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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

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Doctor of Philosophy in French

The Department of French and Italian offers three Ph.D. programs: a Ph.D. in French, a Ph.D. in Italian, and a Ph.D. in French and Italian. Requirements for each separate Ph.D. program are listed first, followed by general requirements. All requirements are binding.


The Department of French and Italian provides students with the opportunity to pursue advanced work in French language, literature, cultural history, theory, and Francophone studies within a uniquely flexible interdisciplinary framework. Unlike conventional Ph.D. programs, it encourages students to construct a highly individualized course of study, integrating specialization in a particular literary period or area with work in such fields as art history, classics, film studies, the history of science and technology, linguistics, literary theory, music, and philosophy. The program is founded on the belief that such a balance between period/area specialization and interdisciplinary breadth is not only desirable but essential in a field such as French Studies. Students in the Ph.D. program are normally admitted as French Fellows on a four- to five-year fellowship plan that integrates their financial support with rigorous training as scholars and as prospective university faculty.

Students admitted to the program work closely with the Director of Graduate Studies in structuring a plan consistent with their needs and interests. Aside from the benefits of the program's flexible structure, a number of unique resources are available to students. The French section's exchange program with the Ecole Normale Supťrieure provides candidates (selected on a competitive basis) with the opportunity to pursue dissertation research in Paris.

Language Requirements—Attaining a native or near-native fluency in French is the individual responsibility of all candidates in the Ph.D. program, and remedial course work needed to achieve such fluency cannot count towards the Ph.D. degree. In addition, candidates are required to achieve a high level of proficiency in one additional foreign language, with the language in question to be determined by the student and his or her adviser as a function of the student's area of specialization. Such proficiency may be demonstrated either by successfully completing a third-year level or above undergraduate course or, better, a graduate seminar in the language in question; or by passing an exam that establishes a third-year or above level of competence in writing, reading, and speaking. (In no case is passage of a standard reading competence exam considered sufficient.) In the case of ancient Greek and Latin, a high level of proficiency means a level superior to a second year collegiate level of proficiency in reading and writing.

The second foreign language requirement should be completed as soon as possible, but in any case not later than the end of the third year for students who entered the program without an M.A., and not later than the end of the second year for students who entered the program with a master's degree. Completion of the language requirements is a prerequisite for taking the University Oral Examination.

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