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The Ph.D. program places primary emphasis on scholarship and research as preparation for teaching at the university or college level in comparative and world literature, as well as in the language and literature of the student’s specialization. It requires 50 credits beyond the M.A., comprehensive examinations in three areas, and a dissertation.
The core faculty in the Department of Comparative Literature has particular strength in comparative world cinema; silent-era film and fin-de-siècle media technologies; Asian film and literature (Chinese, Southeast Asian and South Asian); 19th Century German, British and American literature; Latin American literature and film; Criticism and Theory, and Textual Studies. We administer Ph.D. programs in the areas of Cinema and Media Studies, Criticism and Theory, and Textual Studies.
Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature, English, or any other literature, or equivalent background; advanced reading knowledge in two languages other than English. How to Apply
Direct Admission to the PhD program: Applicants who already hold a Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature, English or any other literature, or a related field may apply for direct admission to the Ph.D. program. Direct admission will be granted only in instances where, in the judgment of the Graduate Studies Committee, the candidate has sufficient preparation to pursue the Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the time of application.
Other Post-M.A. Admissions: Students applying for admission with an M.A. or equivalent graduate training in other disciplines, or who may require additional language preparation will be admitted as “Post M.A.” students. Formal application for admission to the Ph.D. program must be made no later than the end of the first year of residency.
Application for admission to the Ph.D. program: Continuing students seeking admission to the Ph.D. program must submit a letter of application to the Graduate Studies Committee, identifying anticipated areas of specialization for the Ph.D. examinations and providing the candidate’s current thinking concerning the pathway to the completion of the degree. The applicant must also include two brief letters of evaluation from the members of the M.A. reading committee or other faculty with whom the applicant has studied.
The entire application is to be submitted with the M.A. Essay, as approved by the M.A. reading committee.
We have switched to an online application system. The new application and directions for submission are now available at the following Graduate School website: https://www.grad.washington.edu/applForAdmiss/
If you are interested in a Teaching Assistantship, you must either upload a copy with the online application OR submit a hard copy of the following form directly to the department:
Note: The Department of Comparative Literature has relatively few teaching assistant positions of its own. Most Comparative Literature TAs are assigned to teaching duties in one or another of the national literature departments. All applicants will be considered for slots in Comparative Literature, but if you would like to be considered for an appointment in any of the following areas- Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, or German, you should also supply: 1) an academic autobiographical statement in the language, and 2) an audio recording of the statement. Please fill out the form mai with any supplemental materialsl to: Dept. of Comparative Literature, Box 354338, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-4338 ATTN: Graduate Program Assistant
Minimum of 90 post-baccalaureate degree credits at the 400 and 500 level, of which at least half in each section of the program must be at the 500 level. Of these total credits the program must include: 1) at least 30 credits in comparative literature courses; 2) 30 credits in the literature of major interest to the student; 3) 20 credits in the student’s minor field (or, if more than one minor field is chosen, at least 15 credits in each); 4) 10 elective credit courses chosen from any area of the student’s choice. One of two minor fields may be extra-literary. To count for degree credit, independent studies must be approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator before the student registers for the course.
Advanced reading knowledge in one language other than English and a basic reading knowledge of a second must be demonstrated before Ph.D. examinations are administered. Language competence is attested either by exams or by completion of satisfactory coursework in the language.
The General Examination requires one quarter to complete and is taken after the 90 credit course requirement and language requirements have been completed. The examination must be taken within three quarters of completion of course work. It consists of the following two sections: 1) nine-hour written examinations in each of the following three areas: a) a period exam in the student’s primary national literature; b) comparative literature exam; and c) comparative theory exam; 2) an oral comprehensive examination evaluating the student’s overall preparation for dissertation work.
Dissertation topics can be chosen from a broad range of areas including: 1) the comparative study of authors or themes in different languages; 2) issues in the fields of theory of literature and history of criticism; 3) the study of literary authors or themes whose significance transcends national or linguistic boundaries; 4) the study of such phenomena as transmission, reception, and influence. Candidates may request any member of the graduate faculty in their major or minor field to supervise the dissertation.
Candidates must pass an oral examination devoted to the dissertation and to the field or fields with which it is concerned.
Comparative Literature graduate students are encouraged to study abroad by participating in exchange programs offered through the individual language and literature departments or through the University of Washington’s Office of International Programs and Exchanges.
Progress Guidelines for current students.