The short answer is, yes, I studied English in college, and it was helpful but not necessary for my career as a writer.
The long answer is that I majored in English with an emphasis in Secondary Education. I also got a minor in Philosophy with an emphasis in Hopeless Crushes on Grad Students. I wrote a lot of papers, but I only took two classes on specifically on writing, and one of those was writing for educators, which was as mind-numbingly boring and useless as it sounds. I didn’t start writing seriously until much, much later. And many, if not most, of my writer friends didn’t study writing in college.
So…NO. You absolutely don’t need to major in English or writing to become a writer.
That’s not to say that my years in college were not useful. I read a lot of books I might not have otherwise, including German philosophers who I came to adore. I learned to read with a critical eye, and articulate what did or didn’t work in a piece of writing. I learned to take criticism of my work as exactly that: criticism of my WORK, not me — which is essential if you want to write for a living. I learned to watch people closely, and the interactions between people even MORE closely, (a benefit of dorm living not listed in the brochure). I got my heart broken an astonishing number of times. Most importantly, I managed to fall in with a wildly eclectic, intelligent, interesting group of people, and take all sorts of chances I would not have, if left to my own devices.
But here’s the thing: you can do all of that without a writing degree.
In my opinion, you should study something in college that interests you — and if that is Human Services, or Zoology, or 18th Century Russian Politics, go for it. Read widely and thoughtfully. Say yes to as many things as you can, so long as you don’t endanger yourself or others in the process. Notice everything. Give yourself the widest, deepest possible well to draw from when you write. It will be far, far better preparation than any course you can take, and your words will be unimaginably richer for it.