Senior Portfolio

English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies

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All English majors are required to complete a portfolio and pass ENGL 4909 in order to graduate. You will need to register for ENGL 4909: Senior Portfolio during the semester BEFORE the term in which you will graduate.

The Spring 2017 deadline for submitting your portfolio is Friday of the 14th week of classes (April 21, 2017). You submit your portfolio by “sharing” its Google Drive folder with your advisor and this year's Portfolio assessment coordinator, Dr. Burke Scarbrough (

See below for instructions on how to store materials in online portfolios and on how to share these materials with other people.

Why a Portfolio?

Senior Portfolio is a resource for you, an assessment of your work, and a reflection on the English Department. When you complete the major, you will be able to take with you a portfolio that represents your best writing; this material may serve as a resource for you as you apply for employment or graduate school. You will need to complete a minimally satisfactory portfolio in order to pass English 4909, which is required for graduation. After you graduate, the English Department faculty will use the accumulated portfolios to evaluate their own effectiveness in helping students reach the English Department’s Student Learning Outcomes and other program goals.

What goes into your Senior Portfolio?

  1. An essay selected from your work in ENGL 3906 - Methods of Literary Study.
  2. A two- to six-page essay in which you analyze closely and carefully a single short work of literature or an excerpt from a larger work. Choose an essay that best represents your ability to read sensitively and deliberately, to use critical terminology appropriately, and to conform to the rules of standard English.
  3. A research paper from an upper-division course. This essay must be at least eight pages long, demonstrate mastery of research and MLA documentation methods, and make use of at least four scholarly secondary sources. No more than one of these may be scholarly Web resources; the rest must be scholarly text resources (articles published in academic journals or scholarly books). Choose an essay that best demonstrates your ability to engage with secondary critical sources, to situate a text within its historical, literary, and/or cultural context, and to conform to the rules of standard written English.
  4. A self-selected piece of writing (creative writing or an essay) that you feel represents your best work and complements the other work in the portfolio. In particular, you should do your best to ensure that items 1-4 in the portfolio demonstrate your engagement with a range of literary genres.
  5. A resume and cover letter to an audience appropriate for your career plans. A substantial portion of the cover letter should discuss the knowledge, skills, and experience that you have gained from your English major; in other words, one purpose of the cover letter is to convincingly answer the question, “How has this English major helped prepare you for this sort of career/future?” For detailed information about resumes and cover letters (instructions and models of different kinds), consult the Career Handbook available from UMD's Career Services office, which will assist you in creating these materials and with preparing for your career after graduation. Career Services also offers a free resume and cover letter critique service (requires a 10-day review period).
  6. A two-page document titled "Portfolio Introduction" that includes the following items:
    • The title of each paper with the category that it fulfills.
    • After each title, which course, term, year and instructor this paper was written for.
    • After that, a brief (~150-word) statement of the paper's argument and what you learned from writing it.
    • Include a single brief (~150-word) statement about the cover letter and resume. This should summarize your career plans and indicate the major connections you see between your English major and those plans.

PDF iconSee a Sample Portfolio Introduction

If you plan to graduate this year, please begin working on your portfolio right away.

 How to Create and Submit Your Portfolio

  • Go to your e-mail page at "" and log in as you normally would.
  • Click on the "Apps" button in the upper-right-hand corner (it looks like nine little squares). Then click on "Drive" in the scroll-down menu that appears.
  • Click on the "New" button in the upper-left-hand corner and scroll down to "Folder". Name that folder "Your Name - English 4909 Portfolio".
  • Click on the "New" button and scroll down to “File Upload.” This will open a window that allows you to browse documents on your computer for upload into Google Drive and then into the folder you have created. Each document that is in Google Drive will be accessible to you from any computer with a web browser.
  • Upload each of the required documents listed in “What Goes into a Senior Portfolio” above.

 To provide access:

  • In your main Google Drive, click on your folder's name.
  • Near the top of the screen (or after right-clicking on the folder name), look for the "Share" button, which is a picture of person with plus sign floating over her right shoulder. Click on that "Share" button.
  • This will open up a "Share" window in which you can enter UserIDs or email addresses for anyone with whom you wish to share a paper.
  • The documents you upload to your English portfolio should be in MS Word or Rich Text (RTF) format. If you originally created them in some other word processing program, be sure to convert them before you put them in your portfolio
  • Keep adding to your portfolio as you progress through the program so that it is not a burden for you at the deadline period.

Please remember that your ENGL 4909: Senior Portfolio requirement is not complete until you share a fully completed Portfolio with your advisor and the English Assessment Coordinator.

If you have questions about the content of your portfolio, please contact your advisor.