Graduate Degree Requirements


The MA requires a minimum of 40 units of graduate-level course work in either (a) three national literatures, or, (b) two national literatures and one related discipline chosen in consultation with the graduate Advisor. The 40 units of graduate-level course work must include the 4 unit Proseminar in Comparative Literature, a minimum of 8 graduate units in each of two national literatures and 4 graduate units in the student’s third national literature or the related discipline. Eight additional graduate units must be taken in comparative literature. A maximum of 4 units of 596 course work can be counted toward the master’s degree.

By the end of the second year of study, students must pass the first qualifying field examination within a national literature, multinational region, or related discipline. The successful completion of this exam grants the MA degree.

Upon completion of the Master’s degree (the first Field Examination), an assessment of the student’s overall progress in graduate study will be conducted. The student should submit the following documentation as input to the review: completion of a self-assessment of completed work and plan for doctoral work, unofficial transcripts, first field examination with detailed feedback from examination committee, and updated CV. The student will receive a written evaluation of the faculty’s assessment of their development, their promise for independent, innovation and original research, and for completion of doctoral study.



The PhD degree in comparative literature requires the study of three fields consisting of national literatures, multinational and multilingual regional studies, or related disciplines. One of the field exams may be devoted to a study of an English-language corpus. The two other fields should be focused on non-English literary traditions, with the primary texts studied in the original language. The selection of fields should be approved by the Graduate Faculty Advisor/The Director of Graduate Studies.

Students entering the program with an MA in comparative literature or a closely related field need a minimum of 24 units of additional graduate-level course work to be distributed in consultation with the Faculty Graduate Advisor/Director of Graduate Studies.These 24 units must include 4 units in each of two national literatures, 4 units in the student's third national literature or related discipline, and 4 units in comparative literature. A limited number of course exemptions will, however, be allowed, as indicated in 2.6 of the Graduate Handbook, “Transfer of Credit.” Additional course work may be required to make up for deficiencies. Students must pass three field exams in three national literatures or two national literatures and a related field. The first field examination should be taken in the first quarter of their second year at UCSB in a national literature other than the literature of the student’s native language. In order to be advanced to candidacy students must also demonstrate competency in a second foreign language and present and defend a dissertation prospectus. After advancement to candidacy, they write and defend a dissertation. The university’s absolute time limit for passing the field exams and advancing to candidacy is 4 years.

Upon completion of the three field exams, students prepare and defend a dissertation prospectus with the guidance of their dissertation committee. Once they pass this examination and demonstrate proficiency in a second foreign language they are advanced to candidacy (ABD). The final requirement is the successful completion of a doctoral dissertation, including an oral defense.

For comprehensive information on the program, please refer to the Graduate Handbook:

Graduate Handbook