The Ph.D. specialization in French Studies offers comprehensive training in French and Francophone literature and culture.


STAGE 1: Master's degree

  • Stage 1 of the graduate program (as defined in chapter 6.2 of the Graduate College Handbook) corresponds to the M.A. in French Studies.
    • Internal candidates to the Ph.D. program: admission to Stage 2 must be approved by the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, based on a recommendation from the M.A. Examination Committee. The Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid evaluates two samples of written work and a statement of research interest submitted by the student, and considers the student's grade point average, which should be no lower than 3.5. For internal candidates, no letters of recommendation are required.
    • External candidates to the Ph.D. program: students applying with an M.A. in French Studies earned elsewhere must submit a complete application to the Graduate College, including samples of M.A.-level work written in French. If admitted, these students will be expected to complete any requirements needed to have the equivalent of M.A.-level coursework and training at the University of Illinois.

STAGE 2: Ph.D. courses and exams

  • Eight additional graduate-level courses in French Studies (32 credit hours), at least two of which must be in literature or culture prior to 1800. One of these courses may be taken outside the department.
  • Course work must be chosen in such a way that students have fulfilled the following requirements through Stages 1 and 2:
    • At least one course in the literature of each of the four periods of French Literature as defined for the graduate examinations (Medieval and 16th Century, 17th and 18th Centuries, 19th to mid-20th Century, Mid-20th to 21st Century including Francophone). Courses taken at the M.A. level may be counted to fulfill this requirement.
    • Modern foreign language requirement: students are expected to demonstrate a reading proficiency in one modern foreign language (other than French and English). Guidelines can be found in section 5.2.2 of the Graduate Student Handbook. In addition, students specializing in medieval or 16th-century studies must demonstrate an equivalent reading knowledge of Latin.
    • One course in French Linguistics or linguistically oriented textual theory.
  • Ph.D. qualifying examination. The Ph.D. qualifying examination should be scheduled early in the fourth semester of Stage 2 of graduate study (usually no later than March of the second year of Ph.D. courses). It is similar in structure to the M.A. examination: it has two components, written and oral, and is based on the French Studies reading lists covering four periods of French literature and culture (Medieval and 16th Century, 17th and 18th Centuries, 19th Century to mid-20th Century, and mid-20th Century to 21st Century including Francophone). The qualifying exam is cumulative and covers all four periods: for students who received their M.A. from FRIT, the written component of the qualifying exam mostly focuses on the two periods not chosen for the M.A. exam. Students also prepare a short reading list of additional works for their planned period of specialization. The members of the Ph.D. qualifying examination committee (usually all available faculty members in French Studies) are named by the Head of the department.

  • Preliminary (prospectus) examination. After successfully passing the Ph.D. qualifying examination, the student will choose an advisor who will in most cases serve as the chair of their doctoral committee. The preliminary (prospectus) examination should be scheduled to take place approximately 2 years after beginning doctoral coursework, usually in the Fall of the third year of the Ph.D. stage of graduate study. The committee will consist of the chairperson, who must be a member of the graduate faculty in French Studies, and three other professors, up to two of whom may be chosen from a different program in FRIT, a different department (usually from the list of FRIT affiliate faculty), or from another institution. At least three of the committee members must be graduate faculty; at least two, tenured; at least two must be faculty in French Studies. The committee must be approved by the Graduate College. In consultation with the committee, the student will prepare an annotated bibliography and prospectus that will serve as a basis for future thesis research.

STAGE 3: Ph.D. Thesis

  • The thesis committee is usually the same as the committee for the preliminary examination. A change in the committee must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and by the Graduate College. The thesis will develop aspects of the area of research defined in the preliminary examination.


Note: Teaching Assistants are required to take FR 505 (Teaching College and Secondary Foreign Language, 4 hours) as part of their contractual obligation. Students are required to take FR 505 once (in their first year in the program) and the course does not count toward the degree.