Skip to Content

College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Graduate degree in Comparative Literature

Graduate Information 

The Graduate Program in Comparative Literature is designed to enable students to develop competence in the study of two or more literatures. Based in the College of Liberal Arts, the Program is staffed by an interdepartmental group of graduate professors from the Departments of English, and Languages, Literatures, & Cultures. Degrees offered are the M.A. and the Ph.D.

Graduate study in Comparative Literature should not be confused with the study of world literature in translation. Students are urged to read widely. Some reading in translation is necessary, but stress is placed on the reading of texts in the original. Instead of attempting to survey vast areas of literature, the student strives for excellence in his or her principal language(s), in methodology, and in selected areas of literature. The goal of the comparatist is multi-lingual study, with a high proficiency in at least one foreign language. Clearly, students who choose to major in Comparative Literature should have both an aptitude for languages and a deep interest in literary study.

It is the bilingual and cross-cultural stress, more than anything else, that distinguishes the Comparative Literature student from the English major. Hence, all students at the doctoral level are strongly encouraged to spend at least one semester in a country where their first foreign language is spoken. Study Abroad programs are available through the Languages Department whereby a student teaches for a year at a foreign university, for instance at the University of Bamberg or Mulhouse.

The University of South Carolina Program places special emphasis on the history of literary criticism and theory. The possibilities for productive scholarship in Comparative Literature are excellent. The Program is especially interested in helping students identify fields of specialization which they can pursue after the Ph.D.

The courses are taught by the Comparative Literature faculty.


M.A./Ph.D. Program

1. A candidate for an M.A. in any department can take no more than 12 hours beyond M.A. requirements towards the Ph.D. in CPLT without having completed the thesis. Any hours accumulated over the total of 12 will not count toward the Ph.D. Students completing an MA at USC who wish to enter the PhD program must complete the MA thesis before funding will be granted for the PhD program. Students admitted to the concurrent M.A./Ph.D. program must complete a Master's thesis during their fourth semester in the program.

2. CPLT graduate teaching assistants are to work no more than 15-20 hours per week and are governed by the following policies.

3. A student preparing for the Ph.D. comprehensive examination may make arrangements for a practice session for the oral examination with any of the members of his or her dissertation committee.

4. Ph.D. candidates who have received or are about to receive the M.A. from the Department of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures at USC are required to apply for admission using the electronic form.

5. CPLT graduate students undergo advisement like everyone else.

6. CPLT 700, 701, 702, and 703 will be offered every year.

7. Students who hold an assistantship from the University of South Carolina obligate themselves to proceed with their course work at all possible speed. The number of years a CPLT-Ph.D. candidate will be granted an assistantship is normally five years if the student begins with the B.A. in hand, and four years if the student begins with the M.A.

Guidelines for continued assignment of a Graduate Assistantship by the Program in Comparative Literature:

Passed by the Advisory Committee to the Program in Comparative Literature,1/18/01

Non-compliance does not necessarily entail revocation, but it is a distinct possibility.

-- Students may not earn less than a B in their undergraduate language classes.

-- Students may not carry more than two incompletes without a medical excuse.

-- Final exams and the opportunity for a retake are offered once a year during the Spring semester. Additional Information

-- GAs are offered to Master's candidates for two years and to PhD candidates for three. Thereafter, they are offered at the discretion of the department.

8. The Ph.D. qualifying examination is to be taken in January following the semester in which the student has completed the CPLT 701, 702, 703 sequence. Normally this is after the 3rd semester. If a repeat examination is necessary, it must be taken at the schedule date in April.

9. In order to insure uniformity and fairness, all comprehensive and candidacy examinations will henceforth be coordinated by the graduate advisor and graduate director. The director will collect questions from the committees, reserve a room, hand out questions, call time, and return the answers to the committee. The director will be informed of the results in writing, and the examination answers will be kept in the student's file in the director's office.

For additional information write: Graduate Advisor
Professor Yvonne Ivory
Program in Comparative Literature
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
Fax: (803) 777-0454