M.A. in French
- Oral Proficiency Exam : Non-native speakers of French must take the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview administered by the Department and receive a rating of at least “advanced low” during their first semester. Depending on the results of this test, up to 6 credits of advanced French language courses and phonetics may be required.
- French 825 : Non-native speakers of French must complete French 825 (Cours de grammaire et de style) with a grade of B or above during their first year. In rare cases, students with near-native proficiency may be exempted upon faculty recommendation to the Graduate Studies Committee. Language competence is an important component of graduate studies, and performance in this area is assessed on an ongoing basis by the faculty, who may take it into consideration in their course grades.
- French 626 : French 626, an introduction to critical reading practices, must be taken in the first semester it is offered.
- French 820 : Students who teach in the Department must take French 820 either before beginning to teach or concurrently with their first semester of teaching (see Teaching, p. 5).
- Distribution Requirement : For the M.A., students must take a course or seminar in four of the seven areas of our program (Medieval, 16th through 20th centuries, and Francophonie).
- Exchange Program Course Work : Please note that courses taken while graduate students are participating in one of our exchange programs abroad do not usually count toward the completion of departmental degree requirements, although exceptions may be considered if students can provide adequate documentation of their written work, and if the Graduate Studies Committee finds the work completed abroad to be comparable to a graduate course or seminar offered in our Department.
- Minimum Credits : The Graduate School requires at least 16 credits (300 level or above) for the M.A.
- M.A. Thesis, Seminars : There is no M.A. thesis, and no seminar requirement for the M.A.
return to top
The M.A. Examination
- Purpose, Timing, Content, Sign-up Period : The M.A. exam is usually taken by the end of the fourth semester of study, although earlier is possible; it must be taken before the fifth semester of study. Given three times a year, it tests students’ mastery of a broad range of texts fundamental to French and Francophone studies and their ability to analyze texts, answer questions, and present arguments. The exam is based on a reading list available in 611 Van Hise and from the Graduate Coordinator. To take the exam, students sign up with the Graduate Coordinator by April 30 th for the August exam; for the January and April exams they will be informed of sign-up deadlines.
- Format : The written part of the M.A. exam lasts a total of 5 hours. In Part I (1 hour), students must choose one of three broad essay topics. Part I may be answered in English or in French. In Part II (3 hours), students are given a choice of two questions within each of the seven areas in our program. They must answer one question in each of six of the seven areas (30 minutes per answer). Part II must be answered in French. It is recommended the last of the 5 hours allotted for the exam be spent on revision.
- Use of Materials, Academic Misconduct : Students are not allowed any notes, documents, electronic files, or books (with the exception of a dictionary). M.A. exams can be handwritten, but if students prefer to use their laptop computers or department computers, they should be aware that they are not allowed to consult any files or websites. As with all other methods of evaluating students’ performance in the program, such as course assignments, the Department conforms to university regulations governing academic misconduct. Students should refer to the following university website to familiarize themselves with the definition of and the serious consequences of academic misconduct.
- Oral Exam : A student who fails the written part of the M.A. exam will not take the oral part. The oral usually takes place within a week after the written examination and is conducted entirely in French. It lasts about 45 minutes. Forty-eight hours before the oral, the candidate will be told which three books from the M.A. list will be used for selections and for the oral exam. Two hours before the exam, the student will receive three short extracts, one from each of the books, and s/he will inform the Graduate Coordinator which extract s/he will analyze. The candidate will prepare an analysis of this extract in a classroom reserved for this purpose. There s/he will not have access to a computer but will write notes by hand that may be brought to the exam, and may use a dictionary in the preparation of these notes. During the exam the candidate will give an analysis in French of the extract chosen, lasting approximately twenty minutes. This will be followed by a period of questions, some of which may pertain to the candidate's written exam.
- Weak Passes , Failures : Students who are passable but weak on the oral part of the M.A. exam receive the M.A. degree but are not be accepted into the Ph.D. program. In some cases, these students may be allowed to retake the oral exam one time if they wish to be reconsidered for admission into the Ph.D. program. If a student fails either part of the M.A. exam, s/he has one chance to retake it at the next exam session. In order to postpone the retake until a later session, the student must make a written request to the Graduate Studies Committee.
return to top
Advisors and Mentors
Upon entering the department, students are alphabetically assigned to one of two graduate advisors. Students consult their advisor each semester about which courses to take.
By the time they take the M.A. exam, students must choose a faculty member as a mentor and inform the Graduate Studies Committee of their choice. Mentors help students explore areas of interest and give advice about professional development. Although students may change mentors until they begin preparing the Special Topic preliminary exam, they should inform a faculty member if they have chosen another mentor. Students should plan to remain with the mentors they have chosen by the time they write the Special Topic proposal, since the mentor will usually be a member of the Special Topic Committee and the Dissertation Committee.
return to top
Advice About the M.A. Exam
Preparing for the Written Exam
- Select courses to fill gaps in your background.
- As much as possible, coordinate the reading list and course work.
- Take notes on all the reading you do for the exam.
- Formulate a coherent and feasible reading program.
- Form study groups with fellow students to discuss works from the list, and perhaps also arrange informal discussions with specialists among the faculty.
- Do not limit your reading to the texts on the list; also consult critical studies of literary movements, genres and cultural background. Feel free to ask faculty for suggestions.
- Consult past exam questions to familiarize yourself with the format, and use them as practice. Past exam questions can be obtained from the Graduate Coordinator.
Answering Written Exam Questions
- Draft a quick outline before you write, and, time permitting, reread and polish what you have written.
- Answer the specific questions asked analytically. Avoid simply giving a plot summary, but be sure to show good familiarity with the works.
- Support your arguments with specific examples from the texts.
Preparing for the Oral Exam
- Consult with the chair of the M.A. Exam Committee if you have questions about expectations for the presentation of your explication de texte.
- Prepare good notes that will allow you to speak extemporaneously. Practice your explication at least once out loud, and be sure to time yourself.
return to top
Criteria for Satisfactory Progress
- GPA : Minimum of a 3.0 grade point average
- Course Load : Minimum of 9 credits taken each semester, generally consisting of 3 courses or seminars, not necessarily in the Department of French and Italian.
- Auditing : Students are allowed to audit a 4th course as long as they officially register as auditors, do all the reading, and participate in class discussions (auditors are not allowed in seminars). During the course of their graduate studies, students will be allowed to count a total of 3 audited courses toward the breadth and distribution requirements. Only 1 of these 3 may be in a single area (Medieval, 5 centuries, and Francophonie). Circumstances under which students may take 1 of their 3 (as opposed to 4) courses as an audit:
- Teaching 2 sections as a TA
- Preparing for the M.A. exam
- Preparing for the preliminary/special topic exam
- Timely completion of M.A. requirements: The M.A. exam is usually taken by the end of the 4th semester of study, although earlier is possible. All requirements including the M.A. exam should be satisfied before the beginning of the 5th semester of graduate studies.
return to top
French M.A. Reading List
Revised May 2010
At the bottom of this page, you will see a link to upload the current reading list entitled "MA Reading List 2010.pdf".
return to top