Prospective Students

The undergraduate program in Comparative Literature at Harvard prepares students to play an active and creative role in today’s globalized world by exploring literature and culture across languages, and investigating the intersections and inter-connections among literatures, cultures, media, and disciplines.

Students in Comparative Literature design a course of study tailored to their particular interests, and work in languages as diverse as English and German, French and Hindi, Spanish and Arabic, Chinese and Latin.  Some students have fluency in their foreign language(s) of choice when they join the program, while others develop their linguistic fluency as they pursue their studies in the concentration. Comp Lit concentrators can connect their literary studies with broader interests in the Humanities, such as film, digital media, and music.  They can also incorporate their literary studies into their interests in other fields, such as law, medicine, and the environment. Many of our students bring a comparative disciplinary element into their program of studies (literature and gender studies; literature and philosophy; literature and government), while others pursue a joint concentration directly.

In short, the Comparative Literature Concentration provides an ideal home for students who wish to craft a comparative and interdisciplinary concentration that is embedded in the Humanities but has the potential to reach beyond.

How to Learn about Life in Comparative Literature

The Fall 2020 Guide


There are various opportunities for prospective concentrators to discover what life in Comparative Literature is all about:

  • Check in with one of our concentration peer advisors for the inside scoop on concentrating in Comp Lit at any time.  They are happy to meet with you.
  • Sign up for a conversation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Sandra Naddaff, at one of the following times:
  1. Make an appointment with Dr. Naddaff at any time by emailing her at
  2. On Wednesdays; 3-4:30pm Eastern time during her regular office hours.  Sign up here.
  3. On Tuesday, October 20, from 9-10am Eastern time for drop-in office hours. Zoom link info
  4. On Monday, November 9, from 11am-noon Eastern time for drop-in office hours. Zoom link info
  • Meet up with current concentrators for “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Concentrating in Comp Lit: The True Story” on Monday, October 26 from 4:30-5:15pm. Join current Concentrators to get the inside scoop on the department. Zoom link info
  • Join members of the senior class in Comp Lit for an informal thesis panel presentation on Thursday, November 5, at 5pm. This is a great opportunity to get a real sense of what kind of work you can do in Comp Lit. Zoom link info
  • Zoom in for a group chat with Dr. Naddaff and members of the Tutorial Board about Comp Lit on Tuesday, November 10, from 3-4pm Eastern. Feel free to drop in for even just a few minutes and talk informally with members of the department about the undergraduate Comp Lit program. Zoom link info
  • Join Comp Lit Alum Becky Cooper (AB '11) on a book tour to promote her upcoming book We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence in conversation with Patrick Radden Keefe, hosted by the Harvard Book Store. Friday, November 13th, 6:30-7:30pm, register here.
You do not need to apply to the undergraduate Comp Lit concentration, but we do ask you to submit the “Declaring Comparative Literature” form by 11:59pm on Thursday, November 12, 2020. We will contact you shortly thereafter to schedule an advising conversation with a member of our department. Remember that you must officially declare your concentration by Thursday, November 19. If you are interested in concentrating in Comp Lit but miss the November 12 deadline, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (

You can find a full description of Comparative Literature and concentration requirements in the Harvard College Handbook for Students.

Life After Comp Lit:

Students who have concentrated in Comparative Literature have gone on to careers in a variety of fields: academics, journalism, film, law, medicine, and business, among others. Please see our Alumni List for information about some of our graduates.

We welcome your questions throughout the year:

If you are interested in concentrating in Comparative Literature, our Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Sandra Naddaff, will be happy to answer any of your questions throughout the year. She holds office hours by appointment (Fall 2020 Office Hours: Wednesdays 3-4:30pm) and you can sign up for your appointment on this page. You may also email Dr. Naddaff directly ( with any questions you might have.

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