The Master of Arts degree in Comparative Studies allows for study of the humanities within a comparative context; that is, through interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives that permit a flexibility and breadth of study, without sacrificing rigor, not normally found in single-discipline graduate programs. Comparative Studies graduate students thus learn to combine the synthesizing and analytical skills of various humanistic disciplines in order to develop interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to the materials of human culture. Accordingly, program courses expand knowledge in humanistic disciplines, specifically Art History, Comparative Literature, Classical Studies, Humanities and other emphases such as Film and Philosophy, and provide intense opportunities to develop wide-ranging research and writing skills.
Widely used in the Renaissance, the term humanities (humanitas or studia humanitatis) refers to the study of human intellectual and artistic creativity. Humanities is both a general academic category (inclusive of literature, history, philosophy, and the history and criticism of art, music, and dance) and a discipline in its own right with a methodology for the critical study of intellectual history and aesthetics. The interdisciplinary humanistic fields that comprise the department—interdisciplinary humanities, classics, comparative literature, and art history—offer students unusual latitude in pursuing graduate education in the humanities, disciplined by insistence on substantial foreign language skills, competence in critical theory and practice, and the development of scholarly rigor.
The success of a program is judged most immediately by two things: (1) the teaching and scholarship of the faculty, as measured by student and faculty reviews of teaching, and by scholarly placement, productivity, and peer reviews; and (2) by the success of the students during the program and as a result of it, this latter for example through placement in doctoral programs and winning graduate fellowships. Success during the program is measured by the degree of excellence attained in fulfilling the program’s curriculum.