University of Minnesota
Department of French & Italian

Department of French & Italian home page.

Current Students

Studying toward the MA and PhD

Remember to consult our Handbook for all official departmental policy.

MA Sequence

The MA sequence in French is a two-year course of study that provides a foundation for the more specialized work of doctoral studies. You will increase your expertise in textual analysis and critical methods, gain greater knowledge of the historical and social context that shapes literature as well as the impact that literary studies may have on society, and secure comprehensive knowledge of the French and Francophone literature.


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(for the “Plan B” option, chosen by most students):

  • Coursework (usually at least 33 credits or 11 courses)
    • 5 courses from the major
    • 2 courses in a related field outside the program
    • 3 additional courses
  • Pedagogical Training Seminar (FrIT 5999 or equivalent) unless exempted
  • Basic skills in another foreign language (one year college language or equivalent)
  • Two extended written projects developed from seminar papers (or a masters thesis)
  • Your MA reading list (PDF) (created in consultation with your committee)
  • The MA examination (written and oral portions), taken Spring semester of the second year.

You may also choose to complete a Masters Thesis Track (Plan A), with slightly different requirements. Please consult the DGS for more information on this option.

PhD Sequence

The doctoral program in French prepares you to work as a researcher, scholar, and teacher. Through seminars on a range of topics, you will refine your theoretical and methodological skills. You may also choose a minor field of study in such related fields as Art History; Spanish; German; African Studies; Comparative Literature; and Cultural Studies; Gender, Womens and Sexuality Studies, Early Modern Studies; or Medieval Studies.


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  • Coursework (at least 57 course credits and 24 thesis credits)
    • at least 45 credits (or 15 courses) in French Studies, including those taken during the MA sequence or transferred from another graduate institution
    • at least 12 credits (usually 4 courses) in a minor or related field. Many minor fields require additional credit; check with the appropriate program.
    • 24 thesis credits (taken the first two semesters you are ABD)
  • Proficiency in a language suitable as a research tool, other than French or English.
  • Students specializing in literature of periods prior to 1600, must demonstrate knowledge of Latin.
  • Students specializing in literature of the Medieval Period must demonstrate knowledge of Old French.

Preliminary Examination

  • Preparation for the preliminary exam develops broad knowledge of the discipline of French and Francophone studies, knowledge of a specific field within that discipline, and the research skills required for writing a dissertation. The exam itself is a detailed response to a set of questions, written over the course of two weeks. Preparation for the preliminary exam includes:
  • A bibliography designating the major texts in the literary and critical tradition in your research area (25-50 titles)
  • An extensive critical review essay (25-50 pp.) presenting and analyzing scholarship that defines the specific field in which the dissertation will be situated. A description and assessment of issues currently under consideration in the field, this essay has a much more important function than an annotated bibliography: it gives you the opportunity to survey in depth the domain within which you will eventually stake out your own research agenda.
  • An outside paper

University of Minnesota Students outside the Program

Graduate Minor in French

We encourage students earning a MA or PhD in a related field to add a Minor in French to their degree program.
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Such a minor lends breadth to students' programs while deepening their understanding of the field of inquiry, theoretical engagement, and methodologies of French Studies today and allowing them to refine the linguistic skills necessary for advanced research and scholarly communication in the francophone world.

In consultation with their advisor in their home department and the DGS in French, students wishing to complete the minor must plan to complete at least nine credits for an MA minor or twelve credits for the PhD minor, chosen from the 5xxx-8xxx-level course offerings of the Department of French and Italian.

Graduate Language Requirement (MA and PhD)

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You may determine the language requirement, if any, for your major field and degree by consulting your department's website (Degree Programs and Faculty) or by consulting with your advisor or DGS. When a major field requires a language, it is the Graduate School that monitors the fulfillment of language study.

The Department of French and Italian certifies two levels of language proficiency.

You may fulfill the MA-level Foreign Language Proficiency requirement by:

  • completing 4 semesters of graduate or undergraduate language courses with a grade of B or better. If you have already studied a language, keep in mind that the coursework necessary to fulfill the requirement must have been taken within 5 years of proficiency certification. (Your program's DGS may certify compliance with this requirement on GS 82A.)
  • passing French or Italian 100 (Reading French in the Arts and Sciences), usually offered one semester per year, during the summer, and as a distance-learning course. The French or Italian Program will certify the passing grade.
  • passing an aptitude test arranged with the DGS in French or the Director of the Italian Program.

You may fulfill the Higher Proficiency Language Requirement by:

  • taking upper division undergraduate (topics level) or graduate coursework within 5 years of applying for certification. (Your program's DGS may certify compliance with this requirement on GS 82A.)
  • passing an aptitude test arranged with the DGS in French or the Director of the Italian Program.
  • Proficiency in French or Italian can be certified in one of two ways. The following forms may be downloaded from the Graduate School.
  • The Departmental Language Certification form (GS 82A) is submitted by your own major department when you have met that department's requirements. This information is recorded in your file—not on your transcript. This form simply states that you have demonstrated proficiency, along with your name and the signature of your advisor and your program's Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).
  • The Department of French and Italian completes the Language Department Certification of Foreign Language Proficiency form (GS 82), indicating that you have met proficiency according to the language department's criteria. This is recorded in your file and on your transcript. This certification becomes part of the official record and can be used in the future to certify your knowledge. This form provides information on what you did to achieve proficiency.

Fellowships, Exchange, and Research Opportunities

A variety of University, national, and international fellowships, exchanges, and research opportunities are available to students.

Students are advised that successful graduate fellowship applications increase their competitiveness when applying for jobs by demonstrating that they stand out among their peers. There is nothing to lose from applying, and everything to gain!

Moreover, while the Department of French and Italian does its utmost to support its students, they should also seek resources beyond the Department. This is one way for students to show their willingness to engage with the larger intellectual community.

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Departmental Travel Funds

As a graduate student, funds are available to you for travel to give a refereed paper at a conference, fulfill a library or archive fellowship, or attend other competitive programs (such as Cornell School of Criticism and Theory or Dartmouth Cultural Studies Institute). No more than one presentation at a graduate-student conference will be funded in a student's career.

You should make your request by writing a brief letter to the Chair detailing the nature of the academic work for which you need to travel, and a brief estimate of expenses based on available figures. There is a limited amount of money each year so it is important to act quickly at the beginning of each school year with your request. However, if a conference comes up later in the school year that you would like to attend do not hesitate to talk with the Chair as there may still be funding available.

In order to receive travel funds not only must you attend the conference, you must also present research that you have undertaken during the course of your graduate studies or otherwise work on research integral to your degree. You should work with your Advisory Committee to find conferences that corresponds with your interests and your goals.

Summer Fellowships

These fellowships are awarded for summer research to outstanding students making timely progress on their degrees.

Exchange Fellowships

The Department participates in exchanges with two French university partners, the Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7) and the Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier). The purpose of these exchange programs is to provide graduate students the opportunity to teach and study for a year in France at a stage in their graduate career when this opportunity will be of maximum benefit, allowing them to pursue their research and to gain enhanced linguistic and cultural fluency.

University Fellowships

The College of Liberal Arts Graduate Research Partnership Program (GRPP) is a graduate student fellowship program that supports research partnerships between faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and students enrolled in graduate programs housed within the college. The program provides a summer research stipend to CLA graduate students to support their professional, scholarly, and creative development while collaborating with a CLA faculty project adviser on scholarly research and creative activity.

Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships

The Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship funds the final year of dissertation writing for outstanding graduate students. It allows students to devote all of their time to research and writing, without any teaching responsibilities.

Graduate School Thesis Research Grants

These grants support thesis research, including research abroad for six weeks to six months. Three competitions are held annually.

Harold Leonard Memorial Fellowship in Film Study

This fellowship is open to graduate students proposing a year of well-defined research or study in film history, criticism, theory, or aesthetics.

Norman Johnston Dewitt Fellowship

This fellowship supports advanced graduate students in the humanities.

Thomas H. Shevlin Fellowship

This fellowship supports graduate students in the biological and agricultural sciences, basic physical and medical sciences, and liberal arts.

William W. Stout Fellowship

This fellowship supports graduate students in the humanities or social sciences who are in the intermediate years of the PhD

Thomas F. Wallace Fellowship

This fellowship supports graduate students in the humanities or social sciences who are in the intermediate years of the PhD

Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowships

These fellowships are awarded to outstanding Graduate School students whose current or proposed dissertation topic is interdisciplinary and who would benefit from interaction with faculty at one of the University-wide, interdisciplinary research centers or institutes. Our students apply for affiliation with the Institute for Advanced Study.

National and International Fellowships

There are multiple opportunities for research funding, year-long or for shorter periods. These include the Fulbright Fellowship (for a year of research in any country), the Bourse Chateaubriand en sciences sociales et littérature (for a year of research in France), the fellowships of the Institute Français d'Amérique, and a number of awards within particular fields (students should consult their advisors).

Contact Information

Graduate Program
For additional information contact

Further information is available from the Graduate School

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