The doctoral program in French Language & Literature provides each student with a thorough knowledge of French and Francophone literature, its history, and its major works. The program offers professional preparation through the acquisition of extensive knowledge of the field of study; advanced skills in the use, evaluation, and production of critical scholarly and research materials; experience communicating knowledge in a range of contexts; and substantial training in pedagogy and other relevant practical and professional training.

Financial support

The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Romance Studies guarantee five full years of financial support for doctoral students who maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Degree Requirements

  • Fulfill all requirements of the MA in French Language & Literature
  • A near-native command of written and spoken French
  • Eight courses on French literature, cinema, theory, or cultural studies at the 500-level or above (in addition to those required for the MA). The department’s theory seminar is required, as are all offered 800 level French classes.
  • Successful completion and defense of two qualifying papers
  • Successful completion and defense of the doctoral dissertation
  • Completion of the Curricular Practical Training Requirement
  • Completion of appropriate coursework (LL 690, LL 691 A & B) and training in pedagogy, as per departmental and GRS policies
  • Demonstration of reading knowledge of at least one other non-English language (in addition to French).

Post-BA & Post-MA Admission

We welcome applications to the doctoral program both from students who have already earned an MA elsewhere and from those who wish to enter the program directly after completing their BA.

Post-BA students complete the requirements of the master’s degree first, then proceed to the doctorate requirements, earning their MA en route to the PhD.

Pending review, post-MA students can typically fulfill the MA requirement of eight courses through the coursework they did for their MA degree. Post-MA students do still need to pass the MA comprehensive exam, although if they have taken a comparable exam as part of their prior MA, they may be able to waive that requirement as well.


Following is a general optimal timetable for the completion of the PhD.

  • Year 1
    • Eight courses, consisting of: One theory seminar; One pedagogy class; and Six classes on French literature and film.
  • Year 2
    • Post-BA:  Six classes on French literature and film; 2nd pedagogy class
    • Post-MA:  Comprehensive exam; 2nd pedagogy class; Qualifying papers and defense thereof
  • Year 3
    • Post-BA:  Comprehensive exam; Two courses on French literature and film (typically fulfilled through two directed studies on the topics of the qualifying papers); Qualifying papers and defense thereof; Dissertation prospectus finished by end of year
    • Post-MA:  Dissertation prospectus finished by mid-year; Research toward the dissertation.
  • Year 4
    • Research and writing of the dissertation; 3rd and final pedagogy class
  • Year 5
    • Completion of the dissertation, including oral defense thereof, by the end of the year.

Under Graduate School policy, students may take up to seven years to complete their doctoral degree. 

Learning Outcomes

  • Mastery and appreciation of language and literature in French in a global context and from all historical periods
  • Near-native mastery of the French language
  • The skilled application of research methodologies and techniques in order to produce and defend an original and significant contribution to knowledge in the field
  • Ability to communicate and teach specific works and literary concepts at the college and university level
  • Adherence to ethical standards in the discipline

Additional details can be found in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Bulletin.