Comparative Literature

The Comparative Literature Graduate Program enables students to study the production, reception, and interpretation of written texts and related media from a comprehensive perspective involving at least two national literatures. Comparative literature has long crossed national linguistic frontiers. The discipline today questions the very basis of such boundaries, exploring the construction of national literatures, languages, and traditions and, insofar as this can be read in and out of verbal and other media, of nations and national consciousness itself. Extending its reflections on limits still further and in dialogue with other disciplines, the interpretive perspectives of comparative literature are not only crossdisciplinary, multi-media, and multilingual, but global. The aim is to analyze the world’s cultures both as expressions of the various interdependent histories that have framed them, and as manifestations of the multifacetedness inscribed in the different forms by which human beings shape and communicate their experience. These forms can range from a single literary genre, period, movement, or tradition to larger concepts and constructs such as gender, sexuality, theory, or culture. Areas of analysis may also include authorship and the literary work, literacy, genre, literary history, and the canon. Students wishing to pursue graduate work in comparative literature should read the guidelines for the MA and PhD degrees in this field, which are available at

Course code for this program is COML. 

Graduate Degree Program(s)

Master’s Degree

Prerequisites. In addition to an undergraduate major in a relevant field, students applying for admission to the master's program in comparative literature should have completed three years of college-level study or its equivalent in one foreign language. Students are also encouraged to begin study of a second foreign language before applying.

Course Work Requirements. Candidates for the MA in comparative literature must take a total of 10 courses (representing 30 credit hours). Half the required credit hours are in courses offered by the Comparative Literature Graduate Program. At least 9 hours are in the department of the student’s primary literature, and an additional 6 hours are in the department of the secondary literature.

Examinations and Thesis. Candidates for the MA in comparative literature must submit and defend orally a master’s thesis.

Doctoral Degree

Prerequisites. Students are accepted for doctoral study in comparative literature directly from the BA or after completion of an MA in comparative literature, a national literature, or a related discipline. All students seeking admission to doctoral study must be prepared to take graduate level courses in two foreign languages. The doctoral program does not provide time for remedial language work. Students unable to meet this requirement should consider applying for the MA program.

Course Work Requirements. Students who receive their MA in comparative literature from CU-Boulder are required to take a minimum of 48 hours of graduate course work, including 30 hours completed during the preparation for the MA and 18 hours completed during the first year of doctoral studies. Students receiving the MA from another institution or in another subject are required to take a minimum of 36 credit hours (12 courses) for the degree. Students who enter the PhD program directly from a BA program are required to take a minimum of 48 hours of graduate course work.

Examinations and Course Work. All PhD candidates take a comprehensive examination and a final examination. The final examination is an oral defense of the doctoral dissertation, and is conducted by the student’s advisory committee after all other requirements for the PhD have been completed.