Application & Admission

Our Comparative Literature and Translation Studies Program seeks highly qualified, research-oriented graduate students with a commitment to developing rigorous and innovative theoretical frameworks for the study of world literary cultures from all periods. We do not offer a terminal MA degree. Students are admitted into the MA/PhD or the MA program.

In addition to fulfilling all university requirements for admission to graduate status (see “Graduate Education at UCSB” in the general catalog), applicants to the MA/PhD program will usually have completed an undergraduate major in comparative literature or a closely related field. Applicants to the PhD program must have completed an MA in comparative literature or a closely related field. For the French and German specializations, applicants are expected to have completed Undergraduate or Masters degrees in French or German studies, or in closely-related fields. Please contact the program if you need more information on equivalences.

Please follow the directions below to apply to our doctoral program. You may also refer to the FAQ document in the download area below.

Application Deadline

Completed applications and all application materials must be received by December 15 for admission to the Fall quarter and for consideration of financial support in the form of fellowships and teaching assistantships.

Please also check the UCSB Graduate Division’s Graduate Admission Page for our doctoral program.

How to apply?

Your application will include a writing sample; a statement of purpose, and additional documents.

Writing sample: include a recent essay that presents evidence of your ability to engage in close literary interpretation and discussion of theory. You may choose to include a second sample written in one of the languages other than English in which you will conduct doctoral work.

Statement of purpose: this document is about 2 pages long and contains the following information:

  • Why do you want to study Comparative literature? What potential fields do you propose to study?
  • Describe a tentative research project leading to the PhD.
  • Explain why our program in Comparative Literature is a good fit for your doctoral goal.
  • Identify optional emphases, if applicable.
  • Indicate faculty who can support your research interests (please browse faculty websites, which will inform you about the range of expertise of our affiliated and/or cognate faculty members and their possible fit with your interests).
  • Discuss your career goals, both traditional-academic and alternative-academic.

Additional documents: evidence of strong language skills; letters of recommendation, etc.

Application Packets

Application packets for the doctoral program consist of the following:

  1. Copies of official or non-official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions uploaded in the online application. Note that, if admitted into our program, you will need to provide official transcripts to our Graduate Division. UCSB requires that international applicants upload both the original language transcripts and a certified English translation, as well as the degree certificate as one document. The translation must be done by the school or an official agency. 
  2. Three letters of recommendation. Please note that your recommenders need to submit their letters electronically. You will be prompted to enter information about your recommenders when you fill out the online application. Letters should be signed and printed on departmental/institutional letterhead. There is no exception to this rule.
  3. If the applicant is not from an English-speaking country, official TOEFL scores (sent electronically by ETS).
  4. A writing sample of no more than 25 pages in length. Writing samples can be papers written in an upper-division undergraduate or graduate course, or a portion of your Master’s thesis.
  5. Statement of purpose (see above).
  6. Personal achievements/contributions.
  7. Updated and detailed curriculum vitae.
  8. Demonstration of competence in a language other than English. Foreign language proficiency can be demonstrated by (a) submission of a writing sample in a language other than English, or (b) evidence that the applicant is a native speaker of that language.
  9. Supplemental foreign language form.

The program’s admission policy is based on intellectual potential and promise, strong academic records, and programmatic fit. For additional information on the full application process, please consult the dedicated page of the Graduate Division web site.

Applications can be completed at

For further information, please contact:
Graduate Program Assistant
Comparative Literature Program
4212 Phelps Hall
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4130

Phone: 805-893-2131

Frequently Asked Questions