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Degree Requirements


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The major in Comparative Literature requires students to complete the language skills necessary for the study of literature courses in a second language.

Major Program. Students are required to complete a minimum of 33 credits, according to the following plan. 100-level courses do not count toward the major.

  • 30 credits. A complementary grouping of literature courses. Students will combine COMPLIT courses with other elective courses in relevant departments and related fields chosen from the list of pre-approved courses OR to be chosen in consultation with and approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies, including
    • At least 9 credits of 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.
    • at least 12 credits in a second language
    • An additional 9 credits in Comp Lit or other relevant departments. See the list of pre-approved courses and the “Selecting courses in other departments” section below.
  • 3 credits. The senior seminar, COMPLIT 495, is required for all students in the major.


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 requirements by taking at least 12 credits in a second language.  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.  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. A list of pre-approved courses can be found here

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.

Directed 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.