Comparative Literature

Program Overview

The Centre for Comparative Literature offers the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs to students qualified to pursue literary studies involving several languages. Students pursue research across languages and national literatures, and theoretical issues that cross traditional disciplines.

Admissions are selective; therefore, applicants with the minimum qualifications cannot be guaranteed admission.

Applicants, including those from the University of Toronto, must arrange for recommendations from two referees; must submit a statement of up to 500 words; and must submit a sample of written work, preferably a short essay on a literary topic. Admission to all programs for higher degrees will be based upon the applicant’s undergraduate and graduate records and upon the evidence of the references and statement. The deadline for receiving applications to both the MA and PhD programs is January 15.

All incoming students will meet with the Graduate Coordinator to discuss their program and to decide on their course of study before beginning classes.


Quick Facts

Domestic International
Application payment deadline MA, PhD:

15-Dec-2019

MA, PhD:

15-Dec-2019

Supporting documents deadline MA, PhD:

15-Jan-2020

MA, PhD:

15-Jan-2020

Minimum admission average MA:

B+ in final year of bachelor’s

PhD:

A-minus average in Master’s

MA:

B+ in final year of bachelor’s

PhD:

A-minus average in Master’s

Direct entry option from bachelor's to PhD? PhD:

Yes (minimum A-minus average in bachelor’s degree)

PhD:

Yes (minimum A-minus average in bachelor’s degree)

Is a supervisor identified before or after admission? PhD:

After

PhD:

After

If a supervisor is identified after admission (as per question above), is admission conditional upon securing a supervisor? PhD:

No

PhD:

No

Is a supervisor assigned by the graduate unit or secured by the applicant? PhD:

Applicant

PhD:

Applicant

Program length (full-time only) MA:

3 sessions

PhD:

4 years; 5 years if entering directly from bachelor’s

MA:

3 sessions

PhD:

4 years; 5 years if entering directly from bachelor’s


Master of Arts​

Program Description

The Comparative Literature MA program is a course-based program that accommodates a diverse range of students’ interests. The interdisciplinary and transnational character of the program is reflected in the fact that students may take up to half their courses in other departments of their choice. Students work in languages other than English, and their study may include work in a non-literary discipline. The COL 1000H Faculty Seminar provides a basis for study in the program. All incoming students take this seminar course where they consider core theoretical problems of comparison.

All incoming students meet with the Graduate Coordinator to discuss their program and to decide on their course of study before beginning classes.
 

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies, provided that applicants also satisfy the Centre for Comparative Literature's requirements stated below. In all cases, programs of study must be approved by the centre.

  • An appropriate bachelor's degree from a recognized university that includes courses in literature and languages with an average grade equivalent to at least a University of Toronto B+ in the applicant's overall program.

  • Demonstrated experience in the study of two literatures (or in comparative literature and one national literature) at the undergraduate level and an ability to work at the graduate level in at least one language other than English.

  • All applicants must register as full-time students.

Program Requirements

  • Students admitted to the MA must complete at least 4.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) including:

    • COL 1000H Faculty Seminar (0.5 FCE)

    • at least 1.5 FCEs in COL courses.

  • Students may pursue independent research for credit equivalent to 0.5 FCE at the MA level, under the direction of an advisor approved by the Centre for Comparative Literature.

  • A plan of study is defined by each MA student through consultation with the Graduate Coordinator in light of the student's particular areas of interest and background. This plan of study is subject to the approval of the Centre for Comparative Literature. In addition to the numerous courses in literary theory, methodology, and interdisciplinary topics offered by the centre, courses may also be selected from departments of language and literature, as well as from other units in the humanities.

  • Average of at least B+ in coursework.

  • MA students who intend to pursue doctoral studies are strongly advised to make appropriate plans for the acquisition of graduate level competence in a second language and literature other than English. An adequate reading knowledge of this second language must be demonstrated before the MA is received.

Program Length

3 sessions ​full-time (typical registration sequence: F/W/S)

Time Limit

3 years full-time

​Doctor of Philosophy​

Program Description

The Comparative Literature PhD program accommodates a diverse range of students’ interests united by a shared concern for comparative issues. The interdisciplinary and transnational character of the program is reflected in the fact that students may take up to approximately half their courses in other departments of their choice. Students work in at least two languages other than English, and their study may include work in a non-literary discipline.

All incoming students meet with the Graduate Coordinator to discuss their program and to decide on their course of study before beginning classes.

The Centre for Comparative Literature only provides supervision in areas which fall within the competency, interests, or availability of its graduate faculty.
 

PhD Program

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies, provided that applicants also satisfy the Centre for Comparative Literature's requirements stated below. In all cases, programs of study must be approved by the centre.

  • An appropriate master's degree with an average grade of at least A–. Normally, the master's degree will be in comparative literature; however, students with a master's degree in a humanities discipline involving literary studies, especially specific language and literature programs, will also be considered. Demonstrated ability to do advanced research in two languages and literatures other than English.

  • Applicants, including those from the University of Toronto, must arrange for recommendations from two referees; must submit a statement of purpose of approximately 500 words; and must submit a sample of written work, preferably a short essay on a literary topic.

Program Requirements

  • A student with an MA in Comparative Literature or its equivalent must take at least 4.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs), of which a minimum of 2.0 FCEs must be COL courses. A student who has an MA in a humanities discipline involving literary studies, especially specific language and literature programs, may be required to take more courses. The actual number of courses required for the PhD will be established at the time of admission through consultation with the Director/Coordinator of Graduate Studies.

  • Students may pursue independent research for credit equivalent to 0.5 FCE at the PhD level, under the direction of an advisor approved by the centre.

  • Students define the scope and approach of their plan of study in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and other faculty. During the first two years of the program, students complete coursework, language requirements, and prepare for the field examination. Coursework must be completed within the first two years of the PhD program. Students constitute a field examination/ supervisory committee and submit a dissertation proposal no later than the end of Year 2 of PhD study. The field examination is taken ideally no later than the end of the first session of Year 3.

  • Students must demonstrate an ability to work at the graduate level in two languages and literatures other than English. An adequate reading knowledge of a third language other than English must be demonstrated before taking the field examination. For this last requirement, it is possible to substitute competency in a non-literary discipline. The centre reserves the right to determine whether a student has met this requirement. Typically, it will be two graduate half courses. Certification of graduate-level competence and reading knowledge in languages is given to all students who qualify.

  • All PhD students are required to take their field examination by the end of the Spring session of Year 3 of the program. The examination consists of both a field paper and an oral component.

    • The field paper is a 30-page critical essay based on the candidate’s reading list that assesses the current state of research and delineates issues and questions pertinent to the thesis. The field paper must be submitted two to three weeks prior to the oral field exam.

    • The oral part of the examination begins with a textual explication by the student, no more than 30 minutes in length, of a specific passage or poem from a work in the primary reading list, assigned for preparation at least three days in advance. For the presentation, only notes or a general outline may be used. The rest of the examination usually consists of questions concerning the student's commentary on the text, the written field paper, the reading list of the original field proposal, and/or other aspects of the field. The oral exam lasts for two hours.

  • In the event of failure, the student will be given one more chance to take the exam within one year. Failure after two attempts will lead to the termination of the student's registration.

  • When the field examination has been completed successfully, the candidate will prepare and defend a dissertation which must be an original and significant contribution to the existing body of knowledge.

  • Students' progress will be assessed at least once a year by the centre's Graduate Academic Committee and/or their respective supervisory committees. Although the program has been designed for completion in four years, some students may require a longer period to complete all of the requirements.

  • The student must be geographically available, visit the campus regularly, and must register as a full-time student. In addition, a full-time student is not permitted to be absent from the University for an extended period or to participate in a program offered by another university without the explicit written permission of the Centre for Comparative Literature.

Program Length

4 years

Time Limit

6 years
 

PhD Program (Direct-Entry)

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies, provided that applicants also satisfy the Centre for Comparative Literature's requirements stated below. In all cases, programs of study must be approved by the centre.

  • Students coming directly out of an appropriate undergraduate program (direct-entry) who have a demonstrated, exceptional ability to undertake advanced research in two languages and literatures other than English may be considered for direct admission into the PhD program.

  • Applicants, including those from the University of Toronto, must arrange for recommendations from two referees; must submit a statement of purpose not exceeding 500 words; and must submit a sample of written work, preferably a short essay on a literary topic.

Program Requirements

  • A student with a bachelor's degree who is admitted directly to the PhD program must take at least 6.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs), of which 3.0 must be COL courses. The actual number of courses required for the PhD will be established at the time of admission through consultation with the Director/Coordinator of Graduate Studies.

  • Students may pursue independent research for credit equivalent to 0.5 FCE at the PhD level, under the direction of an advisor approved by the centre.

  • Students define the scope and approach of their plan of study in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and other faculty. During the first two years of the program, students complete coursework, language requirements, and prepare for the field examination. Coursework must be completed within the first two years of the PhD program. Students constitute a field examination/ supervisory committee and submit a dissertation proposal no later than the end of Year 2 of PhD study. The field examination is taken ideally no later than the end of the first session of Year 3.

  • Students must demonstrate an ability to work at the graduate level in two languages and literatures other than English. An adequate reading knowledge of a third language other than English must be demonstrated before taking the field examination. For this last requirement, it is possible to substitute competency in a non-literary discipline. The centre reserves the right to determine whether a student has met this requirement. Typically, it will be two graduate half courses. Certification of graduate-level competence and reading knowledge in languages is given to all students who qualify.

  • All PhD students are required to take their field examination by the end of the Spring session of Year 3 of the program. The examination consists of both a field paper and an oral component.

    • The field paper is a 30-page critical essay based on the candidate’s reading list that assesses the current state of research and delineates issues and questions pertinent to the thesis. The field paper must be submitted two to three weeks prior to the oral field exam.

    • The oral part of the examination begins with a textual explication by the student, no more than 30 minutes in length, of a specific passage or poem from a work in the primary reading list, assigned for preparation at least three days in advance. For the presentation, only notes or a general outline may be used. The rest of the examination usually consists of questions concerning the student's commentary on the text, the written field paper, the reading list of the original field proposal, and/or other aspects of the field. The oral exam lasts for two hours.

  • In the event of failure, the student will be given one more chance to take the exam within one year. Failure after two attempts will lead to the termination of the student's registration.

  • When the field examination has been completed successfully, the candidate will prepare and defend a dissertation which must be an original and significant contribution to the existing body of knowledge.

  • Students' progress will be assessed at least once a year by the centre's Graduate Academic Committee and/or their respective supervisory committees.

  • The student must be geographically available, visit the campus regularly, and must register as a full-time student. In addition, a full-time student is not permitted to be absent from the University for an extended period or to participate in a program offered by another university without the explicit written permission of the Centre for Comparative Literature.

Program Length

5 years

Time Limit

7 years

Yongshan He

“The faculty members I’ve met at U of T are all very friendly, so don’t be shy.”

Yongshan He
PhD Candidate, East Asian Studies
Full Profile