Admissions to the Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies: Folklore Studies Ph.D. have been suspended as of summer 2018 and will be discontinued as of fall 2021. If you have any questions, please contact the department.

This is a named option within the Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies Ph.D.

Admissions to the Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies: Folklore Studies Ph.D. have been suspended as of summer 2018 and will be discontinued as of fall 2021. If you have any questions, please contact the department.

Applicants to the graduate program in the CLFS should submit to the department a statement of purpose for graduate study, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a writing sample (in English) of no more than 15 pages, a list of foreign language and literature coursework, and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. (International applicants should consult the department and the Graduate School website for information and additional application requirements regarding TOEFL, MELAB or IELTS tests.)

Admission to graduate study in the comparative literature named option requires advanced foreign language work at the literary level in at least one language other than English; the student's academic record should demonstrate the ability to work critically in at least two literatures (one of which may be English).

All entering students are admitted into one of the two named options in the M.A. program. Students are accepted into the Ph.D. program upon successful completion of the Second-Year Examination.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.5 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements None.
Assessments and Examinations Comprehensive Examinations

The comprehensive examinations, or "prelims," consist of three written examinations based on reading lists that have been approved by the advisor and the reading committees followed by an oral defense.


The dissertation is a written, substantial, and original contribution to knowledge guided by a dissertation committee consisting of the student’s advisor and two members of the faculty of the department. The student will submit to the dissertation committee for approval a written proposal that will include a bibliography of primary and secondary source materials.

Upon completion of the dissertation, the student will be examined in an oral defense of the dissertation and related areas by members of the dissertation committee in concert with two additional members, at least one of which must be from a related discipline outside of the department.
Language Requirements Second language: An examination in a second language (other than English) must be taken by the end of the second semester of graduate study and before the Second Year Examination.

In the event that the linguistic tradition under examination cannot be covered by a member of the comparative literature and folklore studies faculty, the advisor will invite an appropriate member of the UW–Madison faculty to assist in the administration of the examination.

Third Language: A third language (other than English and the second language) proficiency must be demonstrated by the completion of an appropriate intermediate or advanced literature course with a grade of AB or better. This requirement must be satisfied before the Comprehensive (or "prelim") Examinations.

Fourth Language Reading Requirement: For students pursuing the Comparative Literature Ph.D. option, each candidate must demonstrate reading knowledge of at least one of the following languages: Sanskrit, Hebrew, Classical Greek, Latin, a Medieval language, or a major Asian or African language. This requirement is satisfied by the completion of an appropriate course with a grade of AB or better.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a 12-credit minor. Students may pursue a concentrated minor including the Option A or a distributed minor (Option B). Students in either of the named options in the CLFS Ph.D. program may pursue minors in their department so long as they do not have the same name as their named option.


All M.A. requirements; COMP LIT 822 Seminar-Translation; at least two other graduate seminars in comparative literature and folklore studies; the requirements for a Ph.D. option; demonstration of proficiency in a third language by passing an intermediate literature course with a grade of AB or better; successful completion of the Ph.D. preliminary examinations; successful completion of the dissertation; successful completion of the oral dissertation defense.

Required Courses
M.A. Requirements
COMP LIT 702 Problems in Comparative Studies3
FOLKLORE 510 Folklore Theory (or other Folklore course approved by advisor)3
At least one graduate-level seminar in Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies
Additional Ph.D. Requirements
COMP LIT 822 Seminar-Translation3
One of the following or other Folklore course approved by advisor:
Field Methods and the Public Presentation of Folklore
Practicum in Public Folklore
Digitally Documenting Everyday Communication
Field School: Ethnography of Wisconsin Festivals
12 credits to complete a doctoral minor
Strongly encouraged: A Folklore course within each of the following subject areas:
Folklore Genres or Forms
Cultural Areas
Issues and Methods in Folklore Studies

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions, provided this coursework relates directly to the student's CLFS graduate studies. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree may not be used to satisfy the CLFS degree requirements.

To apply credit for prior graduate coursework toward requirements the student should furnish the student's advisor and the director of graduate study with a transcript of the coursework and copies of work done in courses and syllabi, if available. This task should be completed in anticipation of the Second Year exam. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to the doctoral degree may not be used to satisfy the CLFS degree requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).


Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. The advisor also serves as the dissertation advisor. An advisor is assigned to incoming student but can be changed. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Comprehensive examinations must be taken only on completion of the requisite minimum degree credits.

Within six weeks of successful completion of the comprehensive examination, candidates must submit a working draft of a dissertation proposal their dissertation committee members.

The dissertation must be deposited within two weeks of completion of all degree requirements.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may by require to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances.


Because we are committed to supporting and working closely with our graduate students, we are able to accept only a limited number (2–3 students per year) of the many excellent applications we receive each year. The CLFS' admission form also serves as an application for fellowships and teaching assistantships. The deadline for all completed applications (and for fellowship consideration) for the fall semester is December 15.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Faculty: Professor Livorni (chair, also French and Italian); Associate Professor Livanos; Assistant Professor Fielder; Lecturer Botero. Affiliate Faculty: Professors Adler (German, Nordic, and Slavic), Casid (Art History),  Dharwadker (English), Garlough (Gender and Women's Studies), Gilmore (Landscape Architecture), Goodkin (French and Italian), Guyer (English), Kern (Asian Languages and Cultures), Longinovic (German, Nordic, and Slavic), Rosenblum (Jewish Studies), Valentine (Linguistics) Wells (English); Associate Professors Kapust (Political Science), Neyrat (English);  Assistant Professor Grunewald (English), International Affiliate Faculty: Ramalho de Sousa Santos (University of Coimbra, Portugal). See also Faculty on the department website.