The master of arts degree programs introduce students to the comparative study of literature, to interdisciplinary studies involving literature, and to the theory and practice of literary translation. Essential to the programs is the acquisition of the critical tools required by comparative literary studies, as well as the development of the ability to do graduate work in at least two literatures. To be admitted to the programs, students must have a BA (or equivalent) and show potential for graduate work. The department offers 2 tracks for the Masters: Plan A is a more traditional program, while Plan B is a vocationally oriented translation studies degree, which must be pursued in conjunction with a graduate certificate in translation. (Students also have the option of combining a graduate certificate of translation with the MA-Plan A. ) The completion of the MA normally takes three semesters of coursework.

Course Requirements

Plan A: ordinarily distributed as follows:

Courses Credits
COLI 592. Proseminar 4
First literature 12 to 16
Second literature or minor 8 to 12
Electives 0 to 8
Total 32


Plan B: Translation studies

Courses Credits
COLI 592. Proseminar 4
COLI 572 and 573 8
COLI 580. Topics in Translation Theory 4
Linguistics, language theory or history as suited to individual program needs 8
Literature in source languages (two courses) 8
Total 32


Normally, MA candidates are expected to use two foreign languages in the course of their studies, as well as to show an adequate command of English. By the time the student takes the MA examination, he or she must have met the language requirement in at least one idiom.

Teaching Requirement

Graduate students in comparative literature, including MA students, are expected, in accordance with state regulations, to acquire competence as teachers. This requirement is normally fulfilled by teaching an undergraduate comparative literature course or a series of such courses.


The take-home written examination for the MA consists of four sections (Literature I and II, Theory, and Literary Specialization) and is taken by all candidates following Plan A. (Reading lists for these examinations are available to students at the departmental office.) Students following Plan B, translation studies, take one of the following sections from the Plan A MA examination: Literature I, Literature II or Theory. MA Plan B students must also successfully complete a graduate certificate in translation. (For information on the graduate certificate in translation, see: Students wishing to qualify for study toward the doctorate must achieve a grade of B+ or better on all sections of the examination. A grade of B or better on each section constitutes a passing grade. These examinations are given in November, and, when necessary, also in April; they may be repeated once. Students may petition to take the MA examination in April of the academic year in which they have entered the program.

Last Updated: 8/1/16