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Majors and Minors

The Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature

A B.A. degree in Comparative Literature requires 36 credits, of which 6 may be double-counted with your General Education requirements, one course in GH and one course in GA. The requirement has both Core Courses (9 credits) and Supporting Courses and Related Areas (27 credits).

CORE COURSES in world literature, methodology, and theory (9 credits)

  • CMLIT 010: World Literatures
  • CMLIT 100: Reading Across Cultures
  • CMLIT 400Y: Senior Seminar in Literary Theory and Criticism



(Students must choose 27 credits from sections A, B, and C., including at least 15 credits at the 400 level.)

A. Concentration, 6-18 credits. Students choose one of the following concentrations (Sem: 1-8):

  (1) Language Concentration: students select 6-18 credits in the study of a single world language and/or literature beyond the 12th credit level; see department list.


  (2) Student-designed Thematic Concentration: students select 6-18 credits of CMLIT courses, in consultation with their advisor, organized around a theme they devise, subject to their advisor's approval of a 1-page academic plan in which they explain their theme and the courses that fit into that theme.

B. Literatures: select at least 6-18 credits in courses on literature. Up to 12 of these credits can be taken through departments other than Comparative Literature. Up to 18 credits may be taken as courses offered through an Education Abroad program with departmental approval. (Sem: 1-8)

C. 3 credits in Comparative Literature at the 400 level. (Sem: 4-8)

Integrated B.A./M.A. Program in Comparative Literature (CMLIT)

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 within 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, students are expected to define areas of interest in two primary literatures in different languages. In addition, students in the B.A./M.A. program should begin to undertake work in a second foreign language. The fourth year includes graduate-level work in methodology and the student's selection 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 students more clearly define their area of interest and expertise in the otherwise vast field of international literatures. As a result, long-range academic planning for exceptional students pursuing doctoral degrees after leaving Penn State, or other professional goals, will be greatly enhanced. The student may also be more competitive in applying for admission to Ph.D. programs as well as for institutional and national grant monies and scholarships.

Minor in World Literature

The World Literature minor requires 18 credits.

1. Core courses in world literature, methodology, and theory (6 credits)

  • CMLIT 010: World Literatures OR CMLIT 100: Reading Across Cultures
  • CMLIT 400Y: Senior Seminar in Literary Theory and Criticism (typically offered in the fall)
Supporting courses in comparative literature (12 credits)
Take any four additional CMLIT courses; including at least 3 credits must be at the 400 level. Supporting courses in comparative literature should shape a coherent program focused on a region of the world (Asia; Africa; Europe; the Americas), a historical period (medieval; the 19th century), a particular literary form (drama; the novel, poetry), or a specific theme (detective fiction; women writers; transnational identities; literature and the arts; and so on).