MA Degree Requirements

M.A. Requirements in Comparative Literature

The MA in comparative literature requires 36 hours of coursework, including CL 402/ 502 Introduction to Comparative Literature and three additional courses in comparative literature on the 400 or 500 level. The remaining 24 hours of course work on the 400 and 500 level may be pursued in comparative literature or in affiliated departments or programs. Students desiring to be admitted to the PhD should plan their course of study so as to build a solid foundation for the PhD All students earning an MA in comparative literature must demonstrate superior skills in English and, as a minimum, reading ability in one additional language pertinent to their areas of interest.

All students entering the program without an MA in comparative literature will first earn the MA degree. 

Language Requirement

All students earning an MA in comparative literature must demonstrate superior skills in English and, as a minimum, reading ability in one additional language pertinent to their areas of interest. Reading ability in a language other than English may be demonstrated by examination, by successful completion of the two-semester reading knowledge sequence in the pertinent language, or by successful completion of one 400 or 500-level course that requires the student to read the texts in the original language. Students desiring to pursue the PhD after the MA should be mindful of the steeper language requirement of the PhD and should plan their course of study at the MA level accordingly.

MA Paper

In the final semester of MA coursework, each masters student chooses a seminar in which to write a more substantial paper, designated the MA Paper, that will be defended in late April before a committee consisting of the seminar instructor and two additional faculty members.  Successful defense of this paper is required for graduation.  It will be evaluated as Pass/Fail based on the paper and the defense. Students hoping to continue in the PhD program should submit the MA paper in late November.

MA Thesis

In rare cases a masters student may be permitted to write a thesis in lieu of an MA paper.  A masters thesis requires 6 hours of thesis work distributed over two semesters in the second year.  Students must identify and secure the cooperation of a thesis director and obtain permission from a committee appointed by the Director of Comparative Literature. Instructions concerning this procedure may be obtained in the office of Comparative Literature.  This option is not recommended for students planning to continue on with the PhD at WashU.