About the Program

A separate Ph.D. program housed within the Department of English and Comparative Literature, the Program in Comparative Literature seeks to train Ph.D. candidates in comparative literary analysis as well as in cultural studies and other interdisciplinary fields ranging from film and visual culture to anthropology, philosophy and literature, and the history of science and medicine.  You can read more about graduate admissions here.

Graduate Coursework

In addition to a required introductory seminar, Introduction to Graduate Study, Ph.D. candidates in the program are expected to enroll in at least one semester of History of Literary Criticism, a diachronic survey of key texts in the history of literary criticism and aesthetics. The remaining courses towards the Ph.D. degree are selected by each graduate student in consultation with his or her advisors; these courses can be chosen from various departments and curricula at UNC as well as at neighboring universities such as Duke. A strong advising system in the program assists students in defining their fields of study and in choosing relevant courses during the first three years of the program. Fields may be defined chronologically (Medieval; Enlightenment), geo-culturally (East Asian Studies; Slavic Literature and Culture; Transatlantic), or theoretically (Visual Culture; Literature and Medicine; Postcolonial Studies).

Foreign Languages

Students entering the program in Comparative Literature are expected to have a very advanced knowledge of one foreign language or an intermediate knowledge of two (or more) languages. Once enrolled in the program, students are required to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in two foreign languages (in addition to English); proficiency may be demonstrated through coursework or through examinations.

Please note that students enrolled in the Program of Comparative Literature who plan to apply for academic jobs in fields outside of English Literature are expected to pursue additional study in one foreign literature of their choice; this may include extra coursework, a field examination in one foreign literature, and/or study abroad in a suitable country.

Faculty Strengths and Interests

The Program in Comparative Literature draws its strengths from across the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC, but also has particular strengths in the following areas: Germanic Literature and Culture; Comparative Eighteenth-Century Studies (German, English, French, and Japanese); later Medieval and Renaissance Comparative Literature (especially Arthurian Studies, neo-Latin literature, and the History of Classical Reception); cross-disciplinary work in literature and the visual arts; Transatlantic and Colonial literatures (Anglo-American, Latin American, and Caribbean); Global Cinema and Film Theory; Comparative European Modernism.

How to Apply

Please submit applications directly to the Graduate School via their online application.​ The Graduate School will not accept materials from organizations such as Interfolio.

On the Graduate School Application, you do not need to list the names of faculty with whom you would like to work. You may list the names if you wish. If there are specific faculty with whom you would like to work, you can include that information in your Statement of Purpose. English and Comparative Literature faculty encourage you to contact them regarding your interest in our programs and their work.

For further information about your application, please contact:

Sharon Brinson, Graduate Student Services Specialist:

More information on admissions here.