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Professional Development and Placement

A Versatile PhD in Comparative Literature

A PhD in Comparative Literature is a pathway to many kinds of meaningful and rewarding work in the humanities. Our department is committed to a versatile PhD that will support diverse career paths for our graduate students, and we offer a flexible doctoral program that includes various opportunities for professional development.

In addition to preparing students for faculty positions at universities and four-year colleges and community colleges, for instruction in writing centers or language programs, and for teaching in secondary education and independent or international schools, a PhD in Comparative Literature may lead to non-teaching careers in academic settings, including work in libraries, special collections, language resource centers, student advising, faculty instructional support, college admissions, and administrative positions in higher education.

Our students also use their training in Comparative Literature to pursue careers beyond academia; e.g. as professional journalists, bloggers, translators, editors, publishers, social justice activists, grant-writers; in public libraries, museums, archives, government, NGO’s, humanities councils, political networks, non-profits, and community organizations; and in work related to the visual and performing arts, digital humanities, new media, business ventures, interdisciplinary projects, and public-facing humanities.

We encourage current and prospective students to read Putting the Humanities to Work,Thriving in and beyond the Classroom (2020), written by Katina Rogers who received a PhD in Comparative Literature.


Alumni Placement Information

Current placement data for our graduate program from the last 20 years (2001-2021) yields the following profiles of students who have completed the PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan:

  • Higher Education

-60% of graduates are currently in higher education (tenure track, non-tenure track, research, fellowship, and administrator/staff positions)

-31% are employed in tenure track positions

-Those included in the Administrator/Staff Member Working in Higher Ed category include a humanities librarian, program coordinators, an academic success coach, and directors of writing programs.

  • Freelancer/Self-Employed/Independent Scholar

-This category includes alums working as bloggers, authors/poets, translators, and small business owners.

  • Professional/Research in Business or Industry

-Including the editor of a national publication, technology researchers and designers, content writers, and copy editors.

  • Placement Location

-84% are based in the United States and 4% are in Canada.
-Of those in the United States, 31% are in the northeast region, 27% are in the midwest, 20% are in the west, 17% are in the southeast, and the remaining 7% are in the southwest.