PhD in French Language & Literature

The doctoral program provides a thorough professional preparation in the selected field of study through the acquisition of (1) skill in the use and critical evaluation of research materials; (2) a thorough knowledge of a specialized area; and (3) experience in the interpretation and communication of acquired knowledge and the results of original research.

Course Requirements

A minimum total of eight semester courses (32 credits) is required. At least three courses or seminars in the area of specialization are required; this requirement may be satisfied in part through directed study. The area of specialization is chosen at the beginning of doctoral study. It may focus upon a specific genre within a literature, the literature of a period, a genre within a period, or a problematic aspect of literature.

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least one language in addition to French that will be useful in their research work. In some areas of specialization, two or more languages may be required in order to ensure competence in continuing research and learning.

Qualifying Examinations

Qualification for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy is achieved as follows: (1) students who have not earned the Master of Arts in French at Boston University must take a written examination based on the General Reading List by December of their second year of coursework if such an exam was not required for the Master of Arts elsewhere; and (2) students must write substantial research papers (25–40 pages) on two significantly different topics in French literature, approved by the advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. One of the papers must be written in French. An oral examination based on these papers takes place not later than the end of the first semester of the third year of the PhD program.

Residency Requirement

Candidates must spend at least one academic year in residence as full-time students at the doctoral level before presenting themselves for qualifying examinations. (See General Requirements for the PhD in this Bulletin.)


See General Requirements for the PhD in this Bulletin.

Dissertation Prospectus

A detailed outline of the dissertation must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies, and subsequently to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. The department-approved prospectus is submitted to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Office on or before the date specified at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Graduation Information website.


An advisor is assigned to each student.


French Language & Literature

  • CAS LF 500 Phonetics and Diction
  • CAS LF 502 The Structure of French: Syntax
  • CAS LF 503 The Structure of French: Phonology
  • CAS LF 550 Studies in Eighteenth-Century French Literature
  • CAS LF 551 Modern French Theatre
  • CAS LF 552 French Romanticism
  • CAS LF 553 Molière
  • CAS LF 554 Émile Zola and Naturalism
  • CAS LF 555 The Epistolary Novel
  • CAS LF 556 French Cinema and Literature
  • CAS LF 558 Colonial Fictions: Modern French Writing and the Colonies
  • CAS LF 560 Seventeenth-Century Prose
  • CAS LF 561 Proust
  • CAS LF 562 The Age of Versailles
  • CAS LF 563 French Tragedy of the Seventeenth Century
  • CAS LF 564 Medieval Lyric
  • CAS LF 565 Medieval Courtly Literature
  • CAS LF 568 Topics in Literature and Film
  • CAS LF 569 Topics in Francophone Writing
  • CAS LF 570 Topics in Twentieth-Century/Twenty-First Century French Literature
  • CAS LF 571 Topics in Nineteenth-Century French Literature
  • CAS LF 574 Early French Renaissance
  • CAS LF 575 Later French Renaissance

Seminars and Directed Studies

  • GRS LF 860 Seminar: Topics in French Literature
  • GRS LF 951, 952 Directed Study: French Language and Literature