Graduate Student Handbook


This departmental handbook is intended to describe the graduate programs in French and Italian and to summarize some of the policies of the Graduate College that pertain to graduate students. It is not intended to be a complete description of the policies and procedures of the Graduate College or the University. Students are advised to consult the Graduate College Handbook for a complete description of topics such as Credit Loads; Credit/No Credit; Time Limit; Travel for Conferences; Travel for Dissertation Research; Stipend Payments; Payroll Forms; Tax Status; Health Insurance; Vacation and Sick-Leave; University Resources (for TAs); Mediation of Conflicts between Faculty Supervisors and TA/RA; Resources and Procedures outside of Department (Grievance); Ethics; Academic Integrity, Professional Codes of Conduct; Academic Misconduct Policies (e.g. plagiarism, discrimination, sexual misconduct).

The Graduate College Handbook explains your privileges and responsibilities as a graduate student, describes many of the services provided to you by the University, and summarizes the Graduate College regulations that apply to all graduate students. Much of the Graduate College Handbook deals with rules and regulations, but it also contains a lot of helpful information. All policies in the Graduate College Handbook are followed by the Department of French and Italian.

In the event of any major changes to the departmental requirements described here, continuing students (i.e. beyond the first year of the M.A. or Ph.D.) may choose to fulfill the requirements in effect when they began their degree program or to adopt the changes in the revised document. In all such matters, students should consult their advisors.

We strive to provide each student in the department with the best opportunities for success in graduate school and beyond. We are sincerely interested in receiving any suggestions that could improve our graduate programs.

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Part I - General Information

1. Mailboxes

Graduate student mailboxes are located in the main office, 2090 Foreign Languages Building (FLB). These boxes provide a convenient means of getting in touch with you. Important messages will sometimes be left in your mailbox, so please be sure to check its contents regularly.

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2. Email and Internet

Departmental notices are sent out by email. Please read your email regularly. If you are not receiving departmental email notices, please notify the FRIT Office Manager in 2090 FLB (phone 244-8243, or at The Department web page is

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3. Computer Facilities

2124 FLB is the shared computer lab for French and Italian teaching assistants (TAs). Keys for this room are distributed at the beginning of the semester. For other computer sites, for U of I Box cloud storage and for the University's policies and procedures regarding both on- and off-campus computing, see Technology Services at Illinois.

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4. Keys

Graduate students in FRIT receive a key to their office and can request a key to the TA printer room on the 2nd floor. Requests should be directed to SLCL-Facilities (

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5. Offices

The School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics (SLCL) staff assigns shared graduate student offices to all graduate students with teaching assistant appointments. Smoking is not allowed in these offices or anywhere in the building or on campus.

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6. Supplies

Graduate teaching assistants may obtain office supplies for the course they are teaching. Specific requests should be made to the FRIT Office Manager in 2090 FLB. Research assistants should check with their supervisors before obtaining supplies for their work or operating the copy machine.

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7. Vending Machines

Vending machines stocked with cold and hot drinks and snacks are located on the ground floor behind and to the left of the elevators.

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8. Security

The emergency phone number is 9-911 from campus landlines, or 911 from cell phones.
Please be security conscious. Do not leave personal valuables in your office or desk. Do not share your keys or invite others to the graduate student offices or other department facilities. Close and lock your office door whenever you leave the office.

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9. GEO

See information about the Graduate Employees' Organization.

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Part II - Your Academic Program

1. Important Departmental Rules

1.1 All students must consult their academic advisor before registering for courses.

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1.2 Attendance at Departmental Events

Attendance at departmental events is expected from all graduate students in French and Italian, as these events are an essential part of graduate study. You are strongly encouraged to come to all dissertation defenses, unless it interferes with a class. You should also make every possible effort to attend talks given by invited scholars or by your peers, as well as any professional gathering organized by the department. These are important occasions for intellectual exchange with the faculty and with scholars from other institutions, and provide the opportunity to familiarize yourself with aspects of academic life.

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2. Graduate College Rules Regarding Course Load

The Graduate College specifies a minimum amount of credit for which a Teaching/Research Assistant must enroll in accordance with the following table:

Appointment Percentage Minimum Load in Hours

11-24 percent: 12 credit hours
25-67 percent: 8 credit hours

Students with fellowships should take 12 or more hours per semester. Students working on dissertations should register for the maximum number of hours permissible (either 599 exclusively, or a combination of a course plus 599). Teaching Assistants are strongly advised to take three courses during the semesters when they are teaching only one course.

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3. Role of Faculty Advisors

At the M.A. and early doctoral level, FRIT graduate students are advised by the designated graduate advisor for the program and specialization they have chosen: French StudiesFrench Applied Linguistics, Italian Studies. For current information about the graduate advisor for each of these specializations, click on the specialization.

Students meet with their graduate advisor at least once per semester, prior to registering, in order to discuss their choice of courses for the following semester and to ensure that they are fulfilling the degree requirements. Graduate advisors record students' progress in their online files (maintained by SLCL Graduate Student Services). It is absolutely required to meet with the advisor before registering for courses.

At the advanced doctoral level, each student selects a Director of research whose expertise will permit them to direct the student's program of course work and research leading to the preliminary examination and dissertation defense. It is the student's responsibility to identify a faculty member who will agree to direct their dissertation project.

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4. The M.A. Program and Examinations

4.1 Course Work

All M.A. programs in French and Italian require 32 semester hours of graduate credit. Programs and specializations have specific requirements about courses: French Studies, French Applied LinguisticsItalian Studies.

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4.2 Changing Graduate Specialization (French)

Students admitted to the M.A. in French are expected to complete their degree in the specialization to which they were admitted. If a student wishes to switch from one specialization to another, they may do so at the Ph.D. level, through an internal application for admission to the other specialization during the semester the M.A. exam is taken (normally the third or fourth semester after a student's entry into the original graduate program).

The Department's Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid shall evaluate (1) the student's statement of purpose explaining the reasons for the intended change of specialization and the interest in doctoral studies in the chosen specialization, (2) the student's academic record, (3) three letters of recommendation by Illinois faculty, and (4) two writing samples. The student's internal application for entry into a different specialization will be evaluated in consideration of the pool of external applicants for that specialization.

In exceptional cases, a switch of specialization may be authorized during the first year of the M.A. In a written statement to the Department Head and the Director of Graduate Studies, the student shall petition for changing specializations and lay out their reasons for it. The academic advisors for the two specializations involved also shall explain why the student's switch is in the best interest of the student and the department, and a faculty member of the specialization to which the student wants to switch shall provide a statement in support of the student's petition. These statements shall be provided as soon as possible, before the end of the Academic Year. The Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid shall evaluate the petition, also taking into account the pool of external applicants.

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4.3 Guidelines for the M.A. Examination

Detailed information on department procedures for M.A. and Ph.D. examinations is found in the respective description of each specialization posted on the departmental website (French Studies, French Applied Linguistics).

Students normally take the examination during the year in which they finish course work for the M.A. (i.e., the third or fourth semester of the M.A.). The examination cannot be scheduled during the Summer Term.

Before scheduling the written and oral M.A. examinations, the chair of the examination committee (named by the Head of the department) should ask the Director of Graduate Studies to check the student's dossier, to make sure that the student is on track to complete the required 32 hours of course work in the distribution specified for the specialization that the student has chosen. When dates are agreed upon, the committee should let SLCL Graduate Student Services know. Students registered with DRES (Disability Resources & Educational Services) who require disability accommodations such as extended time should notify the chair of the exam committee in advance of scheduling the exams.

A combined result for both components of the exam (Pass, Terminal M.A., Fail) is reported to the Graduate College. Students who receive a "Terminal M.A." grade may not apply to the Ph.D. program. If the oral or written component results in a grade of "Fail," it may be retaken once, usually the following semester and with the same committee. A student with two failures in the M.A. exam (including failing different components) must withdraw from the program. Appeals may be considered only on grounds of alleged unfair treatment and would be directed to the FRIT Graduate Studies committee.

The exam committee fills out the "M.A. Comprehensive Examination Report Form" (there is a different form for each specialization) and returns it to SLCL Graduate Student Services. The chair of the exam committee should notify the Director of Graduate Studies, who will notify Graduate Student Services that the student's name should be put on the graduation degree list once all course work is completed.

In addition, the committee will provide the student and the Director of Graduate Studies with a written evaluation of the student's performance. For students who receive a grade of "Pass" and plan to apply to the Ph.D. program, the evaluation is also forwarded to the admissions committee, along with examination copies.

If the student wishes to enter the Ph.D. program, they must apply to the Department's Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid. In addition to the recommendation of the M.A. examination committee, the admissions committee 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.

Students wishing to apply to the doctoral program should take the M.A. examination before the end of February during their second year. In French Studies, the M.A. examination should be scheduled in the third semester of the M.A. stage of graduate study (usually in October or November of the second year of M.A. courses).

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4.4 The M.A. Examination in French Studies

Detailed guidelines for the M.A. examination in French Studies

Students should take the M.A. examination in French Studies no later than the Fall of their second year in the graduate program.

The members of the M.A. exam committee in French Studies (three faculty in French Studies) are named by the graduate advisor in French Studies and the Director of Graduate Studies, informing the Head.

The examination is conducted in French. It has two components, written and oral, and is based on two of the four French Studies reading lists covering periods of French literature and culture (Medieval and Renaissance; 17th and 18th Centuries; 19th Century to mid-20th Century; and mid-20th Century to 21st Century including Francophone). The student, in consultation with the Advisor in French Studies, selects the two periods to be covered in their M.A. examination.

The written component of the exam is 8 hours long in total, divided into 2 days (not necessarily consecutive). The oral component is 1.5 to 2 hours long.

The M.A. examination in French Studies is designed to test students’ knowledge of the selected texts, their ability to discuss them critically, and the quality of their written and spoken French. 

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4.5 The M.A. Examination in French Applied Linguistics

Detailed guidelines for the M.A. examination in French Applied Linguistics

The M.A. examination in French Applied Linguistics has a written and an oral component; the oral component includes a section on French literature and culture. The written component can take one of two forms: a long M.A. paper centered on a research topic, or three short essays featuring core areas (e.g., phonetics and phonology, sociolinguistics, history of French) and applied areas (e.g., acquisition, pedagogy) of French Linguistics. 

The written examination (for the essay option) typically lasts 4 hours; the oral examination, 1.5 to 2 hours. The oral is typically administered a week after the written, if the student has passed the written.

The written examination and the Linguistics part of the oral examination are based on an extended reading list of books, book chapters and articles covering key areas of French Applied Linguistics:

Sample readings for the MA examination in French Applied Linguistics

The French literature and culture part of the examination (in the oral component) is based on a short list of works selected by the student in consultation with the French Studies faculty member of the M.A. examination committee. This list includes a selection of titles from the French Studies reading lists, usually based on courses taken by the student. Students are advised to cover a broad range of periods and genres.

The oral examination includes a discussion of the written examination (M.A. paper or short essays) and questions about selected topics defined in the reading list. It is typically conducted in French.

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5. The Ph.D. Program and Examinations

Please refer to the Graduate College Handbook for detailed information about doctoral requirements and policies at the University of Illinois.

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5.1 Course Work

All Ph.D. programs and specializations in FRIT require 96 semester hours of graduate credit: 

  • 32 semester hours of graduate credit at the M.A. level (usually, eight graduate-level courses);
  • 32 semester hours of graduate credit at the Ph.D. level (usually, eight further graduate-level courses);
  • 32 semester hours of research credit (dissertation work): FR 599 or ITAL 599. Students can register for research credit (599) courses starting in the semester when their preliminary examination is to be taken.

Programs and specializations have specific requirements about courses: French Studies, French Linguistics, French SLATE, Italian Studies.

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5.2 Ph.D. Language Requirements

5.2.1 The Latin Requirement

In the French Studies specialization or the Italian Studies program, doctoral students specializing in Medieval or Renaissance Studies must demonstrate a reading knowledge of Latin.

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5.2.2 The Modern Foreign Language Requirement

Doctoral students in all FRIT programs and specializations must fulfill the modern foreign language requirement by demonstrating satisfactory proficiency in a language other than English and French (for students in French) or Italian (for students in Italian). Students who are native speakers of a third language may opt to fulfill the requirement with that language.

In general, the foreign language fulfilling the requirement should be chosen according to a student's need to read essential scholarship for their doctoral research. Each student should therefore select the foreign language in consultation with their academic advisor. Students in the French program can choose Italian as their foreign language and vice versa.

Satisfactory proficiency can be proven by passing a fourth-semester language course in the language offered at the University of Illinois (the "Pass/No Pass" option may be chosen), by passing an Illinois course offered to graduate students equivalent to FR 501 (e.g. GER 501), or through a proficiency exam administered by a department at the University of Illinois.

Ph.D. students in French Linguistics who wish to receive course credit for the Ph.D. Concentration in Romance Linguistics should take a Romance language for their modern foreign language requirement, as defined in the Program Catalog. Students may fulfill this requirement by passing a fourth-semester course with the grade of B or better, or by demonstrating equivalent ability by examination.

Note: the foreign language requirement may be fulfilled after passing the Ph.D. preliminary examination.

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5.3 Ph.D. Qualifying Examination (French Studies)

Detailed guidelines for the Ph.D. qualifying examination in French Studies

The Ph.D. qualifying examination in French Studies should be scheduled early in the fourth semester of the Ph.D. stage of graduate study (usually no later than March of the second year of Ph.D. courses).

The examination is conducted in French. 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 Renaissance; 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. This may be one of the two periods chosen for the M.A. examination, or one of the two periods remaining for the Ph.D. qualifying examination. This additional list should be designed in consultation with the relevant faculty member. 

Note: there is no Ph.D. qualifying examination for students in French Linguistics, French SLATE, or Italian Studies.

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5.4 Preliminary Examination

French Studies

Detailed guidelines for the Ph.D. preliminary examination in French Studies

After 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. 

French Linguistics and SLATE

The preliminary examination is based on a reading list approved by the exam committee and on the thesis proposal. It will include a written and an oral part. The exam result (Pass, Fail) will be reported to the Graduate College. If the preliminary examination results in a grade of "Fail," it may be retaken once. A student who fails the preliminary examination a second time must withdraw from the program. Appeals may be considered only on grounds of alleged unfair treatment and would be directed to the FRIT Graduate Studies Committee.

A French/French dictionary may be used for the written portion of the preliminary exam.

Prelims should be scheduled normally about 2 years after beginning doctoral course work. Before scheduling, the director of research or academic advisor as well as the Director of Graduate Studies should check the student's record to make sure 32 hours have been taken. No outstanding Incompletes are permitted.

Preliminary examination logistics (all specializations)

At least four weeks before the student's examination and as early as possible, the chair of the examination committee sends a completed Request to Schedule Ph.D. Exam form to SLCL Graduate Student Services. On this form, the chair is asked to provide a date, time, and room preference for both the written and oral parts of the preliminary exams. The committee chair will also list all the committee members. After receiving the completed form, Graduate Services will fill out and submit the Request for Appointment of Doctoral Examination Committee form. This is sent to the Graduate College, which must approve the constitution of the committee.

Graduate College examination policies and procedures are detailed in the Graduate College Handbook.

The committee should include 4 voting members. At least 3 must be Graduate faculty; at least 2, tenured. At least 2 members of the committee must be in the Department of French and Italian.

All committee members need not be physically present for the preliminary exam. If not present, they must participate in the examination via "appropriate electronic communication technology" (usually Zoom or Skype).

The approved examination committee must render a unanimous decision, reported on a form provided by SLCL Graduate Student Services to the chair of the committee. The form is returned to Graduate Student Services.

The Director of Graduate Studies should be advised of the projected date of the prelims.

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5.5 Guidelines Regarding Dissertation Direction

Any changes in the doctoral committee should be made by the director of research and communicated by the director of research to the rest of the committee, to the Director of Graduate Studies, and to Graduate Student Services in a timely fashion, in no case less than 90 days before the scheduled defense date.

The final draft of the dissertation should be distributed to the doctoral committee a minimum of three weeks before the scheduled defense.

Each member of the doctoral committee should submit in written form to the candidate and director of research the changes they require to be made before the thesis may be deposited.

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5.6 Thesis Defense or "Final Examination"

The Ph.D. thesis defense is called the "Final Examination" in the Graduate College Handbook. The student's director of research requests the defense committee just as for prelims (see above). According to Graduate College recommendations, this committee should be appointed as early as possible after the prelims. There is no time limit on the committee's approved service other than the length of time the student is permitted to complete the degree.

Note: At least 2 members of the thesis defense committee must be faculty in the Department of French and Italian. The director of research does not have to be a member of the Graduate Faculty, but the committee chair does. The constitution of the defense committee does not have to be exactly the same as that of the prelims committee.

In exceptional cases, some committee members may not be present for the defense. As in the case of the prelims committee, if members are not present, they must participate in the defense via "appropriate electronic communication technology" (usually Zoom or Skype). The candidate passes the final exam if the director(s) of research vote "Pass" and no more than one of the remaining committee members votes "Fail." The results of the defense are reported on an examination result form provided by SLCL Graduate Student Services and sent to the Graduate College. The chair of the defense committee will also have received from the Graduate College a Supplemental Grade Report for the student. This changes all the 599s from DF (Deferred Grade) to either S (Satisfactory) or U (Unsatisfactory) depending on the decision of the committee. The director of research or the chair of the defense committee must sign this form after the defense and forward it to Graduate Student Services. At the conclusion of the defense, the committee shall also sign a Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form and forward it to Graduate Student Services. The Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form is also signed by the Department Head once the student is ready to deposit the thesis.

Students should advertise their defense by contacting SLCL Graduate Student Services, who will prepare a flyer and distribute it (through email and around FLB) about a week before the defense.

Students and their director of research should contact SLCL Graduate Student Services after the defense has been successfully completed.

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5.7 Thesis Deposit

Students and directors of research should consult the Thesis guidelines available from the Graduate College.

SLCL Graduate Student Services must approve the format of the final version of the thesis before the student takes it to be checked at the Graduate College Thesis Office. See Thesis Format Rules below.

Please also see and use this checklist for graduating doctoral students provided by the Graduate College.

The SLCL Graduate Student Services office must be notified when the thesis has been deposited so that they can verify that the student's name is on the appropriate degree list.

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5.7.1 Thesis Format Rules

The Director of Graduate Studies is required to approve the format of a Ph.D. thesis before it can be deposited. This format check takes place after the thesis has been defended and all final changes have been made to its contents. A format approval form must accompany the thesis, in addition to the Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form. Shortly after degree conferral for each graduation period, the Graduate College transfers the theses of graduates to IDEALS, the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship. IDEALS is the digital repository for research and scholarship produced at Illinois and contains over 40,000 graduate theses. Dissertations are made publicly available through various release options: they should look like professional work, hence the university's requirement for the format check.

The format check concerns matters of typography, spacing, reference style, title page format, table of contents format, and so on. There are very specific guidelines for some of these items from the thesis office, but in addition every discipline has discipline-specific formatting that must be adhered to. In our case, this usually means the most recent edition of either the Chicago Manual of Style, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, or the MLA Handbook, with a preference for the first, which is used almost universally by book publishers. Students may consult the Chicago Manual of Style in the French Library (2142 FLB) or online (login required; VPN required for off-campus access). Thesis advisors should inform students about an accepted style sheet for dissertations in each of our areas of study (for instance, linguistics usually follows a different format than literary studies).

Students writing a dissertation should follow the appropriate style guidelines from the moment they start to write. Any style manual used in our fields is acceptable, as long as it is approved by the thesis director and followed consistently. The Graduate College also provides formatting guidelines (note that these are not discipline-specific). 

The Graduate College holds workshops on depositing the thesis, typically in early September and in March.

Issues such as typography and spacing are very important, but in addition it is absolutely essential for the student to proofread the thesis very carefully. Typographical errors, spelling mistakes, errors in proper names, grammatical mistakes, and glaring inconsistencies are simply not acceptable after final revisions. The format check performed by SLCL Graduate Student Services is not proofreading or editing; the student is responsible for these types of review.

It is a good idea to bring sample pages to the Director of Graduate Studies for a preliminary format check.

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5.8 Student Checklist for Preliminary Examination and Thesis Defense

  • One month prior to preliminary or final examination, submit a Request to Schedule PhD Exam to SLCL Graduate Student Services.
  • One month prior to the preliminary or final examination, reserve a room for the examination through SLCL Graduate Student Services.
  • Two weeks prior to preliminary or final examination, reserve any AV equipment.
  • Ten days prior to final examination, give SLCL Graduate Student Services information for a flyer announcing the thesis defense to the public.
  • After the examination, forward signed paperwork to SLCL Graduate Student Services.
  • Notify the Director of Graduate Studies of the examination results.

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6. Graduate Minors, Concentrations and Certificates

Graduate students are encouraged to consider the completion of a minor, concentration, or certificate during their course of study. Before pursuing any of these additional qualifications, students should consult with their academic advisor about its usefulness and feasibility.

A graduate minor is an approved program in a secondary area of study that relates to, but is outside of a student’s chosen specialization and may be included on an academic transcript. The following minors may be of particular interest to graduate students in French and Italian:

African Studies

Cinema Studies

College Teaching

European Union Studies

Gender and Women's Studies

Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Museum Studies

Queer Studies

See a complete list of currently offered minors.

Note: Credit used toward the completion of a minor may not be applied toward the completion of any other transcripted credential (i.e., course work completed for one minor cannot be counted toward another minor nor toward the major degree).


The following concentrations may be of particular interest to graduate students in French:

Medieval Studies

Romance Linguistics

Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education (SLATE) 


The following certificates may be of particular interest to graduate students in French:

Criticism and Interpretive Theory

Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

Graduate Teacher Certificate

Graduate Certificate in Translation

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7. Graduate College and Campus Resources

The Graduate College Career Development office offers many resources that students will find useful at different stages of graduate study.

The Graduate College also organizes workshops to help students' professional development.

Check the Graduate College Calendar of Events for Graduate Student Professional Development for details about workshop offerings each semester.

Workshops offered at least once during the academic year, usually each semester, include:

  • Faculty Job Search workshops
  • Industry & Nonprofit Job Search workshops
  • Career Exploration groups

Various other professional development events are offered throughout the year and are listed on the Graduate College's Calendar of Events.

The Graduate College also offers workshops and other resources about topics including External Fellowships and Mentoring.

The Illinois Writers' Workshop frequently holds presentations for graduate students on topics such as: organizing and staying on track with complex writing processes, incorporating feedback, composing job market materials, and more.

The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning offers many resources for graduate teaching assistants.

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8. Grants and Fellowships

Students should discuss grant and fellowship opportunities with their advisor and regularly consult the website of the Graduate College Fellowship Office.

The most common Graduate College applications handled by the department are:

  • Graduate College (GC) Dissertation Research Travel Grant and Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Students must be nominated by the Department, and the number of nominations allowed for each cycle is limited. The Director of Graduate Studies is responsible for selecting and forwarding students' application to the Graduate College. All applications for a GC Dissertation Travel Grant and a GC Dissertation Completion Fellowship must be completed by the student, checked by the dissertation advisor and fully ready for the DGS to review at least three weeks prior to the Graduate College deadline.
  • FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) Fellowships provide $15,000 for the academic year for students concentrating (mainly) in non-Western languages or area studies. U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible. Summer fellowships are available for intensive foreign language study. The U.S. Department of Education provides grants to area studies centers, which in turn award the fellowships.
  • The School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics (SLCL) offers competitive Dissertation Completion Fellowships to Ph.D. students in the School. Application forms can be found on the SLCL Graduate Student Services webpage.

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8.1 Guidelines for Applying for Financial Support to Present a Paper at a Conference

Students must consult with their faculty advisor and other relevant faculty members to identify appropriate conferences, select papers to submit, and seek advice on revising them.

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8.1.1 Graduate College Support

Students should apply for Conference Travel Grants from the Graduate College, which has a competition once a semester (usually in September and February). Students may apply for one Conference Travel Grant per year and may apply retroactively to cover a conference attended during the previous semester or summer.

In advance of the internal departmental deadline (announced in an email by the Director of Graduate Studies every semester), students can apply by emailing the DGS the following documents:

  • A completed application form;
  • A short statement (one paragraph) explaining the relevance of the paper and conference to their research objectives;
  • The paper title and abstract as submitted to the conference;
  • A conference program or e-mail from the conference organizers showing that the paper was accepted (students can provide a URL link to the conference program if applicable);
  • A short statement of support from their faculty advisor.

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8.1.2 Support from the Department of French & Italian

Funding for Graduate Conference Travel
Graduate students presenting at conferences enhance the Department's visibility and public image. The Department of French & Italian is therefore committed to supporting graduate students who wish to present original contributions to their discipline at scholarly conferences, and considers such presentations a clear sign of academic progress.

Who and why?
Pending satisfactory progress towards degree, students enrolled in any of the Department's graduate programs can apply once per year for travel funding to a national or international, professional-level conference (i.e. conferences where the presenters are mostly faculty). Graduate-level conferences (i.e. conferences where the presenters are mostly graduate students) are eligible for funding once during a student's M.A. and Ph.D. course of study. When reviewing applications, preference will be given to students who have not yet received conference travel funding.

How much?
Pending available funding, amounts for travel support will be as follows:

  • Domestic conference travel: 75%, up to a maximum of $600, of actual cost of giving a scholarly presentation at the conference, excluding expenses for food and subtracting any other funding, such as a travel award from the Graduate College.
  • International conference travel: 75%, up to a maximum of $800, of actual cost of giving a scholarly presentation at the conference, excluding expenses for food and subtracting any other funding, such as a travel award from the Graduate College.
  • Travel to the MLA, LSA, AAAL or comparable conference for the purpose of a job interview: 75 %, up to a maximum of $800, of actual cost, excluding expenses for food and subtracting any other funding.
  • Travel to the MLA, LSA, and AAAL conferences for the sole purpose of presenting a paper will be treated as travel to a national or international conference, whichever applies.

How to proceed?
Students will submit to the Director of Graduate Studies, at least 4 weeks in advance of the conference dates:

  • the completed Department Graduate Travel application form.
  • a short letter or email of support from the supervising faculty member (in case of international travel, supervising faculty members will be asked to explain why travel to the conference is important to their advisee's progress to degree)
  • the date of a practice presentation in the Department's or other speaker series and research groups, to obtain timely feedback from faculty and students knowledgeable in the area of study.

Upon their return from the conference, students must submit the following receipts and documentation to the FRIT Office Manager:

  • the employee reimbursement form filled out as best as possible with all information known to students. This form is located on the SLCL website: log in by clicking on the padlock in the upper right hand corner, go to "Business Office Forms" and find the form on the list of forms shown on the page.
  • original receipts for lodging, transportation, conference registration attached to the reimbursement form. The receipts should be neatly taped on one side of a plain piece of paper, if they are smaller than 8.5" x 11". 
  • a print out from the conference website and a copy of the program with the student's name included in the relevant session(s). Failing that, a copy of an email in which the student is identified as a speaker or presenter will suffice.

It takes a few weeks to receive partial reimbursement of expenses after the request has been submitted to the FRIT Office Manager. 

8.2 External PhD Research and Dissertation Completion Fellowships

PhD students at the dissertation stage are encouraged to apply for external dissertation fellowships, in consultation with their advisor.

List of relevant external fellowships for FRIT graduate students

Please consult each organization's website for up-to-date guidelines and deadlines.

9. Departmental Prizes

The Department of French and Italian awards graduate prizes in two categories: 1) the Biennial Prize for Best Essay, and 2) the Kathryn A. Looney Awards for Excellence in Teaching French and the Department of French & Italian Awards for Excellence in Teaching Italian, for outstanding teaching assistants. Prize recipients must be graduate students in the department.

The Biennial Prize for Best Essay competition is held every two years. Three prizes are awarded: one in French Studies, one in French Applied Linguistics and SLATE, and one in Italian Studies. Essays are nominated by FRIT faculty members, and submitted anonymously (without the name of the student). The Head of the department chooses three to four faculty members to form a committee that selects the winning essays. Papers are submitted in the language in which they were originally written, French, Italian or English. The prize carries a $150 stipend.

The Kathryn A. Looney Awards for Excellence in Teaching French and the Department of French & Italian Awards for Excellence in Teaching Italian are given every year. Outstanding teaching assistants are selected by the Department's Committee on Fellowships and Awards. There are two categories, junior (second-year TAs) and senior (third year and beyond). Faculty members in a supervisory position in the upper-level courses taught by graduate students are asked to nominate candidates. The committee examines letters of nomination from course coordinators and faculty supervisors, class visit reports and students' evaluations. Each award carries a stipend of $150.

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10. Teaching Opportunities in Italy, France and Francophone Countries

The Department of French and Italian oversees a number of exchange positions in Italy, France and Francophone countries.

In French, two positions are available to students at any time during their graduate studies; four others are reserved for doctoral students. Not all these positions are filled every year.

Open to M.A level students in French:

  • Lecturer position at the Université Laval, Québec City
  • Lecturer position at the Université de Bourgogne, Dijon

Open to Ph.D. students in French:

  • Lecturer position at the Université de Lorraine
  • Lecturer position at the Université de Liège
  • Lecturer position at the Université de Poitiers
  • Lecturer position at the École normale supérieure - lettres et sciences humaines de Lyon

Ph.D. students in French may also apply to teach for the Illinois Program in Paris.

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11. Graduate Student Teaching Assistantships

11.1 Department Policy Regarding Graduate Teaching Assistant Appointments

The following guidelines have been developed to ensure appropriate coordination between teaching assistant (TA) or research assistant (RA) appointments and graduate study within the department. As such, they apply to the appointment of all teaching/research assistants in French and Italian, with the exception of non-degree exchange TAs and Illinois students while participating in exchange programs. The Department adheres to the Graduate College policies on assistantships.

  • Financial aid shall be limited to 12 semesters for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees combined, with a limit of 4 semesters for the M.A. degree. Students entering the Ph.D. program with an M.A. degree or the equivalent from other institutions shall be limited to 8 semesters of financial aid, excluding summer teaching appointments and participation in exchange programs.
  • The level of support for first-year students shall be determined by the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid in consultation with the Head in accordance with available funds. Appointments to teaching/research assistantships thereafter will normally be limited to one-half time (50% FTE), budgetary conditions permitting.
  • Degree students with assistantships will be required to register for at least 8 hours of course work in French or Italian per semester, until completion of Ph.D. preliminary examinations.
  • In order that the Department may make its TA appointments in an orderly fashion for the subsequent academic year, master's students wishing to be admitted to a doctoral program in the Department should take the M.A. examination by the end of February of their fourth semester.

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11.1.1 Criteria for Reappointment

Criteria for reappointment shall be based on both academic and teaching performance.

The academic standards satisfactory for reappointment of a teaching assistant shall be defined in terms of a minimum grade point average of 3.25 and not more than one incomplete grade per semester. First semester students who have fallen below the specified grade point average by the end of the semester may be given a contract for the following year contingent upon achieving the specified average by the end of the academic year.

As to satisfactory teaching performance, it is expected that teaching assistants considered for reappointment will have adhered to the provisions defined below.

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11.2 Responsibilities of Graduate Student Teaching Assistants

In conducting their classes, Graduate Teaching Assistants (TAs) are to follow the syllabus and the guidelines set forth by the Director of Basic Language and Course Coordinators.

TAs are required to follow the requirements outlined below, which are also found in the "TA Roles and Responsibilities" document distributed at the start of the academic year.

TAs who are assigned to teach advanced courses (200-level and above) should also consult the document outlining "200-level TA Roles and Responsibilities."

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11.2.1 Contract Dates and Presence on Campus Contractual Dates

  • All TAs will be available to begin work on the start date of the contract before the Fall semester through the end date of the contract in the Spring semester (August 16th through May 15th). Fall Presence

  • New TAs are required to be on campus on the start date of the contract in the Fall.
  • Returning Teaching Assistants are required to be on campus no later than 9am the Thursday before classes start, unless teaching a course that requires physical presence at an earlier date. Before making travel arrangements, TAs are expected to confirm with their Director of Basic Language (DBL).
  • All TAs must remain on campus until the date indicated semester-by-semester by their DBL.
  • All TAs must return materials to the DBL before leaving campus. Spring Presence

  • All TAs are required to be physically present on campus no later than 9am the Friday prior to the first day of classes in the Spring semester, unless teaching a course that requires physical presence at an earlier date. Before making travel arrangements, TAs are expected to confirm with their DBL.
  • All TAs must remain on campus through the contract end date (May 15th). An earlier date may be indicated semester-by-semester by their DBL.
  • All TAs must return materials before leaving campus. Vacation and Holidays

  • TAs are expected to be physically present for regularly scheduled course dates, all scheduled meetings, and required professional development sessions.
  • TAs must be reachable by phone or email and respond within 48 hours during fall break, winter recess, and spring break for time-sensitive grading- and teaching-related matters. Absences

  • TAs will not be permitted to be absent from class or cancel any class meeting without consulting their DBL.
  • Commonly approved reasons for absences include: conference attendance, emergencies, illnesses, and family events (e.g., weddings, funerals). Absences to attend on-campus events and/or professional development sessions required by a class must be requested at least one week in advance and will be granted depending on availability of substitutes.
  • Any TA who is not able to teach a scheduled class for an approved reason must, after consulting their DBL, find a substitute and include the coordinator and DBL in any and all correspondence pertaining to such an absence. Substitutes must be approved by the DBL. Requesting a substitute should be a rare event.
  • Vacations are not permitted during regularly scheduled courses. Meetings, Workshops, and Orientations

  • TAs will attend all required meetings, workshops, and orientations, unless prior permission to be absent from such activities is accorded.

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11.2.2 Teaching Expectations Teaching Methods

  • TAs will teach in accordance with the methodology underlying the philosophy of teaching of the French and Italian Language Programs, as projected by the DBL and course coordinators. Instruction in Target Language

  • TAs are expected to teach in the target language (French or Italian), with only a limited, judicious use of English. Syllabus and Materials

  • TAs are expected to adhere to the syllabus and cover material on the date prescribed in the syllabus.
  • TAs may not change exam dates or dates of major assignments as outlined on the course syllabus.
  • If at any point a TA is not on schedule, the TA should communicate this information to their DBL. Timeliness and Preparation

  • TAs are expected to arrive in their classrooms on time and fully prepared. Similarly, TAs are expected to end class on time. Records and Student Feedback

  • TAs are expected to keep accurate records of student attendance and participation.
  • TAs are expected to return graded assignments/assessments and feedback in a prompt manner (no more than 1 week after submission for quizzes and tests and no more than 2 weeks for compositions).
  • TAs must maintain copies of exams and records of grades and attendance for 1 calendar year after the end of the semester. If leaving campus before that year passes, TAs are expected to leave these files with their DBL. Exam and Quiz Creation

  • TAs will participate in quiz and exam creation process as directed and by following the exam creation timeline (unless exceptions are granted). This may involve writing, pointing out typos and mistakes, and/or reviewing exams and quizzes.
  • TAs will communicate with the coordinator and/or DBL to review final exam drafts. They will make any necessary changes to drafts and submit them to the coordinator for printing, as per the dates stipulated on the schedule. DRES Accommodations

  • TAs will inform the DBL of all DRES accommodations in their courses and are encouraged to meet together with their DBL and the student requesting accommodations. Daily Lesson Planning

  • TAs are expected to create their own daily lesson plans based on the course calendar and syllabus.
  • Lesson plans should take into account timing, transitions, and sequencing of selected activities/tasks.

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11.3 Evaluation of Graduate Teaching Assistants

11.3.1 Evaluation by Students

Teaching Assistants are to administer the ICES student evaluation form each semester and to release the report to the Department Head.

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11.3.2 Observing Other Sections or Courses

New TAs are required to observe a designated experienced instructor of the same class they teach for the first four weeks of the semester. Exceptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Continuing observations are encouraged.

All TAs teaching a course new to them are encouraged to observe an experienced instructor of the same course as needed.

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11.3.3 Observations and Evaluations

TAs may be observed by the DBL or coordinator at any point in the semester at the request of the TA, the coordinators, or the DBL.

New TAs will be observed and evaluated in writing at least twice in the first year. Pending satisfactory performance, continuing TAs will be evaluated in writing once per year. TAs will be notified that they will be observed at least one week in advance. These observations and written evaluations will be conducted by the DBL or another faculty member and will be a part of the TAs’ official record. The DBL or faculty member observing the TA will provide a written observation report to the TA within 2 weeks of the observation.

TAs will fully participate in their evaluation process, which may include pre-observation meetings, post-observation meetings and, in those rare instances where necessary, unannounced classroom visits by the DBL.

TAs may request an alternate evaluation date if they feel that the evaluation is not representative of their typical teaching (e.g., late arrival by observer, unusual student behavior, misrepresentation of TA’s teaching ability).

In the case where improvement is needed, the DBL and TA will devise and agree upon a professional development plan, to which the TA is expected to adhere.

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11.4 Communication

11.4.1 Professionalism

TAs will conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner toward course coordinators, DBL, and students. This includes appropriate language, correspondence, and behavior. They can expect the same professional and respectful behavior from their DBL and coordinator.

All official correspondence will be communicated through Illinois platforms (i.e. meeting requests, observation requests, information regarding check in/out meetings for materials and debriefs, important and urgent information regarding sections, etc.).

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11.4.2 Timely Communication

TAs will respond to all emails, requests, or directives from their course coordinators or DBL in a timely manner (within 24 hours for time-sensitive requests and 48-hours for all others) unless circumstances render this impossible; they can also expect their own queries to be answered by their coordinator or DBL within the same timeframe. Timely responses to emails are particularly important.

TAs are expected to document all student issues as they arise and to communicate all cases of academic misconduct, discipline problems, etc., to their course coordinators and DBL in a timely fashion. In particular, cases of prolonged absences (more than one week), or major missed or failed assignments must be reported by TAs to both course coordinators and the DBL immediately.

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11.4.3 Office Hours

TAs will establish, publicize, and respect reasonable office hours. TAs will hold one office hour per course taught during regular business hours, except in the case of courses taught outside of regular business hours.

Teaching Assistants are expected to document all student issues as they arise and to communicate all instances of cheating, disciplinary problems, etc., with their supervisors in a timely manner. In all cases, the Student Code should be followed.

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11.5 Desk Copies

Copies of textbooks used in the classes taught by Teachings Assistants will be distributed by the Department and remain the property of the Department after being used. They are to be turned in at the end of the semester.

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11.6 Grade Books

Grade books are available from the Department and must be returned to the Director of Basic Language at the end of each semester.

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12. Ethical Conduct

The Department subscribes to the standards of academic integrity outlined in the Student Code, which provides definitions, descriptions and, as regards plagiarism, a series of clear examples. The Code also outlines the procedures to be followed to adjudicate infractions of these standards. In addition, a mandatory ethics seminar is given every fall to all incoming graduate students by the Director of Graduate Studies.

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13. Grievances

TAs may contact the Grievance Committee in the case of any complaints or queries regarding their status, condition of employment, or any other matter with direct effects on their professional welfare, according to section III.B.2 of the departmental bylaws, “The Committee for Grievance and Mediation.” This Committee consists of two faculty members appointed each year by the Head and one graduate student selected by graduate students in French and Italian.

For cases involving discrimination, sexual misconduct, matters of religious beliefs, observances, or practices, or capricious grading, procedures are described in the Student Code.

For grievance procedures in other cases, see the Graduate College Handbook.

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14. Policy on Sexual Misconduct

The Department subscribes to the policy on sexual misconduct outlined in the Student Code, which states:

  • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (“University”) is committed to providing a safe and welcoming campus environment free from discrimination based on sex, which includes sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, sexual harassment, dating violence, and domestic violence (collectively referred to as sexual misconduct). The University prohibits and will not tolerate sexual misconduct because such behavior violates the University’s institutional values, adversely impacts the University’s community interest, and interferes with the University’s mission. The University also prohibits retaliation against any person who, in good faith, reports or discloses a violation of this policy, files a complaint, and/or otherwise participates in an investigation, proceeding, complaint, or hearing under this policy. Once the University becomes aware of an incident of sexual misconduct, the University will promptly and effectively respond in a manner designed to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.
  • Reporting and grievance procedures are published on the websites of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and the Office of the Dean of Students.

The Department also subscribes to the Student Code statement on consenting sexual relationships (§ 1-109):

  • University guidelines on responsible professional conduct state that individuals assessing the work of others should base their assessments on appropriate professional criteria. Due to the inherent conflicts of interest, no individual should initiate or participate in institutional or educational decisions involving a direct benefit or penalty to a person with whom that individual has or has had a sexual relationship. Where supervisory or student teacher relationships exist between husband and wife, or members of a couple, whether married or not, it is the responsibility of the teacher or supervisor to alert his/her supervisor so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

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15. Graduate Students in French and Italian (GSFRIT)

Graduate Students of French and Italian (GSFRIT) is an organization that includes all graduate students affiliated with the Department of French and Italian. GSFRIT represents the interests of graduate students to the department. GSFRIT also organizes social activities throughout the year in which graduate students and others can participate.

The only qualifications for membership are graduate student status and TA (or RA) appointment in the Department of French and Italian, whether or not a student is enrolled in one of the Department's graduate programs. Dues are not required in order to participate in GSFRIT. However, a completely voluntary membership fee has been in place to help support GSFRIT activities. Those who pay the fee can receive discounts on GSFRIT-sponsored events.

Through this organization, students are able to voice their opinions, and be assured that GSFRIT collective decisions are given consideration in the various departmental committees formulating policies regarding students.

The following is a partial list of elected GSFRIT Officers and Representatives:

Co-Presidents (one representative from French and one from Italian): calls and conducts meeting, represents GSFRIT before the Head of the department, appoints members to internal committees of GSFRIT.

Vice-president: assists Presidents in above duties, assumes functions of President when they are unable to perform duties.

Secretary/Treasurer: takes minutes of meetings, prepares and distributes minutes to all GSFRIT members, and is responsible for GSFRIT correspondence, is responsible for GSFRIT bookkeeping/finances.

GEO Steward (2): Represents the GSFRIT in the Graduate Employees Organization, attending relevant meetings and updating members on union activities.

Conference Funding Committee (2- one from French and one from Italian): Decide on criteria of the distribution of funds for conference travel, chooses recipients of these funds, and distributes these funds.

Representative (1) to the Faculty (1): Attends faculty meetings as a non-voting observer, brings student concerns to the faculty and reports back to the GSFRIT.

Representatives (2) on Graduate Policy Committee: This committee is responsible for all aspects of the graduate program, including admissions.

Representative (1) on the Graduate Student Grievance Committee: This committee reviews specific appeals, complaints or queries from members of the graduate student body regarding their status, condition of employment, or any other matter with direct effects on their professional welfare.

Representative (1) on the Capricious Grading Committee: The student representative must have had teaching experience. This committee receives complaints of students on alleged capricious grading by instructors.

GSFRIT has a Facebook page listing current activities, events and other relevant information:

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