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PhD Program

The deadline for Ph.D. applications is January 1.

The Ph.D. (72 Credits)
30 Credits (10 courses) Intensive (A) Seminars
Orals Examination (upon completion, students can apply for the M.A.)
Dissertation (approximately 150-300 pages)
Dissertation Defense

The above information is provided as a guide. Requirements may vary. Please see the Department Director of Graduate Studies, or your advisor for information tailored to your situation.

Contact Information

Kalliopi Nikolopoulou, Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

University Registration Guidelines Website: 

For application and other administrative questions please contact: Mary Ann Carrick 



Academic Requirements for the Ph.D. Program

The Comparative Literature department seeks intelligent, highly motivated, and imaginative students with a strong interest in interdisciplinary and theoretical approaches to literature. For the M.A. degree, four semesters are required. The department offers four years of career support to doctoral candidates awarded teaching fellowships. Application requirements include a B.A. or its equivalent, GRE results (verbal and analytic), three letters of recommendation, and a sample of critical writing for admission into the M.A. and Ph.D. programs. GRE scores are required from all applicants and must be less than two years old. M.A. candidates may take an oral examination for the degree, or may choose to write a long essay. Ph.D. candidates prepare for an oral examination substantially of their own design, in consultation with a faculty committee. After fulfilling the oral examination, students are free to develop and complete a dissertation with a committee of three faculty of their choice.


Ph.D. candidates must be:

  • Competent in at least one foreign language upon entering, demonstrated by advanced literary study at the undergraduate level, GRE scores, or by language examinations furnished by the department; and
  • Competent in a second foreign modern or classical language, demonstrated by course grades or examination, by the end of the fifth semester.


Since the department affords a variety of general fields of study, the selection of courses will be determined by the student’s specific area of research. A minimum of ten courses will be required for the Ph.D. Supervised reading courses with individual faculty are not considered in fulfillment of this requirement. No fewer than 5 must be taught by COL Faculty. Cross-listed courses do not count toward those five. The proportion of literary to theoretical and interdisciplinary courses will be determined in consultation with faculty advisers, subject to the approval of the director of graduate studies.


The preliminary examination should be taken no later than the end of the fifth semester. It is divided into three fields of competence, which again are determined according to the student’s individual program of study. The examination will typically be divided between two national literatures and will be selected from the following categories: period, genre, major figures, literary theme, and theoretical interests. In consultation with advisers, students compile three reading lists of no fewer than 20 titles each in their relevant fields of expertise.


By the end of the third year of graduate study, students must have established a Dissertation Committee. The Dissertation Committee may be the same as or different from the Qualifying Examination Committee.

A prospectus for the dissertation must be written by the end of the third year of graduate study. It should describe the subject and methodology of the dissertation in detail. The dissertation is an original work of scholarship or criticism; its forms and conventions are stipulated in a style sheet provided by the Graduate School.

The dissertation must be read and approved by the three members of the student’s committee and by an outside reader (either a member of the UB graduate faculty outside comparative literature, or a qualified faculty member at another University).