There are three programs of study depending on whether students enter the Program with an MA in Comparative Literature from the Program, with an MA (or its equivalent) from another department or university, or directly from the BA.
Courses jointly listed by Comparative Literature and another department may be counted toward the Comparative Literature, the national literature, or the elective requirement (though never toward more than one).
By the end of the first semester of study students should, after consulting with the Program Director, decide upon their primary and secondary literatures. A student who wishes to change his or her literatures after the initial declaration may do so only with the written permission of the Program Director.
PhD students who wish to study an adjunct field will be allowed to petition to extend their studies with up to two semesters of extra coursework. Students are reminded that funding may not be provided beyond the fourth year of the PhD.
Students are responsible for knowing the Graduate School rules, which contain information about full-time status, time limits for completion, etc.
The Coursework Planning Worksheet, approved by the advisor, must be turned in to the Graduate Program Assistant each semester by the last day of classes. The Coursework Planning Worksheet submitted should reflect all courses taken as well as the courses that are planned for the upcoming semester.
MA in Comparative Literature from CU-Boulder (4 year program)
PhD Coursework Planning Worksheet - Program A (a visual representation of course requirements)
Students who obtained their MA in Comparative Literature from the Program are required to complete 18 credits of coursework and 30 dissertation credits. The coursework for this program is completed as follows:
- 2 courses (6 credits) in Comparative Literature
- 2 courses (6 credits) in the primary literature
- 2 courses (6 credits) as electives
Electives: these may be taken in Comparative Literature, a primary or secondary literature or in another area related to the student’s program of study. These elective courses should have relevance to and contribute to the focus of a student’s program of study within Comparative Literature. They should be chosen in consultation with and with the approval of the student’s advisor.
Students entering the doctoral program with an MA in Comparative Literature from the Program are expected to complete all coursework by the end of their second semester of study.
MA from another department or university (5 year program)
PhD Coursework Planning Worksheet - Program B (a visual representation of course requirements)
Students admitted with an MA from another CU-Boulder department or another university are required to complete 36 credits of coursework and 30 dissertation credits. The coursework for this program is completed as follows:
- 6 courses (18 credits) in Comparative Literature. This includes COML 5000 (Proseminar), and COML 5610 (Introduction to Literary Theory). Where a course similar to the Introduction to Literary Theory has been completed, the student may substitute, with the approval of the Program Director, another Comparative Literature course.
- 4 courses (12 credits) in the primary national literature
- 2 courses (6 credits). If the student’s MA is in Comparative Literature these courses may be taken as electives. If the student’s MA is in a single national literature, these courses must be taken in the student’s second national literature (n.b., if there is evidence of graduate level work equivalent to two courses of study in a second national literature, students may choose between two elective courses or further study in their first or second literature).
Electives: see paragraph on electives in preceding section, MA in Comparative Literature from CU-Boulder.
Students entering the doctoral program with an MA from another CU-Boulder department or another university are expected to complete all coursework by the end of their second year of study.
Students entering with the BA (6 year program)
PhD Coursework Planning Worksheet - Program C (a visual representation of course requirements)
Students admitted directly to doctoral study from the BA are required to complete 48 credits of coursework and 30 dissertation credits. Students following this program of study should also read carefully the document describing the review of progress and award of en-route MA. The coursework for this program is completed as follows:
- Required Courses
COML 5000: Proseminar in Comparative Literature 3 credit hours
COML 5610: Introduction to Literary Theory 3 credit hours
- Comparative Literature Courses
5 Courses 15 credit hours
- Primary Literature
5 courses 15 credit hours
- Secondary Literature
2 courses 6 credit hours
2 courses 6 credit hours
Total 48 credit hours
Students in this program are expected to complete all coursework by the end of their third year of study. This program also provides the option of taking 6 MA thesis credits in the fourth semester so that students may prepare the research paper for the award of an en route or terminal MA.
Doctoral students may use Independent Study to satisfy up to 6 credits of course requirements. To request independent study, students complete the Independent Study Agreement. This application must be accompanied by a formal proposal describing the course of independent study. The proposal for independent study must address the following:
- A full description of the topic to be covered in the independent study
- The academic reasons justifying why the subject must be pursued in a course of independent study
- The specific expectations of the course of study
- The structure of the independent study (including assignments, meetings, work to be covered, timetable, etc.)
- The type of outcome that is expected (research paper, research paper plus presentation, etc.)
- A preliminary bibliography
- The number of semester hours for which credit is sought (maximum 3)
Once the supervising faculty member has agreed to the proposal and signed the application form, they are submitted to the Graduate Program Assistant who forwards them to the Program Director for approval. Once all approvals are secured, the Graduate Program Assistant will register the student for independent study under the supervising faculty member.
Students whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 at any time may be placed on academic probation or dismissed from the Program. In addition, any course in which a grade less than B is received will not count toward the number of courses required for the degree and must be replaced by another course.
On occasion, students will find it necessary to request an incomplete. Incompletes are intended to allow graduate students who have teaching appointments to balance their responsibilities to their students with their own academic coursework. Generally, incomplete coursework for graduate seminars should be finished by the end of the break between semesters. Students should recognize that incompletes, when not taken care of, can quickly have a harmful effect on their progress by causing them to fall further behind in subsequent semesters. When incompletes are the result of academic difficulties or other extenuating circumstances affecting academic performance, students should meet as soon as possible with the Program Director so that constructive solutions to these difficulties can be worked out.
To maintain satisfactory progress, all students must meet the following requirements concerning incompletes:
- Students may have no more than one incomplete at any time
- Incompletes must be completed no later than the end of the semester following the semester in which the incomplete was taken
Failure to meet these conditions will automatically render a student ineligible for a teaching appointment or fellowship support. Students should be aware that support decisions are usually made in mid-February.
Students must have no incompletes on their record in order to take their comprehensive exams.
Candidates for the PhD must demonstrate an advanced knowledge of two foreign languages and an intermediate knowledge of a third foreign language. Students may be required to master other languages depending on their field of study, as required by their advisor. It is advisable for students to research the requirements of the language departments where they intend to take courses – some are very strict about allowing entry to their upper division courses.
CHOICE OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES
- Literatures and cultures of the first and second languages studied must have graduate coursework available at CU.
- The third language must be chosen according to the existence of a body of critical literature that the advisor recognizes as relevant to the student’s main field of study.
- The third language must have coursework at CU available through the third year.
- If coursework is not available at the graduate level, there must be a faculty member at CU competent to test students in that language and oversee their literary studies.
- Classical languages (such as Latin, ancient Greek, classical Chinese, classical Japanese, biblical Hebrew) count as foreign languages.
- A student’s advisor can, in certain cases (e.g. native speaker of a language other than English), craft exceptions to the foregoing requirements.
Competence in the student’s first and second foreign languages must be demonstrated by graduate coursework (5000 level and above) in a seminar offered by the relevant department.
Competence in the student’s third foreign language may be demonstrated by one of two methods:
- By a written examination set by a faculty member. The examining member will consult the student’s advisor to determine appropriate material for the examination.
- By receiving a grade of B or better in coursework at or above the 3000 level offered by the corresponding department.
FINISHING THE LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT
For the first and second languages, training must be completed according to the following timelines:
Program A: by the end of the first year in the program
Program B: by the end of the second year in the program
Program C: by the end of the third year in the program
All PhD students will complete training in their third language the semester before taking the comprehensive exam.
The Program Director will serve as advisor to students in their first semester in the Program. By the end of the first semester of study students should, after consultation with the Program Director, declare their primary and secondary literatures and their foreign languages.
In consultation with the Program Director, PhD students are required to choose a faculty advisor from the Comparative Literature Graduate Program Faculty by the end of their first semester in the program. If a student wishes to work with a faculty member who is not a member or affiliate member of Comparative Literature Graduate Program Faculty, that non-CLGP faculty member must request CLGP membership in writing (accompanied by a CV) from the Director and CLGP Faculty. Students should meet with their advisor a minimum of one time each semester. Initially the advisor should be someone who works in a field of interest, and who can guide the student in choosing his or her courses. As the student’s interests become specific it is natural that the faculty advisor may change. The initial advisor may or may not be the same person chosen as advisor for the comprehensive exam and/or dissertation.
Courses for the upcoming semester are announced by October 1 and March 1 every year. Each student should meet with his or her advisor during the months of March and October to decide a class schedule for the next semester. The Coursework Planning Worksheet, approved by the advisor, must be turned in to the Graduate Program Assistant each semester by the last day of classes. The Coursework Planning Worksheet submitted should reflect all courses taken as well as the courses that are planned for the upcoming semester.
The comprehensive examination is taken during the second semester following the completion of coursework (see the Progress toward the Degree section for the precise semester). The examination covers three areas: one based on a national literature and two on comparative topics.
Comprehensive Exam Committee
The comprehensive examination committee is composed of five graduate faculty members. This committee should include the student’s advisor (who chairs the committee) as well as faculty whose specialties are reflected in the areas to be examined. The committee should be formed in consultation with the student’s advisor and the Program Director. The majority of the committee must be members of the Comparative Literature faculty. By the end of the fifth week of the semester following the completion of coursework the Committee Declaration Form must be submitted to the Graduate Program Assistant, who forwards it to the Program Director for approval.
Three areas of study are covered by the Comprehensive Exam:
1) A Primary Literature
The first area provides a well grounded knowledge of a single national literature. The reading list should cover two centuries and should include the major literary works of these centuries.
The second area focuses on the comparative study of either a genre (for example, the novel, lyric poetry, drama, etc.), or a period or movement (Classical, Early Modern, Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Modernism, Imagism, Surrealism, Postmodern, etc.). The reading list for this area draws on literature from all of the student’s major languages.
3) Special Topic/Problematic
The third area focuses on a specific problematic or topic in which a student has a particular interest. The reading list for this area draws on works from all of the student’s major languages and should incorporate major works of criticism and theory relevant to the chosen topic. Theoretical as well as critical-historical questions can be studied in this area.
Students prepare a reading list of no less than 30 works for each area of the exam. These lists should be approved by the student’s committee and submitted to the Graduate Program Assistant no later than the 10th week of the semester following the completion of coursework. The lists for the second and third areas should be divided equally between the student’s major languages.
Reading lists should provide a full reference for the edition of each work on the list. Sample reading lists are available for students to review in the office of the Graduate Program Assistant.
The Comprehensive Examination
The comprehensive examination consists of two parts: a written exam and an oral exam. The written exam must be completed by the end of the tenth week of the semester in which the comprehensive exam is taken. The oral exam must take place within three weeks of the completion of the written exam (by the end of the 13th week of the semester). The student must set a date for the oral exam by the 5th week of the semester in which it is to occur and must inform the Graduate Program Assistant of the exam date. Exams are normally held in the Program’s conference room, which can be scheduled by contacting the Graduate Program Assistant.
Part I: Written Exam
The first part of the comprehensive exam is a take-home written exam on the student’s primary literature. The chair of the student’s committee, in consultation with committee faculty specializing in the primary literature, will prepare a question for the student to respond to in an essay of no more than 20-25 pages (excluding bibliography). The chair of the committee will submit the question to the Graduate Program Assistant one week prior to the beginning of written exam period. The student will have two weeks to complete this exam. The written exam is not a research paper requiring library or other resources. Students are expected to respond directly to the question while demonstrating their knowledge of a primary literature. It is the responsibility of the student to deliver the completed exam to his or her committee members by whatever means is requested. A copy must be emailed to the Graduate Program Assistant. Sample questions are available for students to review in the office of the Graduate Program Assistant.
Part II: Oral Exam
The oral exam covers the written exam as well as the reading lists prepared for the second and third areas of the comprehensive examination. The oral exam lasts for two and half hours. Assuming the student’s satisfactory performance on the written exam pertaining to his/her primary literature, the oral exam will normally focus more heavily on questions relevant to the reading lists for the second and third areas of study. Students will be expected to demonstrate their command of the works on the reading lists as well as demonstrate a strong critical and comparative grasp of how these works are interrelated.
If the committee judges any part of the exam to be unsatisfactory, it may be retaken once. In this case, the exam must be successfully completed by the fifth week of the semester following the one in which it is first taken. The student may also be given a conditional pass, dependent upon completion of a task set by the committee (i.e. write and defend an essay, take a class). The committee determines the deadline for this task. If either of these situations occurs at the end of the spring semester, the student retakes the exam or completes the task at the beginning of the following fall semester. Students who do not pass the exam a second time will be dismissed from the program.
Award of Distinction
In the case that the oral and written portions of the exam are judged truly exceptional the committee may award “Distinction” to the student.
Written Exam Instructions
- Quotation is acceptable in translation except when the important points or issues raised require knowledge of the original language.
- Candidates may use their own translations but must clearly signal where this is the case, i.e., “(translation mine).”
- A copy of the reading list for the primary literature providing a full reference for the edition of each work on the list should be attached to the exam.
- A bibliography should be supplied when there is reference to any works or critical matter not already on the reading lists.
Registration during preparation for the Comprehensive Exam
During the two semester period following coursework, students will register for 5 dissertation credit hours per semester (COML 8990). Up to 10 dissertation credit hours taken prior to the comprehensive examination may count towards the 30 dissertation credits required for the PhD. Students with questions should consult with the Graduate Program Assistant to determine how many hours they should take. The Doctoral Dissertation Hours Tracking Form should be used to keep track of dissertation hours. Dissertation hours are not graded until the dissertation defense and will show on the transcript as “IP” until graduation.
Students must make a formal application for admission to candidacy for the PhD degree on forms supplied by the Graduate Program Assistant at least four weeks before the comprehensive exam is taken. Please note that students must fulfill the language requirement, coursework requirement and must pass the comprehensive exam before they can be admitted to candidacy for the degree.
Exam Scheduling Checklist
First semester after coursework:
By week 5: Form committee and submit Committee Declaration Form with signatures
By week 10: Reading Lists approved by exam committee; submit approved lists to the Graduate Program Assistant
Second semester after coursework:
By week 5: Schedule written and oral exams
By week 9: Submit Candidacy Application to the Graduate Program Assistant
By week 10: Complete written exam
By week 13: Complete oral and comprehensive exam
After successful completion of the comprehensive examination, each student forms a dissertation committee and prepares a dissertation prospectus. It is permissible for the dissertation advisor to be different from the comprehensive examination adivsor. The committee is formed in consultation with the Program Director and the dissertation advisor. The committee is comprised of the dissertation advisor and four other graduate faculty members. The majority of the committee must be members of the Comparative Literature faculty. With permission of the Program Director, a faculty member from another university who has special expertise in the student’s dissertation topic may also be a member of the committee. Permission to include such a member must also be obtained by petitioning the Graduate School (see the Graduate Program Assistant for assistance). Once finalized, the names of the dissertation committee’s members are submitted for approval to the Program Director. Students should use the Committee Declaration Form for this purpose. This form must be completed and submitted to the Graduate Program Assistant no later than the end of the fifth week of the semester following the successful completion of the comprehensive examination.
Prospectus and Prospectus Defense
By the end of the first semester following the successful completion of the comprehensive examination the dissertation prospectus must be written and defended. The prospectus outlines a program of original research conducted in a comparative manner and should be approximately 20 pages. It should answer the following questions:
- In what ways is the research original?
- How is the subject of this research to be developed?
- What works will be examined and why?
- In what ways is the dissertation comparative?
- How is the dissertation to be structured?
- What methodology or interpretive approach will be used?
The prospectus must also present a bibliography of relevant primary and secondary literature (both literary and critical) as well as the timeline according to which each of the chapters is expected to be completed.
Once written, the completed prospectus should be submitted to each member of the dissertation committee. An oral defense of the prospectus will then take place, normally within a month of submission. It is the responsibility of the student to schedule the prospectus defense. The prospectus defense is normally held in the Program’s conference room, which can be scheduled by contacting the Graduate Program Assistant. The prospectus defense does not involve the Graduate School. It is a Program requirement designed to gather the dissertation committee together for the purpose of critiquing the prospectus. A copy of the approved prospectus must also be filed with the Graduate Program Assistant.
Dissertation and Oral Defense
Upon approval of the prospectus by the dissertation committee, the student proceeds to write the dissertation. Once completed, copies of the completed dissertation are submitted to each member of the student’s committee, and a sixth copy is filed with the Graduate Program Assistant. An oral defense of the dissertation must take place within one month after submission. Graduate School rules require that at least three members of the committee must be physically present at the defense and all must participate. Students should also note that the oral defense cannot be scheduled unless all requirements for the degree have been completed. Again, students are responsible for scheduling the time and place of the defense, which is normally held in the Program’s conference room (scheduled by the Graduate Program Assistant). The defense is a public event which other members of the university as well as members of the public may attend. Its time and place must be finalized at least four weeks before it takes place so that it may be announced with adequate notice. Students must consult the Graduate School’s online Graduation Packet for the defense date deadline.
Registration & Paperwork during the Prospectus Defense and Dissertation
While working on the prospectus and writing the dissertation, students will register for 3-10 dissertation credit hours each semester (COML 8990). Students with questions should consult with the Graduate Program Assistant to determine how many hours they should take. The Doctoral Dissertation Hours Tracking Form should be used to keep track of dissertation hours. Dissertation hours are not graded until the dissertation defense and will show on the transcript as “IP” until graduation.
During the final semester of the program there are many administrative steps to be followed in order to graduate. Students should consult the Graduate School’s online Graduation Packet for instructions. The timely completion of these steps is the responsibility of the student. The Graduate Program Assistant is available as a resource to guide students through the process and students are encouraged to meet with him or her.
Students must submit the Application for Diploma, available from the Graduate Program Assistant, the semester they intend to graduate. This form is due to the Graduate School. The due date is available on the Graduate School’s online Graduation Packet. The Graduate Program Assistant must receive copies of all graduation paperwork for the student’s file. Graduating students must notify the Graduate Program Assistant by the 4th week of the semester they intend to graduate, which coincides with the Application for Diploma due date.
The usual timeline followed by PhD students is outlined for each program:
- Coursework completed in two semesters
- Language requirement completed before comprehensive exam is taken
- Comprehensive exam completed by the end of the 4th semester
- Dissertation prospectus defended by the end of the 5th semester
- Graduation in eight semesters
- Coursework completed in four semesters
- Language requirement completed before comprehensive exam is taken
- Comprehensive exam completed by the end of the 6th semester
- Dissertation prospectus defended by the end of the 7th semester
- Graduation in ten semesters
- Coursework completed in six semesters
- Language requirement completed before comprehensive exam is taken
- Comprehensive exam completed by the end of the 8th semester
- Dissertation prospectus defended by the end of the 9th semester
- Graduation in twelve semesters
As long as students have registered for the number of credit hours required by the Graduate School during their course of studies and have received approval from the Program Director, they may complete their studies in less time than the model prescribes.
Satisfactory Progress toward the Degree
Satisfactory progress is defined as meeting the timeline and requirements described above, adhering to the incompletes policy, meeting the minimum GPA requirement, and maintaining continuous enrollment. Students who do not remain continuously enrolled from the time of their initial enrollment in the Program must reapply for admission unless their absence has been approved through the Time Off Program. Any departure from these requirements must be approved by written petition to the Program Director and the student’s faculty advisor. Students who do not follow this requirement will be asked to leave the program.
The Graduate Program Assistant will perform a review during the winter and summer breaks and will notify the Program Director and appropriate faculty advisors of students who are not making satisfactory progress and have not filed the required petition. The Program Director will determine which students are ineligible to continue and will direct the Graduate Program Assistant to remove those students from their classes for the upcoming semester.
The goal of the Comparative Literature Graduate Program is to create professionals in the field of Comparative Literature. In accordance with this goal, no part-time students will be accepted for PhD study unless approved by the Program Director. Part-time students will not receive funding. Students who are having difficulty maintaining satisfactory progress are encouraged to discuss their circumstances at the earliest opportunity with the Program Director and their faculty advisor. Options available include leave of absence or making use of the Time Off Program until they can return to their studies full-time. Students who fall more than one semester behind will become ineligible for teaching appointments and fellowship support unless their petition is approved by their faculty advisor and the Program Director.
Revised June 2010