Comparative Literature, MA

for the degree of Master of Arts in Comparative Literature

chair of department: Robert A. Rushing

director of graduate studies: Brett Kaplan

department website:

college website:

overview of graduate college admissions & requirements: Graduate Admissions

overview of college admissions & requirements:

department office: 3080 Foreign Languages Building, 707 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801

phone: (217) 333-4987


Note that the Program does not admit students to a terminal MA program any longer.

The candidate must demonstrate a competency in at least two foreign languages as well as in English. Latin is required for students specializing in European and/or American literatures before 1800. Competence in the languages offered is measured either by the successful completion of one advanced course in the literature of each of the languages chosen or by passing an examination administered by the program in comparative literature with the assistance of an expert in the language concerned. This choice is intended to provide for languages that may not be taught in regular departments.

Graduate Degree Programs in Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature, MA


Medieval Studies

Comparative Literature, PhD


Medieval Studies

The Program in Comparative & World Literature offers graduate courses leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree, and is designed to provide a systematic study of subjects and problems common to several literatures. Its purpose is to enable students who have varied linguistic competence and preparation to explore the theory of literature and criticism; the interrelations of several literatures; the main currents, periods, and movements in literary history; the development of literary themes and types; and the relations between literature and the other arts. Students are not normally admitted to a terminal master's degree program.


A student entering the program should have an undergraduate major in Comparative Literature, English, the classics, or a foreign language. Majors in history and philosophy or other humanistic areas that present suitable linguistic and literary competence may also be granted admission by the Admissions Committee. Students entering with a recognized Masters degree from another university or from another department of this University have the option of taking the program's regular Master of Arts examination at the end of the first year as a qualifying test. For all other students, the Master of Arts examination taken at the end of the second year will function as the qualifying test to proceed to stage two of the PhD program.

Applicants should apply online (, submit a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation and a writing sample.

Original transcripts showing all undergraduate and graduate work completed should be sent to SLCL Graduate Student Services, 3070 Foreign Languages Bldg., 707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL  61801. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required and should be submitted to institution code 1836. Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and must score at least 105 on the internet-based test (iBT); they must also pass the speaking sub-section of the iBT with a minimum score of 24 (see Applications are accepted for fall admission only. Application questions may be directed to SLCL Graduate Student Services at

Graduate Teaching Experience

Although teaching is not a general Graduate College requirement, experience in teaching is considered an important part of the graduate experience in this program. Non-native English speakers must first pass a test of their oral English ability (see

Financial Aid

The Program aims to support all graduate students for five years through a combination of fellowships, teaching, and other means, but support is always contingent on the student making timely progress to the degree. Such progress is measured by course load, taking exams on time, grades, and other factors. 

for the degree of Master of Arts in Comparative Literature

The candidate must complete a minimum of 32 gh of credit, including two courses in the theory of literature (CWL 501 and CWL 502), and two seminars in comparative literature selected from CWL 551, CWL 561, CWL 571, and CWL 581. At least 12 of the other 16 gh should be taken in two or three national literatures in a distribution approved by the adviser. The candidate must pass a written examination based on a reading list, which is designed to test knowledge of literary history as well as ability to interpret a literary or critical text.

For additional details and requirements refer to the department's graduate handbook and the Graduate College Handbook.

CWL 501
CWL 502
Theory of Literature
and Methods of Comparative Lit
Select two of the following:8
Seminar Lit Movements
Seminar Genres - Forms
Seminar in Literary Relations
Seminar Lit Themes
One or two courses in the major literature4-8
At least one course in the minor literature4
One or two courses from the above categories. (A student may take one course in a non-literary field that will provide cultural and historical contexts for the study of the student's literatures.)4-8
Total Hours32

Other Requirements

Other requirements may overlap
The candidate must pass a written examination based on a reading list, which is designed to test knowledge of literary history as well as ability to interpret a literary or critical text.
Minimum 500-level Hours Required Overall: 20
Minimum GPA: 3.25