Master of Arts in Comparative Literature

Admission to Program

Application requirements:

  • An undergraduate major in literature (comparative and/or world literature, English, or any foreign language and literature).
  • Grade point average of 3.0 in the undergraduate major or consent of the graduate coordinator.
  • Sufficient proficiency in a foreign language/literature taught at the graduate level at SF State (or the University of California, Berkeley) so that the student can take graduate seminars in that language. (Normally, the minimal requisite proficiency is the equivalent of an undergraduate minor in the foreign language.)
  • Submit a two to three-page statement of purpose, including information on proficiency in the foreign language(s) and literature(s), and an 8-10 page formal writing sample of literary analysis to the Department of Comparative and World Literature.
  • Meet the University requirements for Graduate Admissions. See the Graduate Division website for details on policies, procedures, and required forms

Students with grade or subject matter deficiency may be admitted conditionally and achieve classified status as follows: after appropriate consultation with a graduate advisor, the student will be directed toward courses, totaling 6–12 units, some of which may apply to the M.A., and in which the student must achieve a grade of B (3.0) or better. All conditions must be satisfied before students submit the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC).

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will develop an understanding of the scope and goals of the field of Comparative Literature.
  2. Students will become familiar with various traditions of literary theory.
  3. Students will explore one particular body of literary theory or criticism in depth.
  4. Students will learn to analyze, in oral form, texts from multiple literary traditions, at a level appropriate to someone newly entering the profession.
  5. Students will learn to analyze, in written form, texts from multiple literary traditions, at a level appropriate to someone newly entering the profession.
  6. Students will achieve the ability to read and analyze literature in at least one foreign, i.e., non-native, language at the graduate level.
  7. Students will explore the relation of a single national literature to other literatures.
  8. Students will participate in the larger community of comparatists.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One

is satisfied by the writing sample submitted as part of the application process.

Level Two

is satisfied by the final paper in CWL 825.

Advancement to Candidacy

Besides meeting all general requirements for advancement to candidacy, applicants must complete successfully, with a grade of B or higher, the course CWL 800, in which the ability to do critical writing will be demonstrated.

Student Portfolio

Following departmental guidelines, all students will complete a portfolio prior to graduation.

Upper division courses offered by the department may be used upon approval of a faculty advisor.

Comparative Literature (M.A.) — Minimum 30 units

Core Requirements (12 units)

CWL 800Introduction to Graduate Study in Comparative Literature3
CWL 815Seminar: Topics in Critical Theory3
CWL 820Topics in Comparative Literature3
CWL 825Advanced Study in Humanities and Comparative Literature3

Foreign Literature Requirement (9 units)

Graduate seminars in a single foreign literature

Note: "Foreign Literature" means a literature and language other than the student's native language; e.g., a native speaker of Japanese must complete seminars in a literature other than Japanese.

Program Electives (6 units)

Upper-division or graduate courses other than that of the Foreign Literature Requirement. Electives can include courses in English literature, Comparative Literature, Humanities, a second foreign literature read in the original language or in translation, or courses in pedagogy (e.g., courses for the Certificate in the Teaching of Composition).

Culminating Experience (3 units)

Select one of the following:
CWL 896Directed Reading in Comparative Literature (and Comprehensive Oral Examination)3
CWL 898Master's Thesis (and Prospectus)3

Comprehensive Oral Examination

Upon completion of course work, the student not writing a thesis must pass a comprehensive oral examination administered by a committee of a minimum of two faculty members and based on the departmental reading list and additional authors selected by the student, in consultation with the examination committee.

Master's Thesis and Prospectus

A written and oral presentation of the thesis prospectus is required before the writing of the thesis. The student's committee of a minimum of two faculty members must approve the prospectus.