MA in Comparative Literature

Student reading laptop in chair under tree.

Students in the Comparative Literature MA program at UB can expect to enter into a rigorous and robust graduate community composed of students from a variety of personal and academic backgrounds. Despite the relatively small-size of the program, students currently enrolled at UB engage in a variety historically-grounded and cutting-edge research programs. 

The MA program prepares students for a wide-range of careers as well as for advanced graduate study and boasts a very strong placement record. Beyond their coursework obligations, MA students may also participate in the graduate community at UB, including the Just Theory Lecture Series and Theory@Buffalo, an academic journal housed within the Department of Comparative Literature at UB.

Degree Requirements

MA in Comparative Literature (30 credits) 
9 Intensive (A) seminars (5 of which must be taught by COL Core Faculty)
3 credits Masters Project Guidance (COL 598) 
Master’s Project (approximately 50 – 100 pages) 
Minimum of 30 credit hours

The above information is provided as a guide. Requirements may vary. Please see the Department Director of Graduate Studies, or your advisor for information tailored to your situation.


MA students must complete a minimum of nine intensive seminars (5 of which must be taught by COL Core Faculty) and at least three credit hours of Masters Project Guidance (COL 598). Students are encouraged to enroll in at least two courses devoted to national literatures other than English with the reading conducted in the national language.


Applicants must show good reading knowledge of at least one foreign language upon admission, as demonstrated by advanced literary study at the undergraduate level or by language examinations furnished by the department.

Final Project

After completion of the required coursework, normally at the end of two years, students will have a choice of either completing an MA thesis project or taking an oral comprehensive examination. The project will involve original research, employ scholarly apparatus, and be between 50 and 75 pages in length. The project is read and approved by the director who must be a member of the core faculty in COL.

The MA comprehensive exam has a similar format to the PhD qualifying examination, but the reading list is significantly shorter and the theoretical framework appropriately limited. For this oral examination, students may choose three predesignated areas of study: 1. Period; 2. Genre/ Author; 3. Theoretical approach. The lists of works to be covered for each area must contain a minimum of fifteen books (compared to a minimum of twenty for the PhD oral exam). The areas of study and the three-person committee are chosen with the approval of the director of graduate studies, and the reading lists require the approval of both the individual committee members and the director of graduate studies. Students will be able to substitute the existing preliminary examination for the PhD for either the MA project or the MA comprehensive oral exam, but not vice versa. Neither the MA project nor the MA comprehensive exam can be substituted for the PhD preliminary examination. 

Degree Completion Timeline (Full-time MA, self-funded)

First Year Second Year

First Semester

  • 3 “Intensive” seminars
    *STARTING FALL 2023: 1 of the 3 Intensive Seminars must be COL 580 "Introduction to Theory"
  • 1 “Extensive” seminar

12 credit hrs

Second Semester

  • 3 “Intensive” seminars
  • 1 “Extensive” seminar

12 credit hrs (24 cumulative total)


Application Deadline

The preferred deadline for MA applications is December 15


Sameera Abbas, PhD Student, GSA President (2022-2023)

For application and other administrative questions please contact: Mary Ann Carrick

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