Comparative Literature (PhD, MA)

Program Overview

Graduate programs in the Department of Comparative Literature possess a long-standing commitment to critical theory and a progressive understanding of the discipline. Examining the ways in which the humanities have engaged with socio-political and ethical concerns in a contemporary world, our interdisciplinary and progressive perspective generates new and exciting scholarship. A clear emphasis on language and linguistics allows for thinking through the temporalities and nuances of addressing the fundamental questions concerning the study of the humanities. Our programs provide qualified students with the framework necessary for studying not only a broad range of literatures, but also other arts and the pursuit of translation studies or interdisciplinary studies.

The department offers three avenues of graduate study with Master of Arts (MA) and doctorate options. It features, in addition to its primary MA and PhD programs in comparative literature, an MA in translation studies, a unique interdisciplinary doctoral program in philosophy, literature, and the theory of criticism, as well as a PhD in translation studies through the internationally recognized Translation Research and Instruction Program (TRIP). Students seeking entry into any of these degree programs must be able to do graduate-level work in one or more foreign languages and must make substantial use of the foreign languages they command while completing coursework.

Degrees Offered

  • PhD in Comparative Literature
  • MA in Comparative Literature

Internships, Research Opportunities and More

Students work closely with the director of graduate studies and the directors of specific programs to formulate a curriculum that meets their needs and maintains the standards of the discipline.

Each spring, the Comparative Literature MA and PhD students organize a graduate conference that stands out for its distinctive keynote speakers and international contributors. Typically addressing topics related to interdisciplinarity, the conference attracts broad attention from students and scholars throughout the humanities, arts and social sciences.

Binghamton University's Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development is an additional resource for students. The Fleishman Center provides many useful services that aid professional development, including mock interviews, résumé critique and career workshops.

After You Graduate

Many graduates of the Comparative Literature program have earned placements at international universities on several continents. But even more teach in the United States at public universities or private colleges, in roles that vary greatly due to the range of skills that our program offers. Graduate students who are funded at Binghamton gain additional experience through teaching assistantships or research assistantships, which provide the training that institutions seek. See where our graduates have gone.

Admissions Requirements

To be eligible for graduate study, you must:

  • Provide a complete set of your undergraduate (and, if applicable, graduate) transcripts showing one of the following:
    • You have earned a bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
    • You are within one academic year of earning a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
    • You are eligible to apply as part of a memorandum of understanding between your current institution and Binghamton University
  • Have earned, at minimum, one of the following:
    • A 3.0 GPA over your entire undergraduate career
    • A 3.0 GPA during your last 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits of your undergraduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail"
    • A 3.0 GPA in a graduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail")
    • In consideration of the different grading scales used around the world, each academic department evaluates international transcripts to determine on a case-by-case basis whether they demonstrate one of the above requirements.

To apply, you must submit the following materials. For general guidelines for these materials, see the Admission Requirements website.

  • Online graduate degree application with graduate degree application fee
  • Transcripts from each college or university that you have attended
    • PhD (Literary Studies): Master's degree in a national literature or in comparative literature
      • Binghamton University MA students who have passed the MA examination with a grade of B+ or better may be recommended to the program. Applicants with an MA degree in a field outside literature are required to take an examination based on a few major literary works. Contact the the department directly for details.
    • PhD (Philosophy, Literature and the Theory of Criticism): Undergraduate major in philosophy or literature desirable for admission.
  • Personal statement of 2 to 3 pages describing your reasons for pursuing graduate study, your career aspirations, your special interests within your field, and any unusual features of your background that might need explanation or be of interest to the graduate admissions committee
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample
    • MA: Typically, an upper-division undergraduate paper or an honors thesis
    • PhD (Literary Studies): Typically, one or more term papers or MA thesis
    • PhD (Philosophy, Literature and the Theory of Criticism): Typically, an upper-division undergraduate paper, an honors thesis or MA thesis
  • GRE scores are accepted, but not required

International students must also submit the following materials. For more information about these materials, see the International Students section of the Admission Requirements website.

  • International Student Financial Statement (ISFS) form
  • Supporting financial documentation (such as bank statements, scholarship or sponsor letters, etc.)
  • Proof of English proficiency (such as official TOEFL/IELTS/PTE Academic/Duolingo* scores)
    • *In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School at Binghamton University has temporarily approved the use of the Duolingo English Test as proof of English proficiency through the 2023 application cycle.

This information is subject to change. While we make every effort to update these program pages, we recommend that you contact the department with questions about program-specific requirements.


Degree Fall Spring
Comparative Literature (PhD)Rolling (January 15 Funding)October 15
Comparative Literature (MA)Rolling (January 15 Funding)October 15

Accelerated/4+1 Degrees

You may also be interested in our accelerated/4+1 degree programs which allow students to complete their bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in just 5 years!

For more information, visit the Comparative Literature website.

Jeroen Gerrits

Associate Professor; Graduate Director; TRIP Courtesy Title

Comparative Literature; Translation Research and Instruction Program (TRIP)

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