017 of the dean of the African American Studies program.