Graduate Degree Requirements

We accept students for the doctoral program. The M.A., if not already in hand, is earned en route to the PhD. Terminal MA applications are accepted only in rare cases, and no financial consideration is given to such applicants. PhD students must fulfill MA requirements before continuing on to their doctorate.


Of the 32 points required for the Master of Arts degree (including at least 24 points in residence at NYU), 20 points must be taken in the Department of Comparative Literature and 12 chosen from other literature departments. The Masters degree also requires certification in two languages in addition to English, and an MA thesis that revises an approved term paper to the equivalent of publication standards.


The PhD degree requires completion of 72 points of coursework - 40 points in comparative literature and 32 in a national literature or literatures and/or courses from affiliated departments. These courses must include a full year of study in criticism and theory, two courses of which must be criticism before 1800. Also required is certification in three languages in addition to English - or, substituting for the third language -- three courses in a non-literary discipline.  Past examples include: performance studies, cinema studies, and africana studies to name a few. The PhD written examination is a take-home examination on three topics, followed within the next semester by the oral examination. The PhD dissertation must be approved by an adviser and two major readers; two further readers are invited to join the oral defense jury.

Please also refer to our Departmental Handbook, available here.