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Our Program:

Bilingual writers are not Russian and (say) French writers... They are something else entirely, not necessarily more or less, but something definitely different... The conscious awareness of option is both the greatest blessing that bilingualism provides the writer and the greatest curse.

Professor Elizabeth Beaujour
Students in Comparative Literature come from over twenty-five countries and are native speakers of as many languages. They bring a range of cultural and intellectual interests and have given the program in Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center an international character second to none that mirrors New York City in all its depth and complexity. While the majority of students tend to emphasize modernism in their coursework and dissertations, a significant number pursue studies in other periods, especially in Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Romantic literatures, as well as in the literatures of the Americas.

In recent years our students have accepted teaching positions at Barnard, Williams, Yale, Hamilton, Mount Holyoke, Vanderbilt, Harvard, UCLA, Penn State, Rutgers, The University of Massachusetts, and at a number of CUNY colleges. They have also found positions in Italy, Germany, and Turkey.

Applicants should please bear in mind that while we have a posted deadline of January 1, our admissions committee reviews applications as they arrive. For priority consideration, we strongly encourage applicants to apply as early as possible.

Our Courses:

The M.A. and Ph.D. Program in Comparative Literature offers courses in Comparative Literature, as well as coordinated courses in English, American, French, German, Italian, Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures, Slavic, Ancient Greek, and Latin literatures.

Students at the Graduate Center are encouraged to tailor a course of study that reflects their own interests and orientation, while meeting the requirements for the terminal degree. By the completion of the degree, students will be able to read two modern languages with complete fluency and demonstrate competence in at least one national literature taught at the Graduate Center.

The Graduate Center also encourages its students to take advantage of the Greater New York inter-university doctoral consortium. Our partnership with other schools gives students the opportunity to register for courses at such institutions as Columbia University, Princeton University, New York University, Rutgers University, and the New School of New York.

View our courses.

Our Approach:

The Program is committed to train students in both literary history and literary theory, and students should master and practice a range of critical approaches, from the established to the very recent. Most of our doctoral faculty have joint appointments with other programs at the Graduate Center, and therefore seminars and tutorials cover a broad variety of subjects and methodologies. Students may study courses in a variety of disciplines, from the visual arts, music, theatre, and cinema to history, anthropology, and philosophy. Students are encouraged to pursue course work in these areas, as well as in the Graduate Center's Ph.D. programs in foreign languages and literatures.

Our Certificates:

Special certificate programs in combination with the Comparative Literature program are available in Critical TheoryMedieval Studies, Global Early Modern Studies, Women’s Studies, and Film Studies. The Program in Comparative Literature has just created a certificate program in Critical Theory.


As part of their professional training, students in our doctoral program are encouraged at some point after their first year to teach undergraduate courses at one of the many colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY) or at other New York institutions. As in most universities, this entails teaching a foreign language and courses in world literature; but unlike other graduate students, ours are, from very early on, encouraged to create and teach their own courses for undergraduates and develop their own syllabus.

The Broader Academic Community:

Our program offers small stipends for students to present at conferences around the country. Students are strongly encouraged to present their research from early on and to make connections in the broader academic community. Moreover, each year, the students in the program organize two conferences: one meets in November and is devoted to literature, the other meets in April and is focused on theory. Over the past years these conferences have been very successful and have attracted participants from around the world.

Students are also encouraged to publish both in scholarly journals and mainstream publications. Some of our most recent graduate students' publications are listed on the "On Book Reviewing" page and in the student bios.