The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Academics

Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature

The Program in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the most vibrant and innovative programs for the study of comparative literature in the nation. Founded in the late 1960s, the program boasts an internationally renowned faculty with particular strengths in interdisciplinary studies and translation. While many other programs rely on faculty whose appointments are primarily in other departments, our core faculty is based in Comparative Literature. The program confers the PhD and the MA degrees in Comparative Literature; MA students may choose to follow a dedicated track in Translation and Interpreting Studies.

A defining feature of our program is the strong sense of community. Together, faculty and graduate students form an exceptionally diverse and supportive community, hailing from across the United States, Spain, Iran, Belgium, South Africa, Pakistan, Italy, Poland, the People’s Republic of China, Israel, Turkey, Mexico, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Saudi Arabia. Students have considerable freedom in designing their course of study and work across disciplinary boundaries. 

UMass Amherst actively promotes equal opportunities. We welcome students from minoritized and historically underrepresented backgrounds to apply. 

Graduate students in comparative literature may complement their credentials by earning additional certificates in such areas as Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, Feminist Studies, and Film Studies.

We are dedicated to training our students as scholars and teachers; all incoming students begin by serving as a teaching assistant for a faculty-led lecture course and participate in a new TA workshop. After their first year, graduate students have the opportunity to design and offer their own stand alone literature courses. Several of our students have been awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award. Graduate teaching is supported through ongoing workshops and resources through the Center for Teaching and Learning; our students often teach in the Residential Academic Program, the various language programs, and the Writing Program. 

A major advantage of pursuing graduate studies in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the opportunity to work closely with our faculty while drawing on the considerable resources of the Five College Consortium, which includes some of the leading liberal arts institutions in the country: Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College. Graduate students may take courses at any of these institutions and have access to their extensive library resources and special collections. Among the outstanding resources available to graduate students are the Five College Center for the Study of World LanguagesThe Massachusetts Review, the Translation Center, the DEFA Film Library, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, the Yiddish Book Center, and research networks such as the Arthur F. Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies and Five College African Studies.

We are situated in Amherst, one of the nation’s most beloved college towns. The area is widely appreciated for its beautiful surroundings, vibrant, cosmopolitan community, and rich literary heritage as a home to writers such as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Richard Wilbur, and Shirley Graham Du Bois. The campus is 1.5 hours drive from Boston and New Haven, and 3 hours from New York City.

Applications to the graduate program are due by January 5, 2021.

  • The GRE is no longer required for admission; applicants who have taken the GRE may submit their results if they so choose; no applicant will be penalized for not submitting GRE scores.
  • PhD Funding: Students in the PhD program receive a generous package of five years of guaranteed funding support through teaching assistantships (contingent on satisfactory progress and performance), which includes excellent health benefits. The Graduate School also offers a variety of summer fellowships on a competitve basis to fund student research and writing during the summer months; many of our doctoral students successfuly secure these grants. PhD students from underrepresented minorities may also qualify for additional funding support through the Research Enhancement and Leadership (REAL) fellowship from the Graduate School which includes guaranteed summer funding and mentoring support for four summers.
  • MA Funding: Support (in the form of teaching assistantships) is available for highly qualified applicants to the MA. We encourage recipients of Fulbright grants or other extrernal fellowships to apply.
  • The admission fee may be waived for qualifying US students experiencing financial hardship; unfortunately, we cannot waive the admission fee for international students.
  • Admission is highly selective; applications are reviewed on an annual basis in early January and offers of admission go out in early spring.
  • Applicants are expected to have a first degree in a related discipline.
  • Expected language competency: PhD applicants must have an advanced level of proficiency in a second language, and an intermediate level in a third language. MA applicants are expected to demonstrate an advanced level of proficiency in their second language; if admitted, MA students will be required to do a semester of coursework in a third language at UMass or one of the Five Colleges if they do not have already have proficiency in a third language. 
  • Foreign applicants must take the TOEFL or comparable language test.

Placement and Awards: Recent graduate alumni have secured academic jobs and postdoctoral appointments at Swarthmore College, the University of Virginia, Tulane University, the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University, UMass Amherst, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ), Union College, Beloit College (Washington), George Mason University, University of Georgia, College of the Holy Cross, Florida International University, the University of Manchester, the University of Palermo, the University of Malta, and the University of Peradeniya. Our alumni earn jobs in translation, secondary education, and government service, and are solicited as consultants for major film festivals and documentaries. For more information on the achievements of our graduate student and alumni, please visit: https://www.umass.edu/complit/graduate-students. 

For further information on the requirements for admission and the different degree programs offered within the Program, please contact Professor Kathryn Lachman, Graduate Program Director, at klachman@umass.edu. For more information on Translation and Interpreting Studies at UMass, please contact Professor Moira Inghilleri at minghilleri@complit.umass.edu. For profiles of current graduate students, please visit: https://www.umass.edu/complit/graduate-students