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Comparative Literature


Cody Wilson came to Purdue to study science, but a passion for helping people prompted him to change his major to sociology. Encouragement he received through the Old Masters program led Cody to participate in Teach for America and work with children in under-served communities.

Majoring in Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature’s directive focuses on the teaching and comparing of world literature, not only as social documents but also as works of art whose full appreciation depends on the study of languages, an understanding of diversity and globalization, and an appreciation of various media. The program encourages the study of literature by promoting the study of a second or third foreign language and by sponsoring courses and dissertations that cut across national boundaries. The Comparative Literature program is designed so that students can individualize their plans of study.

Undergraduate coursework in comparative literature could include areas such as: Chinese, classics, English, Languages and Cultures, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Comparative Literature recognizes that some fields - classics, medieval studies, Renaissance, post-colonial - are inherently comparative and seeks to facilitate the work of students and scholars in these fields. The program also recognizes the role of other disciplines, particularly history and philosophy, but also the social sciences and psychology in developing theoretical approaches to literature.

Upon completion of the program, students majoring in Comparative Literature may choose to enter a field directly or indirectly-related to their studies. Possible careers include:

  • Communications Specialist
  • Technical Writer
  • Data Librarian
  • Business Jobs in Training/Management
  • Teacher
  • Graduate or Professional School

Average Starting Salary: $42,041

All Purdue University College of Liberal Arts majors prepare students with the skills identified as contributing to professional success: communicating and listening well, an understanding and appreciation of diverse points of view, creative thinking and problem solving, a collaborative mindset, the ability to synthesize complex ideas and communicate them clearly, and a Boilermaker work ethic.

Within the field of Comparative Literature, students develop skills that are applicable to many different careers. These skills may include, but are not limited to:

  • A global/cultural awareness of the social and political relationships that shape the world.
  • Aptitude at translating messages simultaneously into specified languages, maintaining message, content, context, and style as much as possible.
  • Experience reading written materials, such as legal documents, scientific works, or news reports, and rewriting material into specified languages.
  • Ability to plan, execute, and disseminate research findings from different vantage points.
  • Ability to articulate creative solutions to problems.
  • Exceptional writing ability for multiple audiences and in multiple styles to communicate information.

Students majoring in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies may choose to enter into the workforce using the skills they have acquired at Purdue or to attend graduate school upon completion of their degree. Past graduates have gone on to:


  • Indiana Department of Child Services
  • Teach for America
  • Lafayette School Corporation
  • AmeriCorps

Graduate School

  • University of Hawaii - Manoa
  • Indiana University
  • University of Wisconsin
  • University of Illinois

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