Graduate Studies in French

Graduate French Program


About the program

Our M.A. and Ph.D. programs offer training in language, literature, literary history, critical theory, film, cultural studies, Francophone studies, gender studies, romance philology, methods of research, and foreign language pedagogy.

Each year courses and seminars are offered in all historical periods of French literature, as well as in literary theory, cultural studies, Francophone studies, and language pedagogy. Consequently, students for the M.A. degree can fulfill course requirements in any given two-year period, and candidates for the Ph.D. can complete course requirements for the Ph.D. within two years of obtaining their M.A. Our program is designed to allow well qualified students to complete the M.A. in three semesters, and all other requirements for the Ph.D. except the dissertation in four more semesters. Well prepared students can therefore obtain their Ph.D. degree five years after entering the program at the pre-M.A. level.

Fellowships are available for high-ranking incoming students and also advanced dissertators. The department has a number of teaching assistantships which are granted on the basis of a candidate's previous academic record, knowledge of French, and seriousness of purpose in pursuing the Ph.D. For those students who have no teaching experience, a carefully supervised in-service training program is provided, which is particularly valuable for future career placement. The department has a residential French House adjacent to Madison's picturesque Lake Mendota. The House supports a wide variety of scholarly and cultural activities, including lectures by international scholars and writers, colloquia by faculty and graduate students, and regularly scheduled festivities. A graduate symposium held each spring allows students to gain experience in giving scholarly lectures.

Mellon Fellows and persons holding other major national grants in French are invited to bring them to our program. The Department of French and Italian will undertake to provide subsequent financial support through teaching assistantships for such persons.

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Application information

***Please Note: If you have received only a Bachelor's degree and intend to go on to a PhD after completing your MA, please apply directly to the PhD program!

We hope you will consider applying to our program. We offer an M.A. and Ph.d. in French and Italian, as well as a Professional Graduate Certificate of French Studies and a Master of Professional French Studies Degree. For those interested in applying for the Professional Graduate Certificate of French Studies or the Master of Professional French Studies Degree please refer to the PFMP page.

Applicants for the MA or PhD in French or Italian must submit all application materials by the application deadline of December 20. International students may have different deadlines due to the extra processing time required for visas and I-20 or IAP-66 forms. Please refer to International Student Services for more information.

Graduate School Application
Please refer to the following links:

  • Consult the Graduate School website for complete information about graduate education opportunities at UW-Madison. This site is especially helpful in understanding Admissions Requirements developing a Timeline for application.
  • You will need to list 3 people who will write letters of recommendation for you. They should be in faculty or permanent academic staff positions. Since the Graduate School will contact your recommenders directly via e-mail once you have completed your online application, you should be sure to contact each recommender at least a month prior to when the letter of recommendation is needed to let them know that they will be contacted directly by the Graduate School
  • Submit the on-line Graduate School Application for Admission and pay the application fee.
  • GRE (For North American Students Only) institution code 1846 for UW-Madison. GRE scores help applicants for University Fellowships.
  • Non-native English speakers must also submit results for the TOEFL or MELAB exams. Please note that the Graduate School requires that these scores be no older than 2 years old. This is calculated from the start of the term for which you are applying, NOT the date on which we receive your application.

Materials to be sent to the Department:

  • two copies of your official transcripts (not photocopies)
  • statement of reasons for graduate study (This is not necessary for applicants who submit the Statement with the on-line application.)
  • TA/Fellowship Application: To be considered for Teaching Assistantship or Fellowship support, you must submit to the department a document listing all relevant experience since you began studying French. There is no specific application form - it is a document, much like a CV, that you put together yourself. Include travel, study, or residence abroad. For teaching experience, be specific about subject, level, actual classroom hours/week, and age of students. Also indicate undergraduate and graduate honors, and how you would support yourself if UW was not able to offer support.
  • writing sample (essay or paper in French - usually between 7-12 pages in length)
  • a list of French literature and French civilization courses taken and grades received
  • If your referees are sending hard copies of your letters of recommendation to the department and are not electing to submit the letters electronically, you must print, fill out, and send this recommendation form to your recommender, who needs to include it with their letter.
These application materials should be sent to:

Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of French and Italian
608 Van Hise Hall
1220 Linden Drive
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706

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Financial Assistance

The Department of French and Italian is very sensitive to the financial needs of its students and will do everything in its power to offer graduate students the monetary support that they need. In most cases, the department offers four-year guarantees of support (for students with no prior graduate work) and three-year guarantees of support (for students with prior graduate work) to incoming students. During this period of guaranteed support, students usually hold a fellowship or teaching assistantship. Decisions on support are made in February and offers are usually sent out in early March.

Current or most recent Teaching Assistant and Fellowship stipends are posted by the Graduate School's Office of Fellowships and Funding Resources.

The three major sources of funding for graduate students are:

Teaching Assistantships

The most common form of support in our department, Teaching Assistantships offer the pedagogical experience and training necessary to be competitive on the academic job market.

The basic Teaching Assistantship in our department is at the level of 36% time. Teaching assistants are classified as "experienced" when they have completed at least one and two-thirds semesters of teaching as defined by the collective bargaining agreement. This definition includes completion of the campus level workshops addressing diversity issues. A teaching assistant who has the required teaching experience of one and two-thirds semesters but has not completed the campus training will be given one semester during which pay can be at the experienced rate while training is completed. Teaching Assistants are classified as "senior" when they have completed one and two-thirds semesters of teaching, and have completed all coursework and department requirements for candidacy for a Ph.D.

All teaching assistants with combined graduate assistant appointments of one-third time or more will receive a remission of out-of-state tuition as well as a remission of in-state fees. They must still pay segregated fees and special fees approved by the state legislature. A remission earned for the spring semester will also qualify the graduate student for a remission in the following summer.

Another important feature of a teaching assistantship at this level is the availability of an excellent health insurance program and sick leave benefits.

Fellowships & Departmental Awards

The Department nominates its top candidates for Two-Year Recruitment Fellowships. Advanced Opportunity Fellowships are also available to minority and disadvantaged students. Fellowship recipients also receive a full tuition waiver. Fellows who want to register for the summer receive a remission of out-of-state tuition, but pay resident tuition. These fellowships also provide eligibility for an excellent health insurance program.

The Department is sometimes able to offer a few Departmental Awards for the first year or two of graduate study. Departmental Awards will be awarded concurrently with Teaching Assistantships.

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If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!