A graduate program in Comparative Humanities

Last updated: July 19, 2013 at 1:37 p.m.


The Master of Arts in Comparative Humanities offers students the opportunity to pursue rigorous humanistic studies within cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural frameworks. Our synergistic one-year graduate program focuses on avenues of inquiry that bridge intellectual traditions, geographies, nationalities, historical periods, and/or vernaculars. This unique interdisciplinary paradigm facilitates the development of a multi-faceted approach to language, literature, and culture.

How to Be Admitted to the Graduate Program

The general requirements for admission to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as specified in an earlier section of this Bulletin, apply to candidates for admission to this program. Prior to submitting the application, applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the Master of Arts Program in Comparative Humanities (MACH) faculty profile page so that they may fill out the section of the Graduate School application regarding faculty with whom they might be interested in working. Beyond the standard requirements, candidates should submit two letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a writing sample not to exceed 35 pages.


David Powelstock, Director of Graduate Studies
(German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature)

Jerónimo Arellano
(Romance Studies)

Mary Baine Campbell

Stephen Dowden
(German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature)

William Flesch

Dian Fox
(Romance Studies)

Matthew Fraleigh
(German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature)

Talinn Grigor
(Fine Arts)

Caren Irr

Patricia Johnston
(Classical Studies)

Reuven Kimelman
(Near Eastern and Judaic Studies)

Andrew Koh
(Classical Studies)

Ann Koloski-Ostrow
(Classical Studies)

Susan Lanser

Robin Feuer Miller
(German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature)

Leonard Muellner
(Classical Studies)

John Plotz

Michael Randall
(Romance Studies)

Fernando Rosenberg
(Romance Studies)

Rajesh Sampath

Ellen Schattschneider

Nancy Scott
(Fine Arts)

David Sherman

Harleen Singh
(German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature)

Ilana Szobel
(Near Eastern and Judaic Studies)

Jonathan Unglaub
(Fine Arts)

Cheryl Walker
(Classical Studies)

Pu Wang
(German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature)

Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

All students must successfully complete the following requirements, which include eight semester-long courses:

A. COMH 201a: MACH Proseminar
This fall-term seminar meets weekly to explore innovative approaches to, and theoretical frameworks for, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural study in the humanities, preparing students for their capstone project.

B. COMH 201b: MACH Graduate Seminar
Focusing on a subject of broad interdisciplinary interest within the humanities, this graduate seminar is offered each spring to provide students with a model of focused exploration. The seminar topic is chosen by the instructor with cognizance of the interests of the incoming class. The course models the methods of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural study and provides students with an opportunity to bring their diverse interests to bear on a common topic of inquiry. This course is open to Brandeis graduate students from other disciplines. Under special circumstances, students may substitute for this course another graduate seminar chosen in conjunction with their primary advisor and the DGS.

C. COMH 301b.

D. Five Additional Courses
Students must complete five additional courses within a coherent interdisciplinary and/or intercultural sphere of concentration. Together, these courses must represent at least two disciplines and/or cultures. Students will choose their curricula in collaboration with their primary advisor and the DGS based on student interest and appropriate available courses. Generally, students select courses numbered 100 and above from related departments. Please consult the links in the sidebar of this page for courses in related departments.

Capstone Project
Each student must complete a project of professional quality that produces original work within her or his field of concentration and that meets with the approval of a faculty advisor and a second reader. While the project may take the form of a traditional research paper, students may also explore the possibility of creating (for example) a web-based resource, a curricular plan, or a multimedia presentation. Work toward this capstone project will be undertaken with the advisor and will count as the student’s eighth course (COMH 301b).

Year-End Symposium
Students will present their capstone projects to their peers, the program faculty, and the university community in a festive year-end symposium.

Residence Requirement
Students may enroll on a full or part-time basis. Students must complete the MACH program within two years; the department strongly encourages full-time MACH students to complete the program within one year. Full-time residency is two semesters. The program may take an additional one or two semesters to complete as an Extended Master's student.

Language Competence
All students are expected to demonstrate reading comprehension of a language other than English either by passing a written examination or by taking a 100-level course taught in another language.

Courses of Instruction

(200 and above) Primarily for Graduate Students

COMH 201a Comparative Humanities Proseminar
Introduces comparative humanities as a field of study. Explores the nature of academic disciplines, the theory and methods of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research, and contemporary issues in the humanities. Develops concrete research skills and individual learning and research agendas. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Powelstock

COMH 301b Comparative Humanities Capstone Project
Students will complete a project of professional quality that produces original work within her or his field of concentration and that meets with the approval of a faculty advisor and a second reader. Usually offered every year.