Translation Studies, Graduate Certificate

Certificate Candidacy

To earn a graduate certificate at Washington University, a student must complete all courses required by their department; maintain satisfactory academic progress; fulfill all academic and residence requirements; and file an Intent to Graduate. Graduate certificates are not standalone programs and are only available to current students in applicable graduate programs. Thus, graduate certificates are conferred at the same time as the student’s primary graduate program.

Program Requirements

  • Total Units Required: 15
  • Certificate Length: 2 years
    • Note: Students must be enrolled in 9 graduate credits each semester to retain full-time status. As students complete their course work, if enrolled in fewer than 9 graduate credits, they must enroll in a specific Arts & Sciences graduate course that will show 0 units but does count as full-time status. Students should connect with their department to ensure proper enrollment prior to Add/Drop.
    • This program is offered to PhD students only.

Translation Studies Graduate Certificate

With its interest in crossing the borders between languages, cultures, and national literatures, the discipline of comparative literature implicitly performs and assesses theoretically the function and value of "translation" in the widest sense of the term. The Graduate Certificate in Translation Studies offered by Comparative Literature and Thought explicitly supports both the practical turn to translation and the critical and theoretical assessment of translation in the context of globalization, multiculturalism, cultural hybridity, postcolonial theory, and interdisciplinarity.


Admission into the Translation Studies Graduate Certificate program require completion of the Application for Admission along with a listing of courses the student plans to take in anticipation of obtaining the Translation Studies Graduate Certificate. The student must bring these materials to a discussion with the Director of Translation Studies for acceptance into the program. 

Required Courses

The certificate requires 15 course credits overall, 6 of which may count toward both the certificate and the PhD degree and 9 of which may be allocated only to the certificate. Applicants must already be enrolled in a PhD program at Washington University. 

Minimum Grade Requirement: B-

Requirement 1

Students complete two core courses, which may be taken in order of preference and which also integrate translation practice:

  • Comp Lit 551 Methods of Literary Study: The Theory and Practice of Literary Translation 
    This course is a review of translation theories, with a study of translation practices of various literary forms (prose, poetry, drama) and media. Prerequisite native or near-native competence in English and another language. Also open to qualified students not in the Certificate program.
  • Comp Lit 552 Methods of Literary Study: The Theory and Practice of Literary Translation II
    This course offers a review of translation theories and the study of translation practices of various literary forms (prose, poetry, drama) and media. Prerequisite native or near-native competence in English and another language. A more general approach to translation and cultural exchange in a globalizing world than Part I.  Topics will include the ideological underpinnings of translation, the political uses of language in intercultural communication, and the multiple uses of translations of all kinds of literature in a multicultural world. Students will choose a text that has already been translated for critique in addition to producing their own translation; students will be expected to report orally on the process and the product of this project several times during the semester.

Requirement 2

Students complete three 1-unit translation modules in sequence: Comp Lit 5521 Translation Module 1; Comp Lit 5522 Translation Module 2; and Comp Lit 5523 Translation Module 3.

Modules are designed for the student to gain further experience translation; texts may be in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Ancient Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Persian, and Spanish.

Students may elect to substitute a semester of Comp Lit 512 Literature in the Making for the three translation modules, with permission from the Director of Translation Studies Graduate Certificate.


After completing Requirement 1, the student will meet with the Director of the Translation Studies Certificate in consultation with the DGS in Comparative Literature and Thought, and will verify that all requirements have been met. In preparation for this meeting, the student must complete the Module Enrollment Form, indicating their translation project scope and faculty mentor. Once approved by the Director of the Translation Studies Certificate, the student will be authorized to enroll in Comp Lit 5521 Translation Module 1, Comp Lit 5522 Translation Module 2, or Comp Lit 5523 Translation Module 3 for completion of the translation modules. Note: Each translation module enrollment requires its own Module Enrollment Form and permission.


The student will translate a published text (or, exceptionally, an unpublished text) of 10 to 15 pages from either literature, literary criticism, or literary theory preapproved by the appropriate faculty mentor.


The student will translate a published text (or, exceptionally, an unpublished text) of 10 to 15 pages from either literature, literary criticism, or literary theory, preapproved by the appropriate faculty member. The student should additionally write a brief introduction to accompany the translation. (The introduction should consist of a brief review of the sociohistorical context of the original, the methodologies employed, and the challenges encountered and addressed)

  • The student will consult the faculty member about an appropriate text for translation. The student’s choice of text must be approved by the faculty member who will read and grade the translation upon its completion.
  • The student may choose to complete on or each of these modules in conjunction with a 500-/5000-level literature or theory course/courses appropriate for producing a translation.
Translation Guidelines

The translation for foreign language-based literature or theory classes will be organized as follows:

  1. A native speaker of English might translate a text from a national (foreign) literature into English.
  2. A student whose native/national language is not English, might translate an English text into that national language, or a text from his/her national/native language into English.
  3. Translation from a language other than English to a second language that is not English can only be done with permission of the Director, DGS, and the appropriate faculty members.

The evaluation of the translation produced in each module will be done by the faculty member who has agreed to supervise the translation. When this is not possible, the evaluation of the student's work will be done by the appropriate professor from a list of faculty approved by the Translation Certificate Director and available from the DGS of Comparative Literature and Thought (see list below). The Comparative Literature DGS in conjunction with the Director of the Translation Certificate may also designate another member of the graduate faculty in the corresponding national literature program to certify the exam.

Requirement 3

Students complete two electives (6 units) selected from the course listings available on the Translation Studies website.

A major translation project (30+ published pages plus introduction) conducted under faculty supervision (Comp Lit 500 Independent Work, 3 units) can be taken to replace one of the courses from the list of elective courses identified under Requirement 3. Normally, this option can be undertaken only as the last element in work toward the Certificate; any student wishing to carry out a project of this scope would need the approval of the Translation Studies Certificate Director.

Contact Info

Contact:Graduate Program Administrator: Comparative Literature and Thought