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Indiana University Bloomington

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Master Programs


Course Requirements

  1. A minimum of 30 credit hours 20 credit hours of which must be in Comparative Literature, including C501  (Introduction to Contemporary Literary Studies), C502 (Fields and Methods of Comparative Literature), and two literature survey courses offered by the Department, one dealing with the pre-modern period and one dealing with the modern period. The first survey course requirement should normally be met by taking C505, C521, C523, or C525; the second survey course requirement should normally be met by taking C506, C529, C533, C535, C537 or C538. The remaining 10 credit hours required for the M.A. may come from courses in CMLT or other departments related to the student’s studies in literature. Students must take all required courses during their first four semesters of study in the Comparative Literature Department. A student majoring in Comparative Literature who receives a grade of C+ or lower in any of these courses must repeat the course (under the same or a different instructor).
  2. In addition, M.A. students must complete a proseminar chosen from among graduate courses in Comparative Literature that are not being used to fulfill other requirements. With the consent of the instructor, any graduate course in Comparative Literature may meet this requirement, except C501, C502 and C507. The requirement is met by taking a graduate course in which the student has the opportunity to:
    1. write a research paper that develops an original thesis or idea;
    2. orally defend a preliminary version of the paper;
    3. and, in the light of the questions raised at the oral discussion, submit to the instructor a revised version of the paper with the critical and scholarly apparatus appropriate to a publishable article.

The requirement does not stipulate that the paper be read or otherwise presented in class, only that it be defended in class. A student need not take a course conducted entirely as a proseminar, but may, with the permission of the instructor, carry out the required activities in a course which other students are not taking as a proseminar. Forms to certify completion of a proseminar are available from the Graduate Studies Office.

A student should take no more than 35 hours of graduate course work (excluding C805 credit) without first completing the M.A. degree: if a student exceeds these credit hours before being admitted to the Ph.D. program, the Department will determine which credit hours beyond 35 (if any) will count toward the Ph.D. degree requirements. Although the Graduate School sets a limit of five years on completion of all M.A. degree requirements, the Department expects students to complete the M.A. requirements within two years.

Upon completion of the Master’s Degree requirements, students will have to petition to enter the Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature. Students must submit a brief letter of application indicating their prospective program of study, along with a letter from their mentor or prospective research advisor supporting their admission. (Please contact the Graduate Studies Office for further details). Admission to the Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature is by no means automatic, internal applications are evaluated on the same basis as external applications.

Language Requirements

The Department’s foreign language requirements reflect the need for graduate students to achieve a level of reading knowledge suitable for literary analysis. Students entering the MA, MA/MLIS, and MAT programs are normally expected to have reading proficiency in at least one foreign language. (Proficiency implies the ability to read sophisticated literary texts with no assistance other than a dictionary). Students entering the doctoral program are normally expected to have reading proficiency in at least two foreign languages. Students in the MA and MA/MLIS programs will ultimately need to certify reading proficiency in two foreign languages in order to complete the requirements for their degrees. Students in the doctoral program will need to certify reading proficiency in three foreign languages in order to be eligible for the Ph.D. qualifying examinations.

Reading proficiency in a foreign language may be certified in the following ways:

  1. For students entering the graduate program in Fall 2008 or later, by receiving a grade of B or higher in a graduate-level literature course in which the assigned readings are in the foreign language. A course will be considered “graduate-level” if it is listed in the current issue of the Graduate School Bulletin. Students who entered the program before Fall 2008 will still have the option of passing, with a grade of B or higher, an undergraduate literature course at the 300 or 400 level in which the assigned readings are in the foreign language, although the more rigorous option in strongly recommended. In either case, the student must obtain the instructor’s signature on the certification form available from the Graduate Studies Office. (Please note that successful completion of the 491/492 course sequence in a foreign language will not be accepted as certification of reading proficiency.
  2. In exceptional cases, students may fulfill the language requirement by passing an examination in the translation of literary texts in the foreign language, administered by the Comparative Literature Department in consultation with faculty in other departments. This option will only be approved in exceptional cases. Prior to submitting a formal request for this examination, students must receive the approval of the Chair of the Translation Studies Committee, who will determine whether they are eligible to take the exam, based on their preparation in the language. Students taking the exam should normally have native or near-native command of the language and extensive previous study of the literature in that language. (Completing the 491/492 sequence in German, French, or other languages will NOT adequately prepare students for this exam.) One date will be scheduled for language exams each semester. (Foreign language exams offered by other departments will not be accepted as certification of reading proficiency for students admitted after Fall 2001.) See the detailed guidelines below.
  3. Students whose native language is not English may request certification of English as one of their foreign languages. Prior to registration for classes, all new students at IU-B whose native language is not English are required to take an English Language Proficiency Test administered by the Indiana University Center for English Language Training (CELT) in Memorial Hall, Room 319. When students have passed this proficiency test, they may request permission to designate English as a foreign language by obtaining a form from the Comparative Literature Graduate Studies Office to complete and sign. This form will then go to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate School Dean for their approval.
  4. Upon approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, doctoral students may be allowed to substitute intensive preparation (at least 27 credit hours) in a non-literary discipline for the third foreign language requirement. This substitution would need the support of the student’s advisory committee, and the request would need to include a detailed explanation of the importance of the non-literary discipline to the student’s research interests. (Students should bear in mind that a “non-literary discipline” is not the same thing as a “minor field.” In the latter case, the department certifying the Ph.D. Minor sets the requirements and determines which courses may be used to fulfill them, whereas in the case of the  “non-literary discipline,” it is the Director of Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature, in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee and faculty expertise in the field, who oversees the calculation of credit hours. Thus, for example, a film course taken in a foreign language department might count toward certification of intensive preparation in film studies but not toward a Minor in the Department of Communication and Culture, whereas a CMCL course that counted toward the Minor might not count toward certifying preparation in film.

The Department does not specify which foreign languages students should choose to fulfill their degree requirements; but it recognizes that language proficiency is essential to scholarly work in Comparative Literature. Students should capitalize on previous training to expedite progress toward their degrees, but they should also consider which languages are most apt to be important for the research areas they intend to pursue, not only in the master’s project, where they will be expected to quote literary texts in the original language, but also in doctoral study. Students should consult with their mentors and other faculty members early in their graduate career, in order to make an informed choice about which languages to pursue.



The interdisciplinary nature of graduate studies in Comparative Literature, including the demonstration of proficiency in foreign languages, provides students interested in pursuing a career in librarianship with a strong background. Students with dual master’s degrees in Comparative Literature and Library Science will be competitive for positions in academic libraries and for certain positions in public libraries. Language skills and a strong liberal arts background are two qualifications sought after by academic libraries.

The joint degree consists of a total of at least 50 credit hours--a minimum of thirty credit hours in Library and Information Science and a minimum of 20 credit hours in Comparative Literature. The student must be admitted by the Department and by both the Graduate School and the School of Library and Information Science.

Library Science Requirements:

  1. Completion of SLIS courses from the common core (15 credit hours).
  2. At least 15 credit hours of SLIS elective courses appropriate to the student’s background and interests, chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

Comparative Literature Requirements:

At least 20 credit hours of course work in Comparative Literature, including C501, and one course on European literature in the pre-modern period (C505, C521, C523, or C525, a course taken as a Proseminar, and completion of a Master’s Project. Emphasis in course work may be on Western literatures, cross-cultural literary relations, or studies in literature and the arts (music, film, and the visual arts). Certification of reading proficiency in two foreign languages is required, but no credit for courses in foreign language study will count toward the required 20 hours. The dual degree must be completed within six years from the semester in which the student first enrolled in courses counting toward a dual degree. The student must complete the work in SLIS and the Department of Comparative Literature at the same time (i.e., not receive the degree in one before the other). A dual Master’s Degree student will have a file and an advisor in both departments. The student may apply for financial support from either department, or from both. Both departments must certify completion of the degree requirements.



Secondary school teachers or prospective teachers interested in qualifying to teach world literature or interdisciplinary humanities courses can obtain an M.A.T. degree in Comparative Literature by satisfying the following requirements:


  1. Certification of reading proficiency in at least one foreign language;
  2. B.A. degree in Comparative Literature or an individual literature (e.g., English, French, Spanish, etc.)

Course Requirements:

A total of 36 hours of course work with a minimum of 20 hours in Comparative Literature including C305 or C501. (Of these no more than six hours may be in approved courses on the 300 or 400 level that do not normally carry graduate credit.)

Emphasis in course work may be on any area of literary study including, cross-cultural literary relations, or literature and the arts (music, film, and the visual arts.)

M.A.T. candidates are encouraged to include in their course load some teaching-oriented courses offered by other graduate programs or the School of Education, as well as Comparative Literature C507 and C509. The choice of courses should be planned carefully in consultation with the departmental Graduate Advisor and the advising staff of the School of Education.

M.A.T. Examination:

When other requirements are completed, the M.A.T. candidate takes a 90-minute written exam comparing two texts, based on an individual reading list. One text may be a work of art in a non-literary medium. If two literary texts are compared, one must be in a foreign language. The student must choose two readers for his or her examination. The student must consult with the Director of Graduate Studies for approval of the readers and reading list.