The 5-year B.A./M.A. Program in Comparative Literature

The 5-year B.A./M.A. Program in Comparative Literature

The Department of Comparative Literature offers an integrated B.A./M.A. program that is designed to allow academically superior baccalaureate students to obtain both the B.A. and the M.A. degrees in Comparative Literature with five years of study.

The first two years of undergraduate coursework include the University General Education and Liberal Arts requirements in addition to language and literature study in the major. In the third year, you will define areas of interest in two primary literatures in different languages. In addition, you should begin to undertake work in a second foreign language. The fourth year includes graduate level work in methodology and your choice of primary literatures which replaces comparable 400-level senior year courses. The fifth and final year of the program typically consists of graduate work in Comparative Literature courses as well as the chosen literatures. The program culminates with an M.A. paper.

By encouraging greater depth and focus in the course of study beginning in the third undergraduate year, this program will help you more clearly define your area of interest and expertise in the otherwise vast field of international literatures. As a result, long-range academic planning for a doctoral degree at another University or other professional goals will be greatly enhanced.

Admission Requirements

The number of openings in the integrated B.A./M.A. program is limited. Admission will be selective, based on specific criteria and the recommendation of the faculty. Applicants to the integrated program:

  1. Must be enrolled in the Comparative Literature B.A. program
  2. Must have completed 60 credits of the undergraduate degree program when they officially apply for the M.A. (it is strongly suggested that students apply to the program prior to completing 100 credits).
  3. Must be accepted into the M.A. program in Comparative Literature, a process which involves assessment of credentials such as a writing sample and foreign language proficiency as well as the GPA and letters of recommendation.
  4. Should have a recommended overall GPA of at least 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale) in undergraduate coursework and a minimum GPA of 3.5 in all coursework completed for the major.
  5. Must present a departmentally approved plan of study in the application process.
  6. Must be recommended by the chairs of the Department’s undergraduate and graduate committees.


Advising is an important component of the integrated program. Upon acceptance into the program, you will be assigned a faculty advisor whose academic specialty and/or area of research are as closely matched with your interests as possible. In consultation with the faculty advisor, you will develop an individualized plan of study.

One of the advantages of the integrated degree program is the ability to plan early for possible graduate work in a specialized field. Along with your advisor you can choose undergraduate coursework to complement your proposed graduate area. The program will also allow you to enhance your ability to produce high-quality graduate-level work and expand your options, both academic and financial, in pursuing a doctoral program when you leave Penn State. It is important that you keep in regular contact with your faculty advisor.

Degree Provisions and Modifications

  1. Two 500-level courses (one in each of your primary literatures) can replace two 400-level courses which would otherwise be taken in the undergraduate program. It is strongly recommended that these 500-level courses be taken in the fourth year of the undergraduate program. You will apply this M.A. level work to your undergraduate degree program. The B.A./M.A. program, like the current M.A. program, will require 33 credits of graduate work and an M.A. paper.
  2. Comparative Literature 501, which is required in the Comparative Literature M.A. program, may substitute for 40OW, which is the comparable undergraduate requirement.In the integrated program, only CMLIT 501 will be required.
  3. Therefore, nine credits of the M.A. program may be counted towards the B.A. degree, allowing you to complete the M.A. degree in one year following the B.A. degree (including the possibility of summer study).

Sequence of Courses

It is anticipated that you will follow the regular sequence of courses for the major through the first and second years of the major, followed by third and fourth year courses that include some graduate study, which is completed in the fifth year. It is strongly recommended that you fulfill all of your basic undergraduate requirements (for the Comparative Literature major, General Education and Liberal Arts) by the end of the fourth year so that if, for any reason, you do not continue in the integrated program, you will be able to receive your undergraduate degree at that time. Please consult the departmental undergraduate and graduate handbooks for descriptions of Comparative Literature course offerings.

For further guidelines on courses, and a review of the requirements for the B.A./M.A. program, please consult this checklist.

Tuition and Charges

Undergraduate tuition rates apply as long as you are an undergraduate, unless you receive financial support requiring the payment of graduate tuition.


How to Apply

Please visit the Graduate Admissions page.