What Can I Do with My Comparative Literature Major?

Majoring in comparative literature provides students with the opportunity to study literature within its cultural contexts. This program offers undergraduates the unique opportunity to acquire expertise in two or more linguistic, literary and cultural traditions, to examine their connections, and to develop strong analytical, critical and writing skills through a clear yet flexible program tailored to the students’ individual academic interests. Students who major in comparative literature are encouraged to explore the relationship of literature to philosophy, politics, the arts, and film. The program also allows students to combine the human and intellectual resources from various departments such as Arabic, Classics, English, East Asian Languages and Cultures, French, German, Italian, Linguistics, Slavic Languages, and Spanish and Portuguese. 

To be successful in the program, students must have proficiency in one foreign language and a reading knowledge of a second foreign language. Students build a strong relationship with the program director to create a plan of study that is comprehensive in its scope and allows for full exploration of cultural and literary theory. Students also complete a senior thesis of their choosing.

Majors in comparative literature will be well prepared for graduate studies in the humanities, anthropology, and sociology as well as careers in law, business and publishing.

The study of comparative literature allows for the development of an analytical and multi-culturally aware interdisciplinary understanding that permits students to succeed in virtually any profession. Throughout your experience in the program, you will obtain the following skills:

Critical Thinking Skills

  • Approaching problems from diverse perspectives
  • Avoiding simplistic conclusions
  • Perceiving patterns and structures
  • Reading critically
  • Thinking independently

Effective Communication Skills

  • Writing effectively
  • Reading critically
  • Conveying complex information
  • Speaking to groups
  • Presenting research findings
  • Creating persuasive messages
  • Using precise language
  • Assessing an audience

Research Skills

  • Gathering information
  • Using original sources
  • Applying theoretical approaches to problems
  • Establishing hypotheses
  • Defining problems
  • Summarizing and presenting information
  • Evaluating results

Human Relations Skills

  • Understanding human relationships
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the origins of western culture
  • Appreciation of human history and development
  • Identifying cultural/social considerations
  • Comparing cultures

You can use the examples above, and experiences from classes or research projects to enhance your resume. Try plugging in some of your experiences or skills gained into this formula: Accomplished (X) as measured by (Y) by doing (Z).

Sample Resume Class 1, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Member of Class, taught by Prof. _____

  • Explored major theoretical approaches to literature, such as structuralism and post-structuralism through psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, and post-colonialism, by (insert course projects/assignments)
  • Conducted senior thesis on Imagism, Surrealism, and how the literary avant garde challenges tradition with technique by (insert thesis research methods and findings
  • Developed strong analytical, critical, and writing skills by engaging literary and cultural theories and methodologies in the (insert language(s)) language and literature, such as (insert relevant theories and methodologies)

Georgetown Alumni have taken their comparative literature degree across multiple different industries and have applied the skills they learned in comparative literature across multiple disciplines. 

Additional information about these outcomes can be found in Cawley’s Post Graduation Outcome Report

“Comparative Literature allowed me to study English but also be fluent in another language. I knew I wanted something that would be a little more interesting than just studying english, and when I read comp lit, I just thought, “This is me.” It really honed in on the analytical skills, and it gave me the ability to look at things through multiple filters and different perspectives. That skill specifically is what I do all day long as a data consultant.” – 2005 Georgetown College Graduate, Comparative Literature

“Studying comparative literature made me comfortable with the uncomfortable. When I graduated college, my career didn’t even exist yet, so I have had to navigate a lot of change. Studying the history of critical literature and reflecting on key theories demonstrated to me the importance of being comfortable with change and trying new things. It prepared me and taught me how to be flexible in work more than a mathematics degree alone could have.” – 2007 Georgetown College Graduate, Comparative Literature and Mathematics

“Comparative Literature and my study abroad opportunities prepared me for work as a consultant because it taught me how to be adaptable. I learned how to adjust to accomplish my goals with others. I also learned how to view and analyze the world, which directly correlates to my job today because I am expected to ask a lot of questions to get a lot of clarity while also foreseeing things that the clients aren’t seeing yet.” – 2005 Georgetown College Graduate, Comparative Literature

Helpful Keywords to Improve Searches
There are lots of ways to find good keywords to help your job or internship search process, or even just to learn more about the types of jobs you can do within a specific major. One way to explore this is by checking out the job search tool on Google. 

Once you are in, type in something generic like your major and the world internship afterward. Once you hit enter, it will give you lots of options to explore, but if you want to explore titles, possible career paths, or keywords, hover your mouse over the ‘Title’ tab on the top of the page. This will give you a ton of ideas and options to explore possible keywords. 

Sample Internship Opportunities

  • Publishing (e.g., Teacher Magazine, Oxford University Press)
  • Advertising (e.g., Redman Communications, TBWA/Chiat Day)
  • Marketing (e.g., Leo Burnett USA, McCann Erickson, Saatchi & Saatchi)
  • Non-Governmental Organizations (e.g., the World Bank)
  • Embassies
  • Government (e.g., the State Department)
  • Education (e.g., Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, Learning First Alliance, READ Foundation)
  • Entertainment (e.g., National Public Radio, DC101 Radio Station, Appel Farm Arts and Music Center)
  • U.S. Congress

The Georgetown Global and Comparative Literature Program Website is rich with additional information on studying Comparative Literature.

GU Global and Comparative Literature Program

Professional Associations are a great place to go to dive deeper into the field of Comparative Literature and learn more about what post grad life might look like. 

Vault is a fantastic resource to learn more about specific career fields in Comparative Literature. Vault has information such as salary information, work environment, education and training requirements, outlooks, and specific tips for entering into the field. 

Professors & Academic Deans
Georgetown professors and faculty members can be a wonderful resource for Georgetown students. If you are still curious to learn more about the disciplines of a specific major, we’d encourage you to connect with your professors! Outside of office hours, Georgetown has an online interface called GU360 where students can explore and connect with faculty members that are eager to mentor and support students. You can use this interface to learn more about specific department research, specialties, and areas of study within a major.  

You can also connect with your academic dean or counselor to further discuss opportunities within a given major. 

Lastly, each department has a dedicated Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). This is the individual in charge of coordinating the major program or department as a whole. You can find the Director of Undergraduate Studies by exploring the faculty and staff pages of individual departments websites.

Connecting with alumni is a fantastic way to explore a day in the life of any given major student. There are several different ways to connect with Georgetown Alums. Hoya Gateway is Georgetown’s premier networking platform which connects alumni and students to have meaningful conversations and build a strong network of support. This is a platform alumni opt into with the sole purpose of supporting current students, which means there is an extremely high response rate. 

You can also utilize LinkedIn to connect with Georgetown Alum. A simple alumni search on Georgetown’s LinkedIn profile will help you get connected to approximately 130 thousand alumni, which you can then filter to meet the location, major, industry, or skills that you are interested in exploring.

You can also check out our Post Graduation Outcomes to learn more about what Georgetown alumni in specific majors are up to after graduation. We survey our seniors at the end of each year and into the following year to learn about jobs they secured, service opportunities they committed to, or graduate schools they decided to attend. You can filter by first major to get an idea of what life after Georgetown looks like. You’ll see in many cases that alums are using majors in a wide variety of ways, and your major doesn’t always equal your career path. 

Career Center Staff
You can also connect with career center staff to talk through the possible outcomes of one major over another. In short, there are endless opportunities no matter what major you choose. However, connecting with someone might help you navigate your decision making process a little bit easier. 

At the career center, you have the opportunity to meet with either a Career Exploration Counselor or an Industry Advisor. Career Exploration Counselors can help you talk through concerns, goals, the big picture, and strategies to move forward. You can think of them as generalists and a great place to get started. Industry Advisors can help you think through specific questions about a given career path and provide specific industry information and trends. You can think of them as specialists for once you start to narrow down your possible path. If you think an appointment with one of these individuals would benefit you, you can make an appointment on Handshake.

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  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Theology