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This is the description and requirements of the the French PhD Program for students who began their studies in 2014 or earlier.


While an MA program is designed to give students a facility in analyzing literature and culture, the PhD is a more specialized degree that broadens and deepens that ability. Coursework for the PhD program consists of a minimum of six classes (18 credit hours) beyond the MA. Students in French and Francophone Studies are expected to acquire a broad knowledge of all periods of French and Francophone literature, well distributed throughout the following areas:

  • Medieval
  • Renaissance
  • 17th century
  • 18th and 19th centuries
  • 20th and 21st centuries, including Francophone studies

It is expected that students will take at least two courses concentrating on material from before 1700 and at least two courses focused on material from after 1700. In consultation with the Graduate Advisor, doctoral students may enroll in a maximum of one course per year outside the department in areas related to their interests. Students must meet the Graduate School’s residency requirement of 4 semesters of full-time registration. Beyond the basic coursework, doctoral students may want to take additional courses to strengthen their preparation for the written comprehensive examination, to lay the groundwork for the dissertation, or to develop a wider range of teaching fields. As interdisciplinary studies may be appropriate to some research projects and career plans, a supporting program of three courses (nine credit hours) may be part of the PhD program.

A typical three-year Ph.D. program would be as follows:

  Fall Spring
1st Year 3 courses 3 courses
2nd Year additional course work if needed + begin preparation for written exam written examinations + dissertation prospectus
3rd year dissertation research and writing dissertation research and wrting


When students have completed coursework, they are expected to prepare for dissertation research. The first step is compiling a bibliography that reflects a student’s interest in the area she or he has chosen for the dissertation. According to his or her research interest, the student selects an advisor as well as two other faculty members to form the exam committee. In consultation with the committee, the student prepares the bibliography; once the committee approves the bibliography, the student studies for the written exam. Each of the three committee members proposes two questions for the exam. The student completes the exam as a take-home over a weekend, answering one question from each of the three committee members. The exam should be taken a minimum of three calendar months after the committee approves the bibliography, but no later than the third week of November in the fall semester and the second week of April in the spring semester. Exams are not given over holiday weekends.


Upon completing the written exam, the student writes the dissertation prospectus, which outlines the dissertation topic and proposed research. In this phase of the program, the student chooses two other faculty members to complete the dissertation committee, who may be from outside the program or from another institution. Before this committee of five, the student defends the prospectus. The last step in the PhD program is the dissertation, which involves extensive, in-depth original research. When the student successfully defends the dissertation and submits it in final form to the Graduate School, he or she will be granted the PhD. For guidelines on preparing and submitting the final text of the dissertation, please see the Graduate School’s Guide to Theses and Dissertations.