The beginning of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University can be traced back to 1951 when Professor Kenneth Abbott of the Classics Department launched a new program in Comparative Literature and developed a three course sequence of Comparative Literature courses. After this sequence of courses began to rise in popularity, the Division of Comparative Literature was established in 1963. Eventually the focus of the division started to veer away from the traditional discipline of Comparative Literature and the popularity of Comparative Literature courses began to decline. Under the direction of Marilyn Waldman, the Division became the Center for Comparative Studies in the Humanities in 1980 and became focused on broad interdisciplinary study. In 1984 the Center began offering an undergraduate major in Religious Studies. From 1984-1994 the Center offered a Masters of Liberal Studies Degree, advising students mostly from the Arabic and Women’s Studies Departments. In 1990 The Center for Comparative Studies in the Humanities became the Division of Comparative Studies in the Humanities, becoming a tenure-granting unit at the university.
The Division began offering an MA in Comparative Studies in 1994, a graduate program the Department still offers in addition to a Ph.D. program in Comparative Studies added in 2003. In January 1998, the Division began offering a BA in Comparative Studies with 5 concentrations—religious studies, comparative literature, folklore, science studies, and cross cultural studies. Minor programs in Latina/o Studies and Asian American Studies began in 2000.
The Division became the Department of Comparative Studies in 2001. That year, a concentration in Comparative Ethnic Studies was developed for the BA in Comparative Studies program. In subsequent years this became what is now the concentration in Ethnic and American Studies. Currently, in addition to the MA and PhD, the department offers a BA degree in Comparative Studies where students can concentrate in Ethnic and American Studies, Comparative Cultural Studies, Folklore, Comparative Literature, or Science and Technology Studies. Additionally, the Department offers BA degrees in Religious Studies and World Literature.