PhD Program in Comparative Literature: Degree Overview

Oct 29, 2019

Individuals interested in language, culture, linguistics, history and art can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Comparative Literature. Programs typically include the study of language development, literary traditions/expression, and life perspectives.

Essential Information

A Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature program explores an individual's interest in literature, history, culture and art. Students usually study literary theory while learning to research and critique various forms of literature. Some potential comparative literature program fields include comparative literature, English/American literature, classics studies, and linguistics. Applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree, (some programs require a master's degree), a writing sample and minimum GPA. Students usually have to master at least three languages, one of which can be their native language. Other requirements include professional development, teaching courses/seminars to undergraduates, and a dissertation. Programs generally last five to seven years.

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature

Comparative literature programs focus their curricula around creativity and analytical coursework, integrating culture, languages/language development, literary traditions, life perspectives, history and literary expression. Typically expected to learn a minimum of three languages, individuals are tested on their knowledge and skill of each language through an oral examination. Individuals will also select an area of focus related to comparative literature. Students may be expected to take advanced courses and seminars in areas including:

  • Written culture
  • Tragedy
  • European literature
  • African literature
  • Ancient literature
  • Research methods

Employment Outlook

Earning a Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature opens up career opportunities in many fields, including education, anthropology/archeology, publishing, writing and law. Individuals may find jobs as

  • Literature professors
  • Curriculum developers
  • Editors
  • Librarians
  • Book reviewers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), librarians made an average annual salary of $61,530 in 2018. During the same year, editors made an average annual salary of $69,480, and literature professors earned $78,150.

A Ph.D. in comparative literature is ideal for students with either a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field, who are interested in pursuing literature and literary studies as a career. These programs will allow students to perform intensive research in specific literary subjects and genres they are interested in.

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