PhD in Comparative Literature

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  • Entry requirements
    The criteria for admission to our program include not only competitive undergraduate/graduate GPAs and GRE scores, but also strong statement of academic purpose and personal statement essays, writing sample in English, maximum 10 pages double-spaced, and letters of recommendation. Preparation in at least one language other than English is required, with additional language preparation strongly recommended and preferred.
  • Course description

    The Ph.D. program is designed to provide familiarity with one literature in comprehensive historical and critical ways and the demonstrated ability to do comparative work in three literatures. The Ph.D. is awarded upon the successful completion of a doctoral dissertation.

    The Ph.D. program requires:

    1. A minimum of 10 courses taken at Berkeley distributed as follows:
    * Comparative Literature 200 OR one course from the C.L. 202 series
    * Three additional graduate courses in Comparative Literature
    * Four graduate courses in the major literature
    * One graduate course in each of the two minor literatures.

    Students admitted from graduate programs elsewhere will have their courses evaluated by an advisor and approved by the Vice Chair for credit towards the ten course requirement and “coverage.”

    2. Completion of the second year review. No later than the fourth semester, students meet with a committee of three faculty members to review progress toward the degree and plan the remaining work required for the Ph.D. For those students who wish a terminal M.A. degree or for those who wish to continue in the Ph.D. program with a formal Master’s title, a Master’s examination is required at this time.
    3. Historical coverage in the major literature as demonstrated by coursework or inclusion of items on the Ph.D. reading list.
    4. Knowledge of at least three foreign languages other than English.
    5. A Qualifying Examination for which the student prepares reading lists for one major literature and two minor literatures and indicates an area of focus via a statement of interest. The examination consists of both a written and an oral portion.
    6. A doctoral dissertation based on a prospectus presented the semester following successful completion of the Qualifying Examination.
    Progress toward the Degree
    The U.C. Berkeley Graduate Division has established a “normative time” of seven years for completion of the Ph.D. degree in Comparative Literature. Following is a recommended timetable:

    * Second year review (or M.A. coursework and examinations) completed by end of fourth semester
    * Ph.D. coursework and Qualifying Examination completed by the end of the eighth semester
    * Dissertation completed by the end of the fourteenth semester.

    While students are urged to stay within this timetable, the department also recognizes that there are legitimate reasons for deviating from it. Students are required to review their progress with their advisors during the enrollment period each semester, as progress toward the degree is an important factor weighed by the department when making fellowship evaluations and hiring Graduate Student Instructors.

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