Majors and Minors

Majors and Minors

The Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature

A B.A. degree in Comparative Literature requires 36 credits. The requirement includes both Core Courses (12 credits) and Supporting Courses and Related Areas (24 credits).

Major in Comparative Literature

The Major in Comparative Literature (36 credits total) has two parts:

Part 1: CORE COURSES in world literature, methodology, and theory (12 credits):

  1. CMLIT 10: World Literatures.
  2. CMLIT 100: Reading Across Cultures.
  3. *CMLIT  400Y: Seminar in Literary Criticism and Theory (*typically offered Fall semester only).
  4. Another 400-level CMLIT class of any kind.


24 credits (eight 3-credit classes) made up of a combination of the next two categories, at least HALF (four 3-credit classes) of which need to be at the 400 level or above (e.g. a grad seminar if applicable).

  1. Concentration: (as few as 6 credits or as many as 18)

Language concentration: 2-6 language courses (6-18 credits in the study of a single world language and/or literature beyond  the 003 level)


Student-designed Thematic Concentration: students select 2-6 CMLIT courses (6-18 credits), 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.

  1.  Additional Courses, Literature & Culture: (as few as 6 credits or as many as 18)

2-6 additional literature courses of any kind. Up to 12 credits can be in a department other than CMLIT. Up to 18 credits may be taken as courses offered through an Education Abroad program with departmental approval.

(section 5 + section 6 = 24 credits, with at least 12 of those credits at the 400 level).

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).

Integrated 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 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.