Comparative Culture and Language, PhD

Design your own education with a Ph.D. in Comparative Culture and Language. This program lets you combine multiple fields in cultural and language studies, finding solutions to the challenges facing our global society.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD Comparative Culture and Language

The PhD program in comparative culture and language offers professional training that is linguistically well-grounded, historically and culturally informed, and methodologically transdisciplinary through courses and supervision of research. Central to the program is the critical inquiry of primary texts, media and cultural expressions, aiming at an original understanding of cultures and social groups in their formations, interactions and transformations throughout history.

This degree program is attentive to the various roles of language in societies and in the different perspectives through which language can be studied --- among other aspects, its variations, transformations, hybridizations and processes of acquisition. The doctorate in comparative culture and language focuses particularly on research questions and themes that cannot be fully explored within the traditional disciplinary boundaries; instead, it fosters dynamic collaboration across disciplines in order to engage in the production of knowledge that is crucial to understanding transnational and transcultural interactions across time and space.

The program provides an innovative intellectual platform that advances transdisciplinary research and teaching. In consultation with their advisor, students arrange their coursework in a primary and a secondary area of emphasis. Both areas are organized around interdisciplinary study and research in more than one language. Advanced language requirements vary depending on chosen areas of research. Sample programs of study might include a primary emphasis area in medieval theater and a secondary emphasis area in medieval book culture, with a focus on France and Italy, or students might study multilingualism from a comparative sociolinguistic perspective, comparing trilingual communities like the Yaquis in Arizona and the Uros in Bolivia. Faculty members are drawn from various departments and programs in the humanities and social sciences.


As approved by the student’s supervisory committee, the program can allow 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master's degree to be used for the Comparative Culture and Language Ph.D.

If admitted with a bachelor’s degree, students must complete a minimum of 84 semester hours. If admitted with a master’s degree, they must complete a minimum of 54 hours.

Degree Requirements Credit Hours
Core Course 3
Restricted Electives 36
Electives and Research 33
Culminating Experience 12
Total Credit Hours 84

Courses and electives

The coursework for each student is individualized and based upon the student's previous training, research goals, and mentor and committee consensus. Our research-heavy program requires students to complete a written comprehensive exam, prospectus, and dissertation.

At a Glance: program details

  • Location: Tempe campus
  • Additional Program Fee: No
  • Second Language Requirement: No

Degree Overview

The Ph.D. in Comparative Culture and Language offers, through courses and supervision of research, a training that is linguistically well-rounded, historically and culturally informed, and methodologically trans-disciplinary. Central to the program is the critical inquiry of primary texts, media, and cultural expressions, aiming at an original understanding of cultures and social groups—in their formations, interactions, and transformations throughout history.

With this degree, students can confidently move into academic and international fields. You will serve as an expert on whatever topics you concentrate in. With this Ph.D., you will be prepared for teaching positions, translation work or work in a larger sector such as governmental, diplomatic and international business career opportunities.

Degree Requirements

Required Core (3 credit hours)
SLC 602 Comparative Cultural Theory (3)

Restricted Electives (36 credit hours)
primary field of study (18)
secondary field of study (18)

Elective and Research (21 credit hours)

Foreign Language (12 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
SLC 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional Curriculum Information
Students should see the academic unit for a complete list of approved courses.


Second Language Proficiency Requirement

Students will demonstrate advanced proficiency in their primary (non-English) language of study during the program application process. Students must also have competency in a second (non-English) language, either upon application to the program or to be acquired during the course of the program.

Written and Oral Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive examination will be given at the completion of the student’s coursework. Students will demonstrate their command of the relevant languages, areas of emphasis, and methodologies.

Dissertation Prospectus

The dissertation prospectus should be developed by the student in consultation with the supervisory committee. The prospectus should specify the primary documents examined, the theoretical models to be engaged, and the significance of the proposed research.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, in any field, from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.30 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative of GPA 3.30 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. personal statement
  4. resume or curriculum vitae
  5. writing sample
  6. three letters of recommendation
  7. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency.

The personal statement should describe the questions, issues or challenges the student plans to explore through the doctoral program in comparative culture and language and explain how previous studies, training or professional experiences prepare the student for this research. It should include a proposed plan of study based on the current graduate-level offerings at ASU. In a brief statement, the student should indicate how those courses will be preparation for the dissertation, how the plan fits with the description and goals of this doctoral program, and why the proposed program does not fit some other degree program.

Applicants must provide a 15- to 20-page writing sample in English; a writing sample in the primary language of interest may also be requested at the discretion of the admissions committee. The writing sample should reflect the student's analytical and critical skills.

How to apply

All candidates for the Ph.D. in Comparative Culture and Language must fulfill the general requirements of the Graduate College concerning admission and residence.

Students who wish to be considered for a teaching assistant position must apply by January 1st, for the Fall semester. All other applications for the Fall semester are due by April 15.

Application Fee Waiver

Applicants facing financial hardship may request a waiver for their application fee. Please complete the online application up to the fee payment page. Please send both Monica Hopkins ( and Francoise Mirguet ( a brief essay (about 150 words) describing why paying the application fee is difficult in your situation, along with your application ID number. If your request is accepted, we will let you know that you can submit your application without paying the fee. The School of International Letters and Cultures has established a limited budget for these waivers. Requests will be considered as they are received until the budget is spent. 

Career Opportunities

Professionals with this doctoral degree can confidently move into academic and international fields as an expert on concentration topics. Skills developed through this program are valued for teaching positions, translation work or work in a larger sector such as governmental, diplomatic and international business career opportunities.

Career examples include:

  • area, ethnic and cultural studies teachers and professors
  • education administrators
  • foreign language and literature teachers and professors
  • interpreters and translators
  • philosophy and religion teachers and professors
  • reporters and correspondents


Under-Represented Minorities


Students in PhD Programs


International Students

PhD in Comparative Culture and Language Graduate Faculty


The Comparative Culture and Language PhD program is ideal for mature, self-driven students who are passionate about constructing a comparative approach to cultural analysis. As a CCL student, you have an opportunity to build a unique international research focus and carve your own career path in academia or in the private or non-profit sectors.

Angeline Young, PhD

Contact Information

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