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Top Colleges for Literary Studies: Program and School Information

Read about literary studies programs, which typically include the examination of literature from various time periods and cultures. Learn about three top colleges that offer degrees in literary studies, and find a list of other schools in the United States that offer programs in the same or similar fields of study.

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Literacy programs are available at many top colleges, including Duke University, Northwestern University, Rutgers University and Colorado College. Programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Comparative Literature
  • Language Translation
  • Linguistics

School Overviews

Degree programs in comparative literature can lead to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Master of Arts (M.A.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Qualified graduates may pursue careers in teaching, journalism, advertising or public relations. The four universities discussed below have received past high rankings from Forbes or U.S. News and World report. Program offerings range from a minor in literature to a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature Studies.

Duke University in Durham, North Carolina

School Highlight: Duke students can pursue a Global Cultural Studies major, emphasizing the study of literature from all over the world.

Duke University ranked eighth on U.S. News and World Report's list of best universities for 2017. Duke offers a major and minor in literature. Undergraduate students take courses in critical theory, film history, literary studies and visual theory. Duke offers a Ph.D. program for students who want to teach in literature and interdisciplinary departments. In addition, Duke's Center for Philosophy, Arts and Literature offers a graduate certificate for Ph.D. students

Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

School Highlight: Outstanding undergraduate students may have the option of pursuing a combined B.A./M.A. degree.

Northwestern University is a private university that U.S. News and World Report ranked 12th on its 2017 list of America's top universities. The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences offers a B.A. in Comparative Literary Studies and an accelerated B.A./M.A. in Comparative Literature Studies program. A Ph.D. in Comparative Literary Studies program is also available. Graduate literary studies students can participate in the Interdisciplinary Cluster Initiative program. Courses are offered in media studies, philosophy and literature in translation.

Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey

School Highlight: Rutgers graduate students in literature may join the publication staff of Exit 9, a nationally-renowned graduate literary journal.

Rutgers University, a State University of New Jersey, ranked 70th on U.S. News and World Report's list of national universities in 2017. Program offerings emphasize the arts and sciences and include a B.A. in Comparative Literature. Courses are offered in world literature, women's literature and literature in film. Rutgers offers an M.A. and Ph.D. in Literary Studies, in which students explore poetry, film and contemporary literature.

Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO

School Highlight:Classes are offered on a 'block plan', which allows students to take three-and-a-half week courses, one at a time.

Colorado College was ranked second on U.S. News and World Report's list of most innovative schools for 2017. The school offers a comparative literature bachelor's degree program. A literature and other disciplines track is available. Students must complete a creative writing or translation project as a thesis.

Top Literary Studies Programs

Other top schools with literary studies programs include:

  • Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, has a School of Criticism and Theory summer institute.
  • DePaul University in Chicago, IL, has Threshold, a literary journal published by students.
  • Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA, publishes Five Points literary magazine.
  • At Loyola University in Baltimore, MD, modern languages and literature students may study abroad in China, Spain and Italy, among other countries.
  • At Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, MO, undergraduate students take internships that emphasize writing and research skills in an office environment
  • Williams College in Williamstown, MA, has the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Literary studies students who are looking for a program at one of the highest rated colleges in the country have many options to consider, including internship and study abroad opportunities.

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