Application

The Comparative Literary Studies PhD Program will begin accepting applications for the 2018-2019 academic year in September 2017.


Application deadline for Fall 2018 matriculation:

  • Thursday, December 14 at midnight

How to Apply

The Graduate School (TGS) only accepts online applications. To apply for the Comparative Literary Studies (CLS) PhD Program, you will submit your application via the online application portal, CollegeNet

Before beginning the online application, please refer to The Graduate School Admission website which has important information about applying. 

In addition to TGS requirements, please see below for application requirements specific to the CLS PhD program.

*When applying, specify Comparative Literary Studies (0416) as the field of graduate work in the online application.

Requirements for Admission

*for more information about the requirements for admission, click the corresponding links.

  • Online application form and application fee
  • Transcripts of all course work (scanned transcripts. Official transcripts are only necessary if admitted)
  • Statement of purpose (1-2 pages)
    • IMPORTANT: On the statement of purpose, next to your name (at the top), you must indicate the home department for which you would want to be affiliated. All graduate students admitted to the CLS program are affiliated with a home department. If interested in more than one home department, please list in order of preference. A list of possible home departments.
    • Your statement of purpose should indicate your primary motivations for your graduate work, specific research interests, and the rationale as to why you chose Northwestern as a place of study.
  • Three letters of recommendation
    • Letters of recommendation should be submitted via the online application. Recommenders can submit letters online via CollegeNet.
  • A writing sample between 15-25 pages in length
  • Resume/CV
  • Fluency of Languages - specify language fluency by rating proficiency in each language
  • English language proficiency - All non-native English speaking applicants must certify their proficiency in the English language. The CLS program follows the same rules as TGS. More information about submitting TOEFL or IELTS test scores. Applicants must certify language proficiency in one of three ways:
    • Providing acceptable IELTS or TOEFL test scores. Tests must be taken within two years of the intended quarter of entry.
      • Minimum IELTS score is 7.0
      • Minimum TOEFL scores are: 90 (internet based); 233 (computer based); 577 (paper based)
    • Earning an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited, four-year institution or equivalent, where English is the official language of instruction.
    • Earning a graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution where English is the official language of instruction.

*Please note that CLS does not require GRE scores as part of the application.

Interdisciplinary Graduate Clusters Initiativethe CLS program welcomes and encourages applicants to indicate interest in the Interdisciplinary Clusters Initiative offered by TGS. Applicants can indicate interest in affiliating with a specific cluster or apply to become a Mellon Cluster Fellow, which has additional benefits. This initiative is not a requirement of the application. Learn more!


If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Peters:
(847) 491-3864 or complit@northwestern.edu or sarah.mcginley@northwestern.edu 

Program in Comparative Literary Studies 

5-538 Kresge Hall
, 1880 Campus Drive 
Northwestern University

Evanston, IL 60208

For those traveling to Northwestern for a visit, the following link has helpful information on getting to and around campus: 
Visiting Campus.