French Graduate Program

Qualifying Exams

Upon completion of the post-Master's courses, the student will be eligible to take the PhD Qualifying Examination. The examination covers the three areas of French Studies with particular emphasis on the area of specialization and culminates in the writing of the dissertation prospectus.


Guidelines for the PhD Qualifying Examination in French Studies


The PhD exam is divided into three basic parts:

  1. Two take-home exams written in the two areas of French Studies that are outside the student’s specialization. In each case the student will write a critical paper based on an assigned topic and involving readings from the non-specialist lists (see below). These two exams will take place during two consecutive weeks.
  2. An oral exam that will be devoted primarily to the student’s area of specialization, with some opportunity to review the non-specialist written exams. The oral exam will last two hours.
  3. The writing of a dissertation proposal (15-20 pages). Students will be given approximately one month after completion of the oral exam to finish the proposal.


Major field/area of specialization:

Candidates will compose individual reading lists in consultation with specialists in their chosen field.

Students who are specialists in linguistics will choose a concentration in either the HISTORY of the FRENCH LANGUAGE or in SOCIOLINGUISTICS.

Students who are specialists in literature will choose any TWO periods or areas from the following: Medieval, Renaissance, 17th , 18th, 19th, and 20th century French literature; Caribbean, Sub-Saharan African, North African, Quebec, Acadian, Franco-American, and Louisiana Francophone literature.

Students who are specialists in society and culture will choose a concentration in either FRENCH HISTORY, or CONTEMPORARY FRENCH CULTURE.

Supporting fields/areas of non-specialization:

The program will furnish reading lists to the candidates in the two fields that lie outside the candidate’s area of specialization.

The non-specialist list in linguistics will involve a choice of areas corresponding to the candidate’s field of specialization: literature or society and culture.

The non-specialist list in literature will involve a choice of any two historical periods or Francophone areas.

The non-specialist list in society and culture will involve a choice of focus between French history and contemporary French culture.



The dissertation will conform to all regulations and guidelines generally applicable at the University.


The Dissertation Proposal:

While the exact form of the proposal will vary according to the student’s specialization, in each case the student will be expected to demonstrate a familiarity with both the primary texts and the critical issues that define the chosen field. The proposal for the dissertation should include the articulation of a thesis and an indication of methodology. Students are encouraged to consult with faculty during the process of writing the dissertation proposal.

Committees for the exam:

  • A four-member committee will supervise Parts one and two of the exam. This committee will consist of two members from the candidate’s field of specialization, and one member from each of the two fields of nonspecialization.
  • A three-member committee will read and evaluate the dissertation proposal. This committee will constitute the dissertation committee, and wherever possible will consist of three members from the field of specialization.



Sample of Dissertation Topics

Aloush, Abeer, "Banlieues françaises et jeunes issus de l’immigration: religion et violence" (JF Brière)

Amekudji, Anoumou, "La Problématique du retour dans les romans et films africains sur l'immigration" (E Brière)

Brucher, Markus D. "Regards et engagements helvétiques dans la colonisation de l'Algérie: la Compagnie genevoise de Sétif, 1853-1871" (JF Brière)

Byrne, Jacqueline. "Colette et Gabrielle Roy, deux pionnières de l'écriture feminine" (S Blood and E Brière)

DeGroult, Nathalie M. "Portraits maternels dans le cinéma du nord" (G Santoni)

De Poortere, Machteld. "Les idées philiosophiques et littéraires de Mme de Genlis et de Mme de Stael" (S Blood)

Grant, Charlene M. "Rapture in Language: A Cross-Cultural Study of the Works of Taos Amrouche and Claribel Alegría" (E Brière)  

Jones, Robert J. "A Critical Edition of the Prose Version of Yvain (Wales, National Library, MS 444-D)" (MB Winn)

Jouët-Pastré, Danielle, "Récits de filiation: étude de trois perspectives dans la littérature québécoise contemporaine" (E Brière)

Martin, Véronique. "Mediational Effects of Desktop-Videoconferencing Telecollaborative Exchanges on The Intercultural Communicative Competence of Students of French as a Foreign Language" (C Fox)  

Stelling, Louis Edward. "Morphosyntactic Variation and Language Shift in Two Franco-American Communities" (C Fox)

Yapo, Louis-Pascal. "Resistance and Subversion in the Novels of Ahmadou Kourouma" (E Brière)


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