Requirements for MA Program


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

6 credits COMPSTD 6100/6200/6300/6400
Critical Foundations sequence
Choice of two classes (taken in first year)

3 credits COMPSTD 6500 Teaching Seminar (offered every other year)

12 credits 7000-8000 level
Including 6 credits in COMPSTD 8100/8200 Interdisciplinary Learning Lab (two-semester sequence)
and including 6 credits in Comparative Studies at the 7000-8000 level

6 credits 5000-8000 level in any department
Limit of one course at the 5000-level; see Section 6.1.1 below for more information

3 credits COMPSTD 7999 Thesis
Students who are not taking a terminal M.A. or writing an M.A. thesis may instead take an additional 3 credits in coursework at the 5000-8000 level

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

A limit of one 5000-level course will typically count toward required coursework. In consultation with their advisor, students may petition to have no more than two 5000-level courses be included as required coursework. In submitting a brief written rationale, students will need to demonstrate that: 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 that they have, in consultation with the instructor, established a course syllabus that includes graduate level work; and 3) the course material cannot be found in another class 6000-level or above that 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. It is highly recommended that this option be used strategically to maintain progress towards degree. The Independent Study option and credits are not related to non-graded 7000-level hours taken as thesis hours. All Comparative Studies Independent Study (COMPSTD 7193/8193) 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 beginning of the semester.    


Foreign languages play a prominent role in a department of Comparative Studies and the research undertaken by both faculty and students. Both M.A. and Ph.D. 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 M.A. and Ph.D. students is distinct from the languages a student might need for their M.A. thesis or Ph.D. 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 M.A. thesis or Ph.D. 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:

  • By receiving a minimum grade of "B" in a 6000‐level or higher course taught in a language other than English;
  • By receiving a minimum grade of "B" in a graduate-level course that certifies ability to read with the use of a dictionary;
  • By passing a proficiency examination administered by the appropriate language department;
  • 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.


Students planning to complete the terminal M.A. must choose at least one academic advisor 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 advisor for incoming students until they have chosen an adviser. The chosen advisor or co‐advisors serve as Chair or Co‐Chairs of the Master’s Defense Committee.


Students are expected to participate in department and university workshops designed to prepare them for professional life after graduation.


Students already in the M.A. in Comparative Studies program may continue beyond the M.A. only upon the recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee and the approval of the core faculty. To apply for continuation in the following year, M.A. students must submit:

  • A statement of purpose (1-2 pages, single space) outlining their research plans, specified areas of study, including a sense of the disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields in which the student is working, a potential dissertation project, a timeline for completion of the Ph.D., and any potential plans for careers after graduation
  • A current Advising Report
  • A CV
  • A written statement from their faculty advisor as well as from a second faculty member (which may include external faculty from another department).

Students seeking to transition into the Ph.D. program must meet with their advisors to discuss their statement of purpose, plans to build from their M.A. work, preparation for advanced graduate work, and the fit between their needs and the advisor’s areas of expertise. They are encouraged to draft the proposal and solicit recommendations well in advance of the deadline.

Advisors do not need to write a letter of recommendation, but their statement should address the student’s statement of purpose and their ability to build on their M.A. work, the student’s preparation for advanced graduate work, and the fit between the student’s needs and the faculty’s expertise. They will also be expected to discuss the student’s transition into the Ph.D. program at the faculty meeting devoted to admissions for the coming year.

All documents should be submitted to the Graduate Studies Chair for circulation to the Graduate Studies Committee by November 30.

Students who continue to the PhD and choose not to complete their M.A. via the methods described below will be awarded the M.A. upon successful completion of the Ph.D. candidacy examination.


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. must also successfully defend their work in a two-hour oral exam in order to complete the degree.


The full master's committee should consist of three faculty members with graduate faculty standing; in addition to the advisor or co‐advisor, at least one other M.A. committee member must be a member of the core Graduate Faculty in the Department of Comparative Studies. The members of the committee should be identified as the thesis or substantial written paper is being prepared, or before the student begins preparing for the final exam.  


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.