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Degree Requirements

The major in Comparative Literature requires students to complete training in at least one foreign language, necessary for the study of foreign literature courses at the 300 level and beyond. 

Major Program. Students are required to take a minimum of 33 credits, according to the following plan. 

  • 24 credits. A complimentary grouping of literature courses at the 300 level or above in a minimum of two languages (one of which may be English). At least 12 credits are required in each literature. 

    • If a student chooses to work in English as one of the chosen languages, then a maximum of 18 credits of undergraduate courses in COMPLIT may be applied to the major, of which the maximum number of credits at the 200- level is six. Students may also combine with COMPLIT courses other elective courses in the national literature departments and related fields, in consultation with an undergraduate advisor. 

  • 3 credits. The senior seminar, COMPLIT 495, is required for all students in the major. 

  • 6 credits. COMPLIT courses at the 200 level or above. For those writing a senior thesis during the last term, COMPLIT 496 (3 credits) may be used. 

Please note: Most courses for the major should be taken at the 300 level and above. 100-level courses do not count toward the major. Students cannot count more than 6 credits of 200 level COMPLIT courses toward a major in Comparative Literature.

Selecting courses in Comparative Literature

The Department of Comparative Literature offers courses at the 300 and 400 levels, with more specialized topics that vary each term. For more information, see our Curriculum Overview with a general description of Comparative Literature courses. Not every course listed is offered every term, and new courses are introduced on a regular basis. We recommend you check the LSA Course Guide for the most up-to-date information when considering which courses you want to take. The Course Guide gives you detailed descriptions of courses being offered in any particular term and identifies what requirements that particular section fulfills.

Selecting courses in other departments

Taking courses in other departments is an important part of your major in Comparative Literature. You will fulfill one of your language requirements by taking at least 12 credits in one of the foreign language departments. In addition, you may consult with your undergraduate advisors if you want to select a course in a related field that is relevant to the “focus” or “theme” of your plan of study. With approval from the undergraduate advisor, you may count such courses (at the 300 level or above) toward literature courses in your second language. For example, you may propose to take related courses in Afro-American and African Studies, Anthropology, American Culture, Art History, Classical Civilization, History, Judaic Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Museum Studies, Music, Political Science, Theatre & Dance, Screen Arts or other departments related to your area of interest.

Study, travel, or work abroad

We encourage students to pursue study, research, or an internship abroad as part of their major in Comparative Literature. These experiences provide opportunities to develop a better understanding of other languages, works of literature, and cultures that are central to your studies in Comparative Literature. During your time abroad, you may also discover ideas for translation projects or research that can be developed into a topic for an Honors Thesis. 

U-M offers a wide range of resources to help you identify both opportunities and funding. This (non-exhaustive) list of U-M resources may help get you started:

  • M-Compass, the University of Michigan's gateway for global and engaged learning opportunities.

  • Global Michigan, a campus-wide portal for the University of Michigan’s international engagement. The site features faculty initiatives, education abroad opportunities for students, and a collection of travel policies and resources designed to support global activities for all U-M community members

  • Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) programming features semester-long study abroad options, 3–10 week programs during spring and summer, and academic- and calendar-year programs.

  • The LSA Opportunity Hub services include alum-hosted internships, internship scholarships, and opportunities to build important relationships with alums and employers.

  • The International Center’s Education Abroad Office provides information about options for studying, working, or traveling abroad to students and other members of the U-M community. They also have a list of funding resources on campus. 

  • The LSA Scholarships Office provides funding for study abroad and internships.

  • The Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships website is intended to provide a single, comprehensive source of information for students seeking nationally- and internationally competitive scholarships and fellowships. 

  • The International Institute and its constituent centers and programs provide expertise in specific regions of the world and in thematic issues such as international business, security, development, and governance. Many of our centers offer seminars, degree programs, cultural events, and research funding. 

The International Career Pathways (ICP) network brings University of Michigan students together with educators and employers to explore pathways to global careers through opportunities for significant experiences abroad (work, internships, volunteering, and research abroad) and international education, both on-campus and abroad.

Direct Reading/Independent Study

The Department of Comparative Literature offers course credit for independent study supervised by a faculty member, in areas where there are no regular course offerings. COMPLIT 498 (Directed Reading) is an opportunity for highly motivated and capable students to pursue a rigorous course of independent study not accommodated elsewhere in the Department. COMPLIT 498 does not fulfill College distribution requirements and is intended for students who have demonstrated academic excellence and who can show appropriate preparation in courses previously taken. 

Students should be aware that Directed Reading requires careful planning. You must submit a proposal that must be approved by a full-time member of the faculty (who will serve as your faculty mentor) and by the DUS (for CompLit majors).

Ideally, you should consult with your mentor during the term before the proposed independent study, in order to develop a feasible course of study not already offered by the Department. Students not completing a CompLit major will be required to obtain approval by an advisor in (one of) their major(s). You need to design a syllabus that reflects the work involved in a regular course. The syllabus should describe the following: 

  • the content and context of the independent study

  • course objectives

  • course requirements

  • standards for evaluating student

  • schedule for the assignments and deliverables

  • bibliography

A 3-credit Directed Reading should involve at least one hour of student-faculty contact plus an additional 8 hours of work per week. It is also possible to select 1, 2, or 4 credit hours with an appropriate change in your workload. The number of hours enrolled must be agreed upon with the supervising faculty member. Since you will be asking a professor to donate a great deal of extra time and effort beyond their usual teaching load, you should be similarly committed to the course of study. Professors do not normally supervise Directed Readings during terms when they are on leave, nor do they supervise them in areas that fall outside of their area of specialization.

Internships for academic credit

Comparative Literature is one of the most versatile majors you can choose as an undergraduate at Michigan. We understand that a number of our majors receive opportunities to work in various internship placements, especially over the summer months, putting their linguistic training and their skills as writers and speakers to work in placements outside the classroom. Some businesses and organizations that allow internships require that students receive some academic credit for their work (the students are not hired as regular employees of the company). The Department of Comparative Literature will allow students to register for one credit of COMPLIT 498 for an internship, under the following conditions: 

  •  You must be a declared Comparative Literature major, and you cannot receive more than one credit for an internship. This credit cannot be used to fulfill the Department’s program requirements. 

  • You must apply for the internship at least three weeks before beginning your internship, and to receive the credit you must register for COMPLIT 498 with a faculty member in Comparative Literature in the term following your internship (this is typically done in the fall following spring or summer internship work). You are also required to submit a brief (circa 5 pp.) essay describing the kind of work you performed in your internship and talking a bit about what that work meant to you. You should also include contact information for your internship, along with any samples of your work. 

  • We ask that when you have completed your internship, the organization for which you interned also submit a brief letter to the Department describing your work.