English and Comparative Literature, PhD

Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Denise Cruz
Director of Graduate Studies: Austin Graham
Website: english.columbia.edu
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD Full-Time/Part-Time: Free-Standing MA

The Department of English and Comparative Literature has played a significant role in the history of literary study in the United States and abroad since its inception. With a large faculty of renowned scholars and dedicated teachers, the  department offers a wide range of courses in traditional and emerging fields of literary and cultural study.

Students may apply still for the free-standing MA program.  Students should not apply to the free-standing program if they wish to advance beyond the MA in the English and Comparative Literature department at Columbia: the free-standing program is terminal. 

In the MA year, students take eight courses, which must include the Master’s Seminar. MA students must also complete the Master’s Essay and demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language. No advanced standing will be granted toward the MA for graduate work completed at other institutions. All sequential students are evaluated at the conclusion of the first year in order to be recommended to continue to MPhil studies. To complete the MPhil, sequential students take six more courses and fulfill a second language requirement before taking the oral examination in preparation for beginning work on the PhD dissertation. Students are expected to finish the PhD within six years of their initial enrollment as an MA candidate.

All students in the doctoral program receive full financial support through year six as long as they make satisfactory progress. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of PhD students. Thus, graduate fellowships include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

For a more detailed description of the program and current information on courses, faculty, and any changes in requirements, see the department’s home page.

Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) awards a certificate in Comparative Literature and Society. For more information, see the ICLS website.

Special Admissions Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a personal statement, and three letters of evaluation from academic sources.

Application Requirements

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.