Instructions for Applying

Thank you for your interest in the UCLA Department of Comparative Literature’s graduate program. The Department admits students to its Ph.D. cohort for the Fall Quarter annually. Admitted students are not permitted to defer their offers of admission.

The Application for UCLA Graduate Admissions is only available online. Applicants must ensure that their complete application dossier is received by the December 4, 2020 deadline. Admissions decisions are released on a rolling basis beginning in late February. The Department typically receives 70-80 applications each year, of which 8 applicants are offered admission. Entering cohorts usually total 4-6 students.

Applicants can find more information on the UCLA graduate admission process through the Graduate Division website, along with helpful FAQs.


A bachelor’s degree in literature, ancient or modern, is a prerequisite for admission to the Ph.D. in Comparative Literature program. Applicants whose B.A. program lacks a literature major are required to demonstrate the equivalent knowledge and comprehension of one literature.. Applicants are expected to earn a minimum 3.4 grade-point average (GPA) in their upper division literature courses.

Applicants must also demonstrate literary proficiency in one language other than English, and should possess elementary knowledge of a second language.


Statement of Purpose

A statement of purpose, up to 500 words in length, which details your background, intellectual interests, and research plans. Please describe how the doctoral program will further your immediate and long-range goals. Autobiographical material can be useful where clearly relevant.

Personal Statement

A personal statement, up to 500 words in length, is an opportunity for you to provide additional information that may aid the selection committee in evaluating your preparation and aptitude for graduate study at UCLA. It will also be used to consider candidates for the Cota-Robles and Graduate Opportunity fellowships (applicants should be sure to describe their contributions to diversity). Prompts for this statement can be found within the application.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants must request three (3) letters of recommendation from scholars who can address the applicant’s intellectual qualifications, with particular attention to literature and languages. Recommenders will receive an email request with instructions for submitting their letters. All letters of recommendation must be submitted online by the December 4, 2020 application deadline.

Test Scores

Students who wish to apply for admission to our graduate program for the 2021-2022 academic year are not required to take the GRE or submit a GRE score report as part of their application package. However, students may voluntarily submit GRE test scores and they will be reviewed as part of the holistic application consideration. The applications with GRE scores will not be given greater weight than those that do not include scores.  We do not require the subject test portion of the GRE.  Applicants submitting their GRE score should plan to take the GRE no later than October or November. Applicants who live outside of the United States can  find test center and date information on the ETS website.  Scores are valid for five years following your test date.

The GRE institution code is 4837; the Department/Major Field code is 2902.

Applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s or higher degree from a university located in the United States or in another country in which English is both the primary spoken language of daily life and the medium of instruction are REQUIRED to submit valid Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores to verify their English language proficiency.

You are encouraged to earn a minimum TOEFL score of 87 on the Internet-based test (iBT) or 560 on the paper and pencil test. Applicants who elect to take the IELTS must earn an overall band score of at least 7.0 to qualify for admission.


Applicants must upload unofficial transcripts from each academic institution attended on the online application. Applicants to whom the Department extends an offer of admission will need to send sealed official transcripts bearing the actual signature of the Registrar and the seal of the issuing institution directly to the department:

UCLA Department of Comparative Literature
350B Kaplan Hall, Box 951536
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1536

Writing Sample

Applicants must submit a research paper or other piece of writing (no more than 15 pages in length) in literature. Please do not submit your entire thesis. Please do not submit more than one paper. Extra papers are not considered during the faculty’s review. This part of the dossier is very important, and is often given more weight in admissions decisions about admissibility than anything else, since it (potentially) provides evidence of the ability to pursue original research in the field. Applicant files will not be considered complete if a research paper is not included.

Supplemental Application: Language Proficiency

Applicants to the Ph.D. in Comparative Literature program must complete the Comparative Literature Supplemental Application section on the online application for graduate admission. This section requires applicants to disclose their native language and indicate their reading, writing, and speaking proficiency in up to three (3) additional languages. Your application is considered incomplete if you do not provide this information.