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Application Info and Deadlines

New students are offered admission into the graduate program beginning fall term only.  Applications open in early September and must be completed by December 15, 2021.

The application process for the graduate program in Comparative Literature is administered by the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. You should consult Rackham’s website for Rackham-specific admissions requirements. Once your application is submitted, our department will have access to view your materials for review by the Admissions Committee.

The Department does not require a separate application for fellowships administered by the Department.  However, other forms of aid — other fellowships, work/study, and student loans — will require separate applications and other financial statements. Consult the web pages of the Office of Financial Aid.

You must submit the application and all other required materials by December 15  to be considered for admission to the graduate program for the following academic year. Incomplete and late applications will be considered whenever possible, but in most years decisions are made shortly after the deadline. The Department admits new graduate students for entrance only in September. All decisions are made by March 15 and you will be able to see in Wolverine Access (in the New and & Prospective Student Center) that decisions have been made. Admitted and wait-listed students will be contacted directly via phone or email. All others will receive notification via email.

To apply to the Ph.D. program, please fill out an application online. Whatever you submit online will then be available to both the Department and the Rackham Admissions Office and so will not have to be submitted by mail (with the exception of one set of official transcripts which must be sent to Rackham, please see item #7 under Application Requirements, below).

Rackham program code for Comparative Literature:
Ph.D. program: 00140

Application Requirements

The following materials are required for consideration to the Ph.D. program. You should submit all materials by uploading them into your online application. All materials are due on December 15

Please note that you are responsible for the submission of a complete application.  You will be able to keep track of which materials for your application have arrived and which ones are still outstanding by consulting your Web Application Status page in Wolverine Access (in the New and & Prospective Student Center).

  1. Completed Rackham application
  2. Three letters of recommendation - Please make sure that you register three recommenders when you fill out the online application even if you don’t yet know who the third will be.  If you only enter one or two and click submit you will be unable to go in the ApplyWeb system and enter a third later.  We recommend that you enter a placeholder name which you will be able to go in and make a change later.  Information on changing recommenders or resending requests can be found here
  3. Statement of Purpose - The statement should be about 500 words long and should delineate your intellectual trajectory, your scholarly plans and general interests in the humanities, as well as the reasons for choosing to apply to the PhD program in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan. This statement should also include an indication of the fields to be studied, e.g., major field: French; minor field: Women's Studies. 
  4. Personal Statement - Please use this statement to help us understand how you have come to be interested in Comparative Literature, what special challenges you might have faced, what relevant experiences you might have had, and what aspirations you have for the future. 
  5. Curriculum Vitae/Resume. 
  6. Writing Samples. Two essays (e.g. papers written for courses) - One should be a critical essay written in English (15-25 pages) and one should be an essay written in another language to demonstrate language proficiency (10-25 pages; this may be your translation of an essay that you originally wrote in English; an essay related to ancient languages may also be written in English as long as it demonstrates detailed engagement with that language.) We expect the writing samples to be critical essays written by the candidate. Literary translations of a work by another author (novel, poetry, etc) do not count as writing samples unless they are accompanied by a substantial critical introduction and theoretical reflection on the translation.
  7. GRE scores are not required.  Scores sent to U-M will NOT be reviewed by CompLit the admissions committee.  
  8. Transcripts – Upload an electronic version of your transcript(s) for each Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional, or Doctoral degree earned or in progress through your ApplyWeb application account. If you are attending or have graduated from a Non-U.S. institution, review the Required Academic Credentials from Non-U.S. Institutions for requirements by country.  If you are recommended for admission, the Rackham Graduate School will require official transcript(s). Recommended applicants will receive an email notification when the official transcript(s) are required for submission.  


International Students Only

If you received a degree from a non-US institution, be prepared to send:

If your first language is not English, please send one of these scores:


Please consult the Instructions for First Time Enrollee Applicants Whose Native Language Is Not English

Application Fee Waiver

Fee waiver applicants should first review the guidelines and instructions for Rackham’s Application Fee Waiver.  If you meet the criteria for the Rackham Fee Waiver, you must complete Rackham’s waiver application before submitting a request to Comparative Literature.

Please review the following criteria and complete the form below if you qualify. Fee waivers are limited and are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Application Fee Waiver Criteria:

  1. A record of superior academic achievement (demonstrated by unofficial transcript);
  2. The application fee poses a financial hardship; 
  3. AND you must meet one or more of the following:
  • Come from an educational, cultural or geographic background that is underrepresented in graduate study in your discipline;
  • Have demonstrated a commitment to diversity in the academic, professional, or civic realm through your work experience, volunteer engagement, or leadership of a student or community organization. By diversity, we mean efforts to reduce social, educational or economic disparities based on race, caste, ethnicity or gender;
  • Are a first-generation U.S. citizen;
  • Are the first generation in your family to graduate from a four-year college.

Apply for a Fee Waiver

Please keep in mind that race, caste, ethnicity, gender, or national origin may not be used a criteria for requesting an application fee waiver.