Requirements for MA Program


The M.A. requires 30 coursework credits, or a minimum of ten courses. Specific requirements are as follows:

1. Coursework.

(6) Six credit hours in 6390 and 6391 (two courses). Both courses must be taken in first year.

(6) Six additional credit hours at 5000 level or above in any department (two courses)

(15) Fifteen additional credits at 6000 level or above (five courses), including:

(9) Nine credits in Comparative Studies (3 courses), including at least one course (3 credits) at the 7000 level

(6) Six credits in any department (2 classes)

*(3) Three credits in Comparative Studies 7999: Research for Thesis

*Students who are not taking a terminal M.A. or writing an M.A. thesis may instead take either an additional (3) Credits in coursework or (3) three credits in Comparative Studies 8193 Individual Studies

Cross‐listed courses may count in any department cross‐listing the course, regardless of where the student is enrolled.

In consultation with their advisor, students may petition to have more than two 5000 level courses be included as required coursework. In submitting a brief written rationale, students will need to demonstrate: 1) the 5000 level course contributes to their research and fields of study; 2) the course either already includes material and requirements for graduate students or, in consultation with the instructor, establishes a course syllabus that includes graduate level work; and 3) the course material cannot be found in another class 6000 level or above the student can take.

No more than 3 hours of non‐graded (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) coursework (ordinarily taken as independent study) may count toward the M.A. degree.

All Comparative Studies Individual Studies (“Independent Study” CS 7193/CS 8193) courses must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. Students will submit a copy of agreement between student and faculty member supervising the Individual Study outlining goals, expected readings and assignments, and number of meetings in advance of the semester.

2. Language Requirement

Foreign languages play a prominent role in a department of Comparative Studies and the research undertaken by both faculty and students. Both MA and PhD students are thus required to demonstrate reading competence in a language other than English. The department has no list of approved scholarly languages. But it expects students to read a language pertinent to their own research and to forms of scholarly writing in their field. A student may petition the Graduate Studies Committee to have a language accepted that is not taught at OSU.

Typically, the requirement is fulfilled by asking students to translate a piece of scholarly writing in their own field of research (with the help of a dictionary). The course requirement is not about the number of years one must take to study a language but about the level of competence required to read a language in a given field.

It should be noted that some scholarly and (inter)disciplinary fields require knowledge of specific languages, while others are open to a wider range of possible languages. At the same time, the language requirement for both MA and PhD students is distinct from the languages a student might need for their MA thesis or PhD exams and dissertation, which may require much greater proficiency than the language requirement. Likewise, language proficiency might include not just a specific national/literary/spoken language but another language based on the scholarship in a given field or discipline. Students are encouraged to speak with their advisors regarding the language requirements suited to their research. The student’s advisor and candidacy or dissertation committee will determine whether a student’s language requirement may be fulfilled by showing competence in one or two languages other than English.

The language requirement should be fulfilled within the first two years of taking classes (i.e.before the MA thesis or PhD Candidacy Exams).

All students completing the M.A. in Comparative Studies must demonstrate competence in at least one language other than English by the end of their fourth semester. This requirement must be met in one of the following ways:

1. by receiving a minimum grade of "B" in a 6000‐level or higher course taught in a language other than English

2. by receiving a minimum grade of “B” in a graduate level course that certifies ability to read with the use of a dictionary;

3. by passing a proficiency examination administered by the appropriate language department;

4. by petitioning the Advisor and Graduate Studies Committee to consider other evidence of competence, for example, an undergraduate major or minor in a foreign language.

Courses below the 5000 level taken to fulfill the language requirement are not counted toward the degree.

3. Advisors or Co‐Advisors

Students planning to complete the terminal M.A. must choose at least one academic adviser from the core Graduate Faculty in the Department of Comparative Studies by the end of the first year. Students in the M.A./Ph.D. program must select at least one academic advisor from the core Graduate Faculty in the Department of Comparative Studies by the end of their third semester. Core faculty are appointed in Comparative Studies for at least 25% of their tenure line. The Graduate Studies Chair or a designated member of the Graduate Studies Committee will serve as adviser for incoming students until they have chosen an adviser. The chosen adviser or co‐advisers serve as Chair or Co‐Chairs of the Master’s Defense Committee.

4. End‐of‐Master’s‐Degree Decision.

By November 30th of the student’s third semester in the M.A. program, in consultation with their advisor the student must submit:

1. A statement of purpose (not to exceed five double‐spaced pages) that describes a potential dissertation project or specified areas of study. The new statement of purpose should represent the opportunity for the student to demonstrate their ability to build on their MA work and to sketch with some precision the next step in his or her intellectual progress. At the same time, it allows the faculty to assess the student’s preparation for advanced graduate work and the fit between the student’s needs and the faculty’s expertise;

2. A letter of recommendation from their advisor

3. Letter or e‐mail from another faculty member in Comparative Studies or another department at the annual review meeting. A letter or e‐mail by a non‐core faculty whose input the student would like to solicit should only be solicited when the student has had extensive intellectual interaction with a non‐core faculty member.

4. A current advising report

Permission to continue to the PhD program will depend upon the student’s satisfactory progress toward the M.A. degree and suitability for the PhD program. Permission to continue will be granted with the approval of the student’s advisor and the Graduate Studies Committee, based on a review of required materials (see PhD Requirements section for materials required).

Students approved to continue to the PhD program may either:

1. complete the M.A., ordinarily by the end of the third semester in the program upon completion of all coursework and thesis (or non‐thesis) defense. Students choosing a thesis/non‐thesis option will be awarded M.A. at that time.

2. Complete coursework for the PhD and be awarded the M.A. degree upon successful completion of Doctoral Candidacy exams.

Students who are not given approval to continue to the PhD program can opt to complete the terminal M.A. degree, and can do so by completing either the Thesis or the Non‐Thesis option.

5. Terminal M.A.

Students seeking a terminal M.A. should choose between the thesis or non‐thesis option in consultation with their advisor and their committee.

  • Thesis Option: Students, under the supervision of their advisor, write a thesis of around 30‐60 pages that is based on substantial research and makes an original contribution to scholarship.
  • Non‐thesis Option: Students who do not wish to complete a Master’s thesis can choose between these two non‐thesis options
    • Exam: a four‐hour written exam that demonstrates advanced knowledge of the field, including at least one question from each of two faculty advisors.
    • Substantial written paper: a paper of publishable length and substance that demonstrates advanced knowledge of the field written under the guidance of at least one faculty advisor and two committee members who meet with the student to discuss the paper's development as it is being written and who then agree upon its readiness for publication.

All students in the terminal M.A. will also successfully defend their work in a two hour oral exam to complete the degree.

6. Master’s Thesis/Non‐thesis Committee

In addition to the adviser or co‐advisers, at least one other MA committee member must be a member of the core Graduate Faculty in the Department of Comparative Studies. The full committee should consist of three faculty members with graduate faculty standing, and should be identified as the thesis is being prepared.

7. Continuation to PhD

Students who continue to the PhD and have not chosen to receive their M.A. via the methods described above will be awarded the M.A. upon successful completion of the PhD candidacy exam.

8. Progress toward Degree.

Students with GTA appointments will generally take 9 credit hours or three classes each semester and complete the M.A. within three to four semesters.

Students on fellowship must take 12 credits per semester and 6 credits in summer, completing the M.A. within twelve months.

Continuation in the program is contingent upon sufficient progress toward completion. Progress will be reviewed annually in two steps: first, student reviews progress with faculty advisor and/or committee following annual review guidelines; second, the entire graduate faculty meet to review reports from faculty regarding their advisees. If, at any time during the annual review, advisors or faculty determine that sufficient progress has not been made, the advisor and the student will draft an agreement as to what constitutes sufficient progress to continue in the program for the subsequent semester. Failure to comply with the agreement may result in the student’s discontinuation in the program.

See also Section VI of the Graduate School Handbook.

Sample MAPS to MA in Comparative Studies for Students Entering with a BA in a Humanities, Social Science, or Interdisciplinary Field

Year One

6390 + 6391

6 credits in Dept

6 credits outside Dept

Year Two

6 credits in Dept

3 credit outside Dept

9 credits Candidacy

(6) Six credit hours in 6390 and 6391 (two courses). Both courses must be taken in first year.

(6) Six additional credit hours at 5000 level or above in any department (two courses)

(15) Fifteen additional credits at 6000 level or above (five courses), including:

(9) Nine credits in Comparative Studies (3 courses), including (3) three credits at 7000 level or above

(6) Six credits in any department (2 classes)

*(3) Three credits in Comparative Studies 7999: Research for Thesis

Year One:

  • Semester one: 3 courses (9 credit hours)
  • Semester two: 3 courses (9 credit hours)
  • (Summer Session: Fulfill language requirement if needed)

Year Two:

  • Semester three: 3 courses (9 credit hours)
  • Semester four: 1 course (3 credit hours); complete MA thesis in Comparative Studies (6 credit hours)

TOTAL: 81 credit hours

Typical Course distribution

Required courses:

  • CS 6390 Approaches to Comparative Cultural Studies I (3 credits)
  • CS 6391 Approaches to Comparative Cultural Studies II (3 credits)

Department Courses: Minimum nine courses (27 credits; can be more)

Courses outside the department: Maximum eight courses (24 credits; can be less) Total Coursework hours required: 54 credits

Directed readings, research work, prospectus, MA thesis, teaching apprenticeship: 21 credits Dissertation work: 6 credits

TOTAL: 81 credits hours