Master of Arts in English (Comparative Literature)

Claudia Sadowski-Smith, Faculty Advisor

Samantha Franze, Graduate Academic Advisor


The Master of Arts (M.A.) in English (comparative literature track) introduces students to the study of literary and cultural phenomena beyond linguistic, national or academic boundaries. Students are asked to study cultural productions in English and at least one other language, and to explore approaches ranging from textual criticism, critical theory and translation to cultural studies and the social sciences. Comparative Literature invites students to investigate the interactions of literary and cultural productions with adjacent fields like film, theater, linguistics, history, philosophy, American Indian, ethnic, area, women and gender studies and with the social sciences. The field of Comparative Literature also encourages the exploration of cultural phenomena from a transnational and global perspective.

In coordination with the program advisor and with the students’ supervisory committee or applied project director, students can largely design their own programs of study within a general set of requirements. The M.A. in English (comparative literature) can provide students with an excellent education in the humanities as well as with the flexibility to pursue other fields of interests if desired. The M.A. qualifies for admission to doctoral programs in comparative literature, English and other language-based literature and culture programs of a student's specialization as well as to interdisciplinary programs more generally. The degree also prepares students for careers in business, government and the media. Fluency in at least two languages is required to be successful in this program. Students may specialize in any language and culture to the extent that they are sufficiently covered at ASU.


The deadline is May 1st for the following fall.

Note: The committee reviews applications shortly after the deadline. The application must be complete with all supporting documents before review. This is the applicant's responsibility. Please plan accordingly when submitting an application.

The Graduate College requires a grade point average of “B” (3.00) or better in the last two years of work leading to the bachelor’s degree. Applicants must apply online to Graduate College. The following items must be submitted along with the application:

  1. A one to two page, single spaced statement of purpose detailing the student’s background, reasons for wanting to do graduate work in comparative literature, and plans for the future.
  2. Three letters of recommendation from faculty familiar with the applicant’s work.
  3. Resume or vita.
  4. Academic writing sample relevant to the field (minimum 15 pages in length).
  5. Official transcripts.

*The GRE is not required for this program.

International students must have an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS score report sent to the Graduate College. Please refer to the English Proficiency Score requirements.

Information on how to apply.

Important Notice to Current International Students: In order for international students to maintain good standing for their VISAs, they must take a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester (i.e., 3 classes), 6 of which should be face-to-face classes.

Course Requirements

At least 30 hours at the graduate level are required, with a minimum of 12 hours in a language other than English. In addition, special needs can be met with reading and conference (ENG 590).

Program Requirements (30 credit hours total): 

  • ENG 501 Approaches to Research (3 credits)
  • One course in concept and methods (course in comparative literature, criticism, or translation) (3 credits)
  • Four courses in a language other than English (12 credits)
  • Electives (6-9 credits)*
  • Culminating Experience: Thesis (6 credits)^ or Applied Project (3 credits)'

*Depending on chosen culminating experience, Applied Project students take 9 electives and Thesis students take 6 electives.

Thesis^: (24 hours of coursework and 6 hours of Thesis ENG 599). Under the direction of the supervisory committee, the student writes a master's thesis and defends it at an oral examination. Each candidate in the program is closely advised by a three-member supervisory committee, chosen by the student. Each examination will be evaluated by the student’s supervisory committee as named on the student's plan of study.

Non-thesis Option': (27 coursework and 3 hours of Applied Project ENG 593). Student works with an Applied Project director and one additional committee member. There will be an oral presentation of the project.