Application Checklist

International students:
See additional information for international students.

Applications for admission to the PhD programs in Comparative Literature (CL) and in Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society (CSDS) are processed through the University of Minnesota's online application system. Admission is granted by the programs in either CL or CSDS.

Application Materials and Process

The materials you submit when you apply to graduate school begin a conversation between you and the faculty and community you wish to join. In that conversation, you show us how you work with ideas, frame them, and relate them to recognizable strains of thought in various disciplines.

You should show us why the particular sites, texts, data, archives, and so on you intend to engage in your graduate work interest you. You should explain why the University of Minnesota's program is a good choice for you. You should offer us samples of your writing and solicit support from people with whom you've worked and who know you well. You must also reveal some of your personal story, showing us what led you to the concerns and interests you bring to your work. Every case is different. But in general, you're demonstrating the significance of the work you do and propose, and a good fit between you, your work, the intellectual and practical life you've led, and the sort of work we do here.

What to Submit

Application for Admission

All applications must be submitted online. Where applicable, please enter your self-reported GRE, TOEFL, or IELTS scores. Please submit official scores as described below;

  • GRE Scores
    Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores can be submitted but are not required as part of the application process. Official GRE scores, no more than 5 years old, must be submitted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) directly to the University of Minnesota using code 6874; doing so will ensure that official scores are routed to us with your application. Leave the department code blank. Please do not send paper copies (official score reports or photocopies) directly to the department.
  • TOEFL / IELTS Scores
    For applicants whose native language is not English, we require official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Scores must be submitted directly by TOEFL or IELTS. The University of Minnesota's institutional code for reporting TOEFL scores is 6874. No institutional code is required for IELTS. For detailed instructions on submission of official scores and on requests for exemption, please see the University of Minnesota's Office of Graduate Admissions page on English Language Proficiency Information.

Documents to Upload

  • A Statement of Background and Purpose
    About 1-4 pages (single-spaced) addressing both your scholarly and personal experience and proposed course of study.
  • A Statement of Language Skills and Experience
    While not every applicant enters graduate work with significant language skills, most do. Language ability is more critical, of course, for Comparative Literature study, but significant in general. Outline your language and cultural experience in a statement of one page.
  • A Writing Sample
    One or more papers that best represent your interests or work, totaling no more than 20 to 30 pages. If you submit a longer sample, please identify the specific 20 to 30 pages you wish the Graduate Admissions Committee to read and provide a brief introductory paragraph explaining what each part represents. Applicants who wish to submit a writing sample in a language other than English should contact for information on accepted languages (usually those that at least one member of our faculty can read fluently in the original).
  • Transcripts from all previous colleges attended
    Unofficial transcripts are accepted. Should you be offered admission, Graduate Admissions will then solicit official transcripts.
  • Personal Statement (recommended, but not required; 500 words)
    Write a personal statement describing how your personal background or life experience motivates your academic goals. Please note that discussing your background can include a discussion of your race/ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, along with any other factors you would like to discuss, including but not limited to cultural, geographic, financial, or intellectual opportunities and challenges.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation from people who know your work and can write in detail about you, what you've done, and what you propose to study. Letters should be submitted directly online by the letter writer. List your references in the application and provide an e-mail address where each can be contacted. They will receive instructions on how to submit their letters.

Please contact us at with questions. Additional application instructions are available through the Graduate School.