Each year the Department presents a number of special prizes. Although most are awarded for written work done during the year, students may not always apply for these awards directly. In some cases a faculty member must nominate the student or the student's work for the award.
- Miron Cristo-Loveanu Prize. In memory of Miron Cristo-Loveanu (graduate student in English, 1941-42), the faculty awards a prize for the best Master's Essay in the Department. Nomination Required.
- Robert John Bennett Memorial Award. In memory of Robert John Bennett (M.A. English, 1968), an award given for the best paper expressing original thought either in the field of comparative literature or between literature and such fields as science, music, and art. All GSAS departments may participate, but each ordinarily makes only one nomination. The submission need not have been written to fulfill an academic requirement.
- Van Rensselaer Poetry Prize. The Department offers a prize to any degree candidate who writes the best unpublished example of English lyric verse.
- The Bunner Award. In memory of Henry Cuyler Bunner, this award honors the candidate for a Columbia degree who presents the best essay on any topic dealing with American literature.
- The Marietta C. Pino Book Award. Given by Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Pino, in memory of their daughter who was a student in the Department, this award is intended to help promising graduate students purchase course-related books. Financial need is the most important criterion.
- M. C. Cohen Dissertation Prize. Awarded biannually. A gift of Dr. Cohen, who received his Ph.D. from the Department.
- The Rachel Wetzsteon Prize has been established in loving memory of Rachel Wetzsteon, an esteemed poet, editor, and member of the Columbia University Ph.D. class of 1999. It shall be awarded annually to that candidate for the Master of Arts degree in the Columbia University Department of English and Comparative Literature who, in the judgment of the department's Prize Committee, has written the best master's thesis on either twentieth- or twenty-first century poetry. The prize shall be in the amount of two hundred twenty-five dollars ($225). Both continuing and terminal masters students shall be eligible for the prize, with preference being given to neither class of student. If the Prize Committee determines that no essay in a given year merits the awarding of the prize, the prize monies for that year shall be added to the prize amount for the following year.