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  • Average length of program: 6–8 years
  • Average course load: 2–3 graduate
    seminars per semester
  • Total credits: 71

The Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature offers two PhD programs: comparative literature (CL) and comparative studies in discourse and society (CSDS). We do not admit students to a terminal master's degree.

We seek prospective students with solid preparation (BA and/or MA) in the humanities and/or interpretive social sciences, as well as in at least one language other than English. We also seek prospective students with a well-envisioned constellation of research questions and interests, intellectual curiosity, creativity, rigor, and commitment. 

Our programs offer a rigorous graduate education in theories, histories, technologies, and practices of word, image, and sound from the early modern period, variously defined, through the present. Our faculty are internationally recognized scholars at the cutting edge of their fields; their interests span multiple media—literature, film, music, television, and the digital—in deep theoretical, philosophical, historical, and transnational perspectives, traversing global norths and souths. We embrace and encourage work that crosses disciplines, media forms, languages, and nations or continents; work that takes the arts, humanities, and culture seriously in their own right yet; and work that rethinks these disciplines in their material, ideological, social, and political dimensions.

Our graduate students have won some of the most prestigious research fellowships in the country, as well as competitive college and university graduate fellowships and top university honors for their dissertations. They regularly present research at major conferences, publish research and creative work in significant venues, produce films, curate lecture and film series, and engage in labor, social justice, and political activism locally and beyond.

Some of our graduate research fellowships include:

  • American Council of Learned Societies
  • ​Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays programs
  • CIC-Smithsonian Institution
  • Social Science Research Council

Recent Comparative Literature and Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society PhD graduates have gone on to postdoctoral fellowships and tenure-track faculty positions at institutions such as:

  • American University
  • Brown University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Macalester College
  • Skidmore College
  • Stony Brook University
  • University of Minnesota–Duluth
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Washington
  • University of the Western Cape

Other graduates have pursued alternative careers within and beyond the academy, including nonprofit organizations in the arts and humanities.

PhD Programs

Our PhD programs will support your intellectual aspirations and guide you to success.

Graduate Minors

The Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature offers two departmental graduate minors: comparative literature (CL) and in comparative studies in discourse and society (CSDS). The department is also home to an interdepartmental freestanding graduate minor in moving image studies (MIMS).

CLA’s Graduate Programs Office offers graduate students access to funding resources, health and supportive services, diversity initiatives, and other valuable information.