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Comparative Literature, Languages, and Linguistics


Comparative Literature, Languages, and Linguistics is a major for students who love literature and have an aptitude for languages. By studying comparative literature, you'll come to understand the ways that storytelling and literary themes vary and evolve across cultures, time, and genres. You'll learn why the classics – The Iliad, The Odyssey, Oedipus the King, works by Shakespeare, Milton, and Cervantes, to name a few – have transcended time and place, continue to speak to and inspire readers, and remain relevant to your own life today.

Hofstra's varied slate of cultural offerings, and our location just a short train ride from New York City, means you'll have ample opportunities to enrich your studies with plays, lectures, and other events and programs. Our Great Writers, Great Readings series brings world-renowned novelists, poets, playwrights, and essayists to campus each semester. Other recent on-campus events have included a performance of Sophocles' Antigone by the Theatrikos Kyklos, an ensemble featuring actors from the National Greek Theater, and the Athens and Epidaurus festivals.

Competence in multiple languages and literatures will help you develop cross-cultural understanding and communication skills that are critical in today's global society and prized across many different industries.


Comparative Literature teaches students how to look at the world through literature via a transhistorical and transnational lens. Students learn history, theory, and criticism; the process and theory of translation; textual analysis; and writing, research, and oral presentation skills.

Many students in this program have additional concentrations in a foreign language area or in one of the social sciences. Some students choose to minor in World Literature. Others, with a strong interest in Asian Studies, choose to major or minor in that discipline.

Students pursuing a degree in Comparative Literature are required to complete coursework in at least two foreign languages. In the first foreign language, students are expected to achieve full professional proficiency. In their second foreign language, they take at least two courses beyond level 2, reaching limited professional proficiency.

In addition to studying languages, students take courses in the literature and cultures of Europe, ancient Rome, Greece, China, and Japan. The literature courses are taught in translation, though students with linguistic fluency are encouraged to read and study works in their original language.

Because Comparative Literature is an interdisciplinary course of study, students take at least two courses in another discipline, including anthropology, art history, drama, history, music, philosophy, and sociology.

There also are minors in Comparative Literature and World Literature.

Up-to-date information about required classes and more is available in the Hofstra Bulletin.

BA in Comparative Literature and Languages Requirements

Recent Alumni Outcomes

Alumni from Comparative Literature embark on a variety of careers, including journalism, interpreting, government, and art. Fluency in a foreign language, required by this program, gives students a competitive edge in the workforce. Alumni have the ability to deal with an international clientele and can represent employers abroad.

Among the places where our recent alumni are working include:

  • Burma Task Force USA
  • Duck Creek Technologies
  • EBSCO Information Services
  • Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership
  • John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Wiley)
  • Macmillan Learning
  • Peace Corps
  • St. Martin's Press
  • U.S. Army
  • World Class Language Solutions

Comparative Literature also prepares students well for a variety of advanced degree programs, including business, law, and education. Our students have gone on to graduate studies at:

  • Adelphi University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Hofstra University
  • Long Island University
  • Pace University
  • SUNY Farmingdale State College
  • University of Alabama
  • Wayne State University
  • William & Mary
91% are employed, grad school or both
99% accept a position within six months
$49K median salary*
Get More Info on Program Outcomes
*Represents median salary for the first year following graduation

Experiential Learning

Students abroad

Hofstra offers study abroad programs across the globe, which are great opportunities for comparative literature students to immerse themselves in the language and culture of other countries. Our programs, which are primarily held during the January and Summer sessions, include Athens, London, Japan, Venice, and other places. Students may also consider Hofstra's European Odyssey class, a semester-length study abroad program in which students travel with faculty throughout Western and Eastern Europe by minivan, studying geographical, historical, and contemporary topics in at least 10 countries.

Students in the Department of Comparative Literature, Languages and Linguistics also participate in the Aequora program, a nationwide community service project in which volunteers teach Latin and classic works of literature to elementary and middle school students. Our students are currently running this program at a local public library.

Comparative Literature students have completed internships at a wide assortment of companies, mainly in publishing and related areas. Our recent students have interned at:

  • Area Health Education Center
  • CITYarts, Inc.
  • Donadio and Olson Literary Agency
  • Innocence Project
  • Macmillan Learning
  • Messenger Post Media
  • Northwell Health
  • South Shore Bank
  • Web Media 151
  • Westbury School District



Dr. Donahue is a professor of German language and literature and coordinator of Hofstra’s German program. Here, he talks about the value of seeking out international postgraduate fellowships and scholarships like the Fulbright program.

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