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Admission for the MA in Franco-Arab Studies has been suspended for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The MA concentration in Franco/Arab Studies responds to a growing demand in the academic job market for graduates with specialties that span French and Arab studies. It offers students a unique opportunity to engage in innovative and interdisciplinary research in the emerging field ofarabofrancophonie. Situated at the crossroads of Francophone and Arabophone studies,arabofrancophonie is a field that aims to explore the multiple and complex intersections that have linked the historical trajectories of the French and Arab Worlds from the Middle Ages through the twenty-first century. Arabofrancophonie covers a geographical area traversing North Africa (Egypt and the Maghreb — Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) and the Near East (Lebanon and Syria) to the French hexagon, crossing the Atlantic to the Americas and Canada (Quebec): its reach is thus truly global.

In collaboration with colleagues from other departments within the college working in Arabic, Middle Eastern, and Islamic studies (Asian Studies, Art History, Geography, History, Religious Studies,Sociology), and with all of its faculty actively engaged in interdisciplinary research, both premodern and modern, the Francophone program within the Department of Romance Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill is uniquely positioned to offer this MA concentration in Franco-Arab Cultures. For a list of faculty and students involved in Middle East and Muslim studies, please the Carolina Center for the Study of Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.

In order to be admitted to the program, students are expected to have proficiency in French and English. In addition, they will be expected to take two years of Arabic language classes over the course of their two years of Franco-Arab Studies graduate residency. The level of these Arabic classes will depend on each student’s prior experience with or background in the language. Any student who has studied Arabic elsewhere will take a placement test upon entering the program to determine her orhis language level. Students with no previous Arabic language experience will enroll in ARAB101 and follow the regular progression of the sequence for two years; those already fluent in Arabic will test out of this language requirement. Students may not count any of the Arabic language classes they take (except for ARAB407-408) towards the required 30 semester hours of graduate credit.

All students in the program are encouraged to take as many Arabic language (or literature) classes as possible, through summer study abroad or summer immersion programs. They are also encouraged to apply for Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) fellowships to help support their language study during their enrollment in the MA program in Franco-Arab Studies.

A typical two-year MA program would be as follows:

1st YearROML 700 + 2 other Courses3 Courses
2nd Year3 CoursesWritten Exams+Thesis+Defense

MA students in Franco-Arab Studies must complete 30 semester hours: 24 hours of coursework in literature and culture (8 courses), ROML700 (Methodology of Teaching, 3 hours), and 3 hours of thesis credit.


The 24 hours in literature and culture should be divided as follows:

9 hours (3 courses) in Arabic literature or culture chosen from:

  • ARAB 407: Readings in Arabic Literature
  • ARAB 408: Readings in Arabic Literature
  • ARAB 434: Modern Arabic Lit in Translation
  • ARAB 443: Dissident Voice in Arab Cultures
  • ARAB 452: Imagining Palestine
  • ARAB 453: Film, Nation, and Identity in the Arab World
  • ARAB 468: Modernity and its Discontents in Arabic Literature and Culture

Courses on Arabic, Islamic, Middle East studies, Andalusian literature (in the Department of Romance Studies , Spanish section), History, Religious Studies, Art History, Geography, and Sociology may also be used for this Arabic literature and culture requirement.

9 hours (3 courses) selected from the following:

  • FREN XXX: Cultural Diversity in the French Middle Ages [needs to be officially created]
  • FREN 451: Orientalist Fantasies and Discourses on the Other
  • FREN 595: Writing the Mediterranean: Cross-cultural Perspectives on the Early Modern World
  • FREN 615: Readings in Francophone Literature (with a focus on the Maghreb, Lebanon and literatures of immigration in France)
  • FREN 616: Readings in Cultural Studies
  • FREN 690: Diaspora and Transcuralism in Quebecois Literatures (with a focus on Lebanon, The Maghreb and literatures of immigration in Canada)


The remaining 6 hours (2 courses) may be selected from the regular French graduate class offerings, based upon the student’s interest and research focus.

The MA written exam in French with a concentration in Franco/Arab Studies is offered twice a year, at the beginning of the Fall semester (in September) during the second week of February for the Spring semester. The MA candidate begins preparing for the exam by first approaching a member of the French faculty to serve as his or her advisor; this faculty member will also be the exam committee chair and the thesis director. In consultation with the advisor, students will select two other faculty as MA committee members, who may be professors in departments other than Romance Languages. In choosing the committee, the student may consult with both the Graduate Advisor in French and the Director of Graduate Studies. Once the three prospective members have agreed to be on the committee, the candidate should submit their names to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will officially appoint the committee and notify those involved, including the Graduate Student Services Manager.

The student should meet with the exam/thesis advisor no later than January 15 of the second semester of the MA program to plan the exam. The purpose of the meeting is to start formulating a thesis topic, choose the two other exam committee members, begin to compile the exam bibliography, and decide whether to take the exams in the Fall or the following spring semester. Fall exams are encouraged, but the student and the advisor may deem it appropriate to wait until the spring in order to be better prepared for the exam.

In consultation with their MA advisor, students select a topic for their thesis and develop a reading list of Franco-Arab literary texts relevant for the project. The list must reflect a broad distribution across various regions of Franco-Arab literature. In addition to the list of literary texts, students create a bibliography of eight theoretical/critical works — a selection of books, chapters, and articles — related to their thesis topic. These secondary works should be sufficiently broad to help students think about their chosen topic in relation to the reading list as a whole. (In other words, critical texts treating a single work or author are discouraged.)

If the student plans to take the exams in the fall semester, he or she must submit the preliminary version of the bibliography no later than April 1, and the final version no later than April 20. If the student chooses the option of taking the exams in the spring semester, she or he should meet again with the advisor by September 15, submit the preliminary version of the bibliography by November 1 and the final version by November 20.

The objective of the MA Exam is to prepare students:

  • To explore their chosen field in depth and to develop the necessary critical/theoretical paradigms that will allow them to analyze their topic. This is a necessary foundation for writing the MA thesis.
  • To situate their field of specialization within the broad context of Franco/Arab Studies. Students are encouraged to articulate the significance of their project for French/Francophone/Arab studies as a whole.

The written MA exam consists of three questions, each written by one member of the committee. Each question will examine the student’s mastery of the bibliography and of the key issues raised by the topic. The examinee must answer two of the three questions in French and may answer the third one in either English or Arabic. The student may choose the order in which he or she will answer the questions, informing the Graduate Student Services Manager of the choice at least three weeks before the date of the exam. The exam is taken at home, and students will receive the three questions on three different days, usually a Tuesday, the following Thursday, and the following Tuesday. No reference material or notes may be used for the exam. Students must submit their answers to the questions electronically within three hours of receiving them.

Each question will be graded as S (Satisfactory) or U (Unsatisfactory), but in exceptional cases, graders may award an H (High Pass). Students who receive a U on any one of the questions of their written MA exam may retake this part of the exam after an interval of three months.

Students may not petition to take written exams at times other than those assigned for all graduate students. Registration is required during the semester(s) in which written exams are taken.

The MA thesis may be an expansion of a term paper or a new research project on any topic that the student and the MA advisor agree upon. There is no set number of pages for a thesis, though it should be no longer than one hundred pages; most are in the range of 35 to 50 pages of text, exclusive of bibliography. You may wish to consult recent theses filed in our main office or in Davis Library for examples. All theses must follow MLA style and conform to the Graduate School’s Guide to Theses and Dissertations. Students should also check the Graduate School Handbook to be sure of meeting all degree requirements prior to writing the thesis.

It is normally during their fourth semester that MA students write their thesis. The final version of the thesis must be submitted no later than the posted Graduate School deadlines.

The last requirement for the MA degree in French with a concentration in Franco-Arab Studies is the thesis defense, which also constitutes the MA oral exam. Once the MA advisor has approved the final version of the thesis, the candidate will contact all three committee members and schedule a date for the defense. The candidate will distribute hard copies of the thesis to all members of the committee at least two weeks prior to the defense date. During the defense, which normally lasts one hour, the candidate presents the thesis and answers questions from committee members. The candidate must be registered during the semester in which the MA defense takes place.