skip to content

Bulletin Archive

This archived information is dated to the 2010-11 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Doctor of Philosophy in French

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 training as scholars and as prospective university faculty.

Students admitted to the program work closely with the Chair 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.


Students must complete the requirements outlined in the "General Requirements for the Ph.D. in French or Italian" section of this bulletin, as well as the requirements outlined following.


Attaining a native or near-native fluency in French is the responsibility of all candidates in the Ph.D. program and a requirement to qualify for the Ph.D. degree.

Upon entering the program, candidates must take the OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) with the Language Center to determine their fluency in French. An advanced level or above must have been reached by the time candidates take their qualifying exams in the Autumn Quarter of the second year of study. If a student fails to score in the advanced bracket of the OPI test upon entering, he or she is tested again at the beginning of the second year. It is the responsibility of the candidates to design a course of study to improve their proficiency in French during the first summer, for instance by applying to a French language program. Candidates should discuss these plans with the Chair of Graduate Studies well in advance.

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 the adviser as a function of the student's area of specialization. Such proficiency may be demonstrated either by completing a third-year level or above undergraduate course; or, more recommended, 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.

© Stanford University - Office of the Registrar. Archive of the Stanford Bulletin 2010-11. Terms of Use | Copyright Complaints