Comparative Literature

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All academic programs offered at the UM help students develop valuable transferable skills. Comparative Literature is a flexible interdisciplinary program that examines world literatures across national, historical, and linguistic boundaries. Comparative Literature students gain an understanding of comparative methodologies and cross-cultural analysis, and are encouraged to study abroad.

As a concentrator in Comparative Literature, you will study at least one foreign language and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing about literature and other media. Given today’s developments in multiculturalism, trans-nationalism, and globalization, the Comparative Literature concentrator will be particularly well prepared for the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Related fields include International Studies, Communication Studies, Linguistics, History, Screen Arts and Cultures, History of Art, American Culture, Women’s Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, and other programs in Languages and Literatures.


Language Skills

Mastering more than one language
Comparing / contrasting different languages
Perceiving word patterns and structures
Using and recognizing precise language
Producing and evaluating translations

Analytical Skills

Analyzing complex texts from a variety of media
Synthesizing themes from diverse sources
Comparing / contrasting ideas
Using theoretical approaches
Understanding components of complex problems
Offering diverse perspectives

Cross-Cultural / Interpersonal Skills

Understanding and interpreting other cultures / beliefs
Examining a problem from a variety of perspectives
Appreciating similarities /differences among people
Honing sensitivity to others’ viewpoints

Communication Skills

Writing clearly and concisely
Presenting complex information logically
Editing / proofreading materials
Advocating / defending a position
Communicating through print and online media
Assessing the needs of an audience


Employers seek out individuals who can demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills, initiative, and a strong work ethic. Student organizations and campus employment offer valuable opportunities to add to the skills you are developing in your classes. The Comparative Literature Undergraduate Group is one such opportunity and recently launched an online translation magazine, Canon Translation Review. Other options include study abroad, off-campus employment or volunteering in the community. Finally, a summer internship may be the best way of all to test out a career field and develop marketable skills.


Comparative Literature concentrators develop a broad range of skills applicable to a wide range of careers. The interdisciplinary nature of our undergraduate program helps prepare students for opportunities in fields as diverse as law, medicine, journalism, translation, publishing, international relations, marketing, education, public policy, film, and new media. Many concentrators continue their education in graduate or professional programs. The list below is a sample of careers undertaken by Comparative Literature concentrators.

Language Skills

United Nations interpreter
Special collections librarian open book icon
Archivist open book icon
Reading specialist
English as a second language teacher
Adult literacy teacher

Analytical Skills

Public opinion analyst
Urban planner open book icon
Legislative aide
Market research analyst
International lawyer open book icon
College professor open book icon
Historic preservation specialist open book icon

Cross-Cultural/Interpersonal Skills

Advocate for the homeless
Volunteer coordinator, nonprofit
Foreign service officer open book icon
Labor relations specialist
Cross-cultural relations specialist
Counselor / social worker open book icon

Communication Skills

Reporter / columnist
Grant writer
Public relations representative
Freelance writer
Advertising copywriter
Sales representative
K-12 teacher

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For more career information, see O*Net at


Prerequisite: Foreign language proficiency necessary for the study of foreign literature courses at the 300 level or higher.  A minimum of 33 credits is required, as follows:

  • 24 credits: A complementary group of courses in literature (or related fields) at the 300 level or above in at least two languages (one of which may be English), at least 12 credits per language.
  • 6 credits of CL courses at the 200 level or above. CL496-Honors Thesis may be used.
  • The 3 credit capstone senior seminar, CL 495.

For further information, please see the LSA bulletin, or the program website.  A Concentrator’s Handbook is available online under “Undergraduate Resources.”

Department of Comparative Literature
2021 Tisch Hall.

Newnan Advising Center
1255 Angell Hall


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On campus jobs (work-study and non work-study jobs) are listed at:

The Maize Pages list hundreds of organizations for students to get involved in:

The Career Center
3200 Student Activities Building

The Career Guide series was developed by the University of Michigan Career Center, Division of Student Affairs, in cooperation with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. ©2011 Regents of the University of Michigan