Comparative Literature, Ph.D.


Applicants should have a minimum 3.00 GPA in their undergraduate major and 3.50 GPA in graduate course work. They should have minimum GRE scores of 500/153 on the verbal section and 4 on the analytical section (or scores of 400/146 and 3.5, respectively, for non-native English speakers). An applicant whose native language is not English is required to submit a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 80 (iBT), or 570 (paper-based). The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IETLS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5. Applicants are asked to submit a writing sample of 3,000 words and a statement of purpose (300 words maximum).

Application Procedure

  • Students are invited to go to the Graduate School site and apply online. Paper applications are no longer available. All material should be sent to the graduate school in one packet. This material includes the following:
    • 3 letters of recommendation from instructors familiar with the student academic work, each sent in a sealed official envelope with the recommender’s signature across the seal
    • an undergraduate transcript
    • a 250 word statement of purpose: explain the connection between USC’s programs and your personal goals
    • a writing sample (in the relevant language; English for non-natives of the English language) of between 1000 and 2500 words. This could be a paper written for an undergraduate course or an essay prepared specifically for the application.
  • A five-minute sample of your spoken French, German, or Spanish is required of non-native speakers. Non-natives of English must also demonstrate proficiency in this language by a speech sample. The speech sample should be saved as an mp3 file on a CD.
  • Applicants who wish to be considered for an assistantship must apply by January 15.
  • Candidates who do not wish to request financial assistance should complete the application process no later than June 1.
  • Applications submitted to the Department after June 1 will not be processed for the Fall semester but for the following Spring.

Degree Requirements (30 Post-Masters Hours)

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree are required to take 63-66 graduate hours beyond the baccalaureate degree (30 - 33 graduate hours beyond the master’s degree), including graduate-level course work in at least one foreign language, and demonstrate reading knowledge in two foreign languages. Each candidate must study three or more national literatures, although students may substitute an outside area for their third literature with the approval of the graduate director. Each student will pass a three-hour qualifying examination in two equal parts: an essay on literary theory and an explication of a passage in the student’s first foreign literature. The comprehensive examination will consist of three two-hour written exams on each of three reading lists that the student will draw up in conjunction with the committee, followed by a one-hour oral exam. Students whose first literature is not English may write one of their essays in the language of that literature. Each student will write a dissertation on a topic chosen in conjunction with the committee and the graduate director.

Comparative Literature (15 Hours)

5 graduate courses to include the following:

Course Title Credits
CPLT 701Classics of Western Literary Theory3
CPLT 702Modern Literary Theory3
CPLT 703Topics in Contemporary Literary Theory3
Select two more CPLT Graduate courses6
Total Credit Hours15

Primary Literature (18 Hours)

Course Title Credits
Select six graduate courses18
Total Credit Hours18

Second Literature (12 Hours)

Course Title Credits
Select four graduate courses12
Total Credit Hours12

Third Literature (6 Hours)

Course Title Credits
Select two graduate courses6
Total Credit Hours6

Foreign Languages (3 Hours)

Required of all graduate teaching assistants.

Course Title Credits
FORL 776The Teaching of Foreign Languages in College3
Total Credit Hours3

Dissertation (12 Hours)

Note: Requests for further information should be addressed to:

Comparative Literature Program
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208