French Studies Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Admissions to program have been suspended effective October 2010.

The Ph.D. in French Studies is based upon training in language and linguistics, society and culture, and literature and the arts. A core of graduate courses will address each of these areas. Students will be required to demonstrate competency in all areas before proceeding to more advanced studies in one or another of them.

Program of Study

Students will meet the following requirements:

  1. The completion of at least 60 credits beyond the baccalaureate degree;
  2. The satisfaction of a research tool requirement of competency in another foreign language. This requirement may be met in a variety of ways, depending upon the student's preparation and career plans;
  3. The completion of a professional Internship or a Teaching Practicum. Although the Department will help students in devising and executing internships, the ultimate responsibility for this requirement will lie with the student;
  4. The completion of a Qualifying Examination;
  5. The proposal, execution and defense of a dissertation.


The program will admit only those graduate students who possess sufficient background to successfully pursue an interdisciplinary program relating to French Studies. Minimally this would take the form of a baccalaureate degree in French. Other possibilities, however, will be entertained: a strong minor in French with a relevant major (art history, for example); a strong liberal arts undergraduate degree followed by considerable residence in a French-speaking country; etc. It is assumed that graduates of the program will find careers either in higher education or in public and private entities engaged in international activities of some sort, and admissions will be based partially upon a perception of the student's likelihood of being able to fulfill such career plans.

Program Requirements

The first level of the program will consist of a series of core courses required of all students holding the baccalaureate degree and required as advised of all holders of master's degrees, plus a further selection of 500-level courses. Students will be expected to pass these courses with the grade of B or higher.

The three Core Courses (carrying three credits each and required of all students) introduce the three major areas of French Studies:

  1. Fre 505 Approaches to French Society and Culture (Cross-cultural and comparative analyses);
  2. Fre 510 Structure of French (Language in its relation to cultural forces);
  3. Fre 512 Approaches to French Literature and the Arts (The interrelationships of French literature and the other arts; methods of comparative analysis).

Master's Comprehensive Examination

Students not holding the master's degree must pass a Comprehensive Major Field Examination upon completion of the first phase of the program and thereby qualify for the master's degree. Students already holding the master's degree from other institutions will normally have attained this degree of competence; in contrary cases such students will be required to take those master's level courses deemed necessary by the Department.

Successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination will qualify the student to move on to the next level. Students deemed to have passed the Comprehensive Examination with a minimum level of competency will be advised to leave the program with the master's degree.

Research Tool Requirement

All doctoral students will be required to demonstrate a reading competency in a language other than English or French. The level of competency required will be that necessary to follow scholarship and criticism in his or her field of specialization. The specific language chosen will be decided upon by the student, in consultation with the graduate director and/or the dissertation committee.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination

Upon completion of the post-master's courses, the student will be eligible to take the Qualifying Examination. The purpose of this examination is to demonstrate the student's fmailiarity with the problems, issues and research in the three areas of French Studies and understanding of the interrelations among these fields. It involves three parts: 1) Two take home exams written in the two areas of French Studies that lie outside the candidate's specialization. In each case the student writes a critical paper based on an assigned topic involving readings from a list designed for non-specialists in the field; 2) An oral exam devoted primarily to the student's area of specialization; 3) The writing of the dissertation proposal.

Internship or Practicum

Either immediately prior to or following the Qualifying Examination, each student must complete an approved Internship or Practicum appropriate to his or her career plans. Students will register for French 700. This course carries S/U grading.

Internships are designed for those students planning non-academic careers. The Department will make every attempt to create suitable opportunities for internships. However, the ultimate responsibility for finding and completing the internship will rest with the student.

Practicums are designed as teaching experiences beyond the traditional elementary language courses.

Students wishing to prepare an internal Practicum will arrange to work with a member of the faculty in preparation of a segment of an existing course offered by that faculty member.

Students wishing to prepare an external Practicum will arrange to work with a member of the faculty in the preparation of a course to be taught at another institution. Students will render periodic reports to the supervising faculty member, and a final summation of the experience.

The Practicum requirement may be waived for doctoral students who have had extensive experience teaching French Studies beyond the elementary level.

Full Time Study in Residence

The full-time study in residency requirement for doctoral students in French Studies has been eliminated.

Admission to Candidacy

Students will be admitted to doctoral candidacy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory completion of course requirements;
  2. Satisfactory completion of the research tool/foreign language requirement;
  3. Completion of University residence requirements;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the Qualifying Examination;
  5. Satisfactory completion of the Internship or Practicum.


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

Each student will prepare a dissertation proposal in consultation with his or her committee. As the proposal reaches definitive form, it will be presented to a general meeting of the faculty for discussion and critiquing. Dissertation proposals will generally be 750 to 1,000 words long, and will outline the problem to be dealt with and the methodology to be used. The director will advise the candidate as to when to present the proposal. Subsequent to presentation, the committee will supervise all changes and give final approval.

Upon completion of the dissertation, the supervising committee will notify the Director of French Studies who will arrange for a defense before the faculty.