Comparative Literature, PhD

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy 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


A candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree must fulfill the general requirements of the Graduate College in addition to those specified for the master's degree. At least 12 additional gh of work, normally at the 500 level, should be taken in courses regularly offered by the literature departments; among these, courses cross listed with the program in comparative literature are especially recommended. The candidate is responsible for a knowledge of the history of the literature in one modern language. The student also selects a period of major interest and is responsible for a knowledge of two other literatures in this period, which are considered as minors. The periods may be the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Neoclassicism and the Enlightenment, or the modern (nineteenth and twentieth centuries). Some chronological variations in coordinating the minors will be allowed for students studying non-Western literatures. A preliminary examination, i.e. a four-part written examination based on the individual program, and an oral examination with emphasis on the thesis project must be passed. The candidate must present an acceptable thesis embracing several national literatures and pass a final oral examination on the thesis.

Graduate Degree Programs in Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature, MA


Medieval Studies

Comparative Literature, PhD


Medieval Studies

The Program in Comparative & World Literature offers graduate programs leading to the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy 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. We consider the Master of Arts program to be the first step toward the Ph.D. degree; we expect students admitted to the M.A. program to receive the M.A. and go on to complete a Ph.D.  We therefore do not offer a formal terminal M.A. 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 comparative literature and critical theory component and a literary component of this program's regular Master of Arts examination at the end of the first year as a qualifying test. All other students typically take the Master of Arts examination at the end of their second year as the qualifying exam to proceed to stage two of the PhD. 

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 Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature

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

CWL 582Proseminar4
Select three of the following: (One of these courses must be cross-cultural.) 112
Seminar Lit Movements
Seminar Genres - Forms
Seminar in Literary Relations
Seminar Lit Themes
Two courses in the major literature8
One course in each of the minor literatures of specialization8
Language Requirement: Command of at least three languages besides English. Three of these four languages must coincide with the student's areas of specialization and with the dissertation field.
CWL 599Thesis Research (min/max applied toward degree)24-32
Total Hours32

Other Requirements

Other requirements may overlap
Students must be enrolled in graduate seminars until the preliminary examinations are taken and passed.
Masters Degree Required for Admission to PhD? Yes
Qualifying Eaxam Required: No
Preliminary Exam Required: Yes
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required: Yes
Dissertation Deposit Required: Yes
Minimum GPA: 3.25