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Master of Arts Program in Comparative Literature


Comparative literature at New York University is designed to meet the needs of students who wish to study literature as an intercultural discipline embedded in wider sociocultural environments and in broader philosophical issues. The department offers students an opportunity to study literature extranationally, cross-culturally, and historically through movements, periods, genres, and interrelations, as well as through criticism and theory. Applications are only considered for fall admission, and demonstrated proficiency in two foreign languages is highly recommended. Terminal M.A. applications are accepted only in rare cases; no financial aid is given to such candidates.

The Master of Arts degree requires 32 points of coursework, of which 20 points are in Comparative Literature, and 12 points outside of the department (and relevant to the student’s research and teaching goals). Of these 32 points, the following courses must be taken: COLIT-GA 1400, Seminar in Literature: Research Methods and Techniques - Practice and Theory, (this course must be taken during the first semester of enrollment); a literary criticism/theory class before 1800; a contemporary (20th century) literary criticism/theory course; and a pre-1800 literature course. Students taking a degree in comparative literature follow a program of courses corresponding to their proposed professional interests. Flexibility of choice is provided by a broad spectrum of offerings available in neighboring departments. When arranging the course of study, the student consults with the chair of the department or the director of graduate studies, as well as an assigned faculty adviser. In order to qualify for the M. A., students must prove proficiency in two non-English languages. There are several ways to prove proficiency, including passing a translation exam, which NYU administers three times a year. Once a student has completed 32 points of course work and satisfied the language requirements, a qualifying paper must be submitted to and approved by a committee of two faculty members. The paper is meant to be one which you have already submitted for a seminar and to which you would like to return in order to polish the argument to a “publishable” standard.