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Ph.D. in Comp Lit

Contact | Introduction | Admission Requirements | Application Materials | Program Curriculum | Language Requirements | General Examination | Dissertation | Final Examination | Study Abroad | Forms and Guidelines

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Students interested in applying for Autumn 2020, please read the following

message from our Graduate Program Coordinator!


Graduate Program Coordinator: Stephen Groening (
Graduate Program Advisor: Yuko Mera (


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 60 credits beyond the M.A., comprehensive examinations in three areas, and a dissertation.

The core faculty in the Department of Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media 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; and Textual Studies. We administer Ph.D. programs in the areas of Cinema and Media Studies, Criticism and Theory, and Textual Studies.

Admission Requirements

Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature, Film Studies, English, or any other literature, or equivalent background; advanced reading knowledge in a language 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.

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.


Comparative Literature supports programs leading to both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. Applications for both programs are received in the Autumn quarter, on a schedule as established by the University of Washington Graduate School.

The application and directions for submission are now available at the following Graduate School website:

Please refer to the following for information to apply to the Graduate School.

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:

Assistantship and Fellowship Application

National language and literature departments at the University of Washington may have opportunities for TAships teaching language classes.  Application process and deadlines will vary by department.  Please inquire directly with the department/language program you are interested in If you have a native level speaking proficiency in a foreign language. 

Program Curriculum

Course work

Minimum of 90 post-baccalaureate graded 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.

Language Requirements

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.

General Examination

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.


Final Examination

Candidates must pass an oral examination devoted to the dissertation and to the field or fields with which it is concerned.

Study Abroad

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.

Information for Current Students

Progress Guidelines 

Independent Study Policy (PDF)

Dissertation Procedures and Time Line (PDF)

Dissertation Quarterly Progress Report (PDF)

Travel Award Request Form (PDF)