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Course Work and Requirements

Students pursuing the Master of Arts degree must take a total of 30 credits (10 graduate level courses) beyond the B.A.  Ordinarily, they will take all course work within the French Department, with the exception of three credits of work outside of the Department but germane to the field of French and Francophone studies (subject to the approval of the Graduate Director.

Thesis Option

In lieu of six credits of course work the student may, with special permission, choose to write a thesis.  While working on the thesis they will register for two semesters (3 credits per semester) of "Research in French" (420:701 & 702).  When the thesis option is chosen, the student will take the M.A. Exam (see below) during the semester in which they complete the 30 credits required for the degree.  The M.A. thesis will be written under the direction of a member of the French Graduate Faculty and approved by two other members of the French department.  An oral defense of the thesis is required.  The defense will serve in lieu of the oral portion of the M.A. Exam; students will only be required to take, and receive a passing grade on, the written portion of that exam.

M.A. Exam

The M.A. examination is administered by a three-member committee, named by the Graduate Program Director for a one-year term following a strict rotation basis.  The examination is based on a fixed standard list (see below) and allows the candidate to demonstrate their knowledge of French and Francophone literature from the Middle Ages to the present and their ability to analyze literary works with appropriate interpretative frames. The examination includes both a written and an oral component.

The written exam consists of three questions that will be posed to all candidates sitting for the exam in a given cycle. Each candidate will answer two of the three questions, with two hours to answer each question, separated by a short break. One question must be answered in French and one in English. The exam will be taken in the department on an internet-disconnected computer or, if preferred, by hand in a blue book. Handwritten notes and other printed materials may be brought to the exam room and consulted. Written exam questions will call on knowledge of multiple periods, genres, and/or contexts. If the student's performance on the exam is deemed a 'pass' by two out of three of the members of the examining committee, the student is then permitted to go on to the oral examination.

The oral exam is conducted by the full committee approximately one week after the written exam, and lasts 60 minutes. Questions may be asked in either French or English. Oral examination questions will allow the candidate to further develop analyses presented in the written exam, and they may also bear on knowledge of individual works-- including items on the list not addressed in the written examination. The committee meets in closed session at the end of the oral exam to discuss the candidate’s performance on both portions of the examination, and awards a grade of pass or fail.

Should the candidate fail the written portion of the exam, they may retake the exam no later than 75 days after the initial written exam. Should the candidate fail the oral portion of the exam, they may retake the exam no later than 30 days after the initial oral exam. No more than one retake is allowed.

Application Forms

At least one week before the oral portion of the M.A. Exam, a Masters Degree Application must be obtained from the School of Graduate Studies website and filled in (student portion only) by each candidate and sent to the Graduate Director.  Please include in the list of classes taken those which are still in progress--just omit the entry for "grade," which the Graduate Director will supply at the end of the semester once grades have been assigned.  Please note that the forms cannot be submitted until all class work for the 30 credits is completed and grades assigned.  Please note that this means that for a student taking the M.A. Exam in the spring semester, the official degree conferral date will be in October of the same year (assuming all class work has been completed and graded by the first week of August).

Time Limit

Full-time students are expected to complete the M.A. in 1-3 years; part-time students in 3-5 years.  Applications for extensions must be made on an annual basis and must have the approval of the Graduate Director and the School of Graduate Studies.