Apr 17, 2024  
Graduate Record 2015-2016 
Graduate Record 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED RECORD]


Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs

Return to: Graduate School of Arts & Sciences: Departments/Programs  

Cabell Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400770
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4770
(434) 924-7158

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts

Whether an end in itself, or a preparation for the Ph.D, the M.A. is a broad and general degree, drawing upon the materials and methods of French (and closely allied) studies to extend and deepen the candidate’s humanistic background and competencies. The program’s prime goals thus include the following: broad knowledge and understanding of French culture from its origins to the present; effective teaching skills built through training and experience; tools of intellectual inquiry necessary for further study, including abstract thinking and research skills; mastery of the French language.

Course Requirements

Coursework (ten courses or thirty credits) and a comprehensive examination (with both written and oral components) are the essential elements of our M.A. degree. A minimum of twenty-four credits (usually eight courses) must be taken in the department. Nine credits must focus on pre-1800 topics; nine on post-1750 topics.  All courses are selected in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor. We also offer the opportunity to work with individual faculty directors on a research thesis at the M.A. level.

Comprehensive Examination

The M.A. exam consists of a two-part written and an oral, covering a broad chronological spectrum of French and Francophone Studies from the Middle Ages to the present. Students are responsible for familiarity with a reading list composed of a selection of representative works from a variety of genres. The exams are typically taken in the spring semester of the student’s second year. One of the three parts of the exam is conducted in English. No student passes whose French and English are not deemed by the examining committee to be sufficiently fluent and correct. 

All parts of the examination must be passed; in case of failure, any part of the comprehensive examination may be retaken only once, normally at a make-up session held two weeks later.

Part One of the written examination is a 2-hour textual commentary based on the close reading of a passage distributed to exam candidates 72 hours prior to the examination date. Part Two is a 4-hour written exam. Questions will be distributed on Monday afternoon. The examination is to be completed and returned by Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m.

Like the written portion of the exam, the 75-minute oral examination covers all works on the reading list. It includes: (1) a twenty-minute oral presentation, based either on a course paper or on independent research, followed by discussion of that paper and; (2) general questions on the reading list.

Time Limit

The M.A. degree is normally completed in four semesters. The graduate studies committee must be petitioned for any extension. By GSAS regulations, the absolute time limit for completion of the degree is five years.

Review and Permission to Take Further Course Work

At the end of the first year, individual progress is reviewed. The director submits to the faculty a report and evidence of insufficient progress, if the need arises.

Immediately after completion of the master’s comprehensive examination, each candidate who wishes to take further course work must petition the director for consideration by the faculty. Evidence to be considered includes grades, M.A. examination results, and faculty reports. Continuance is conditional upon satisfactory progress toward completion of the doctoral program; permission to take further course work does not entail admission to candidacy for the degree of Ph.D., which follows upon successful completion of the Ph.D. preliminary examinations.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. is a closely supervised research degree, emphasizing (1) extensive advanced work in specialized field; (2) a high degree of sophistication in appropriate aspects of theory and methods; and (3) proficiency in the expository, investigative and linguistic skills required in the chief modes of professional writing.


To begin doctoral work, the prospective candidate normally holds the University of Virginia M.A. degree in French and has permission to take further course work, as outlined above.

A student entering with an M.A. degree (or the equivalent) from another institution is considered for permission to take further course work after completing all requirements for the University of Virginia M.A. in French not satisfied by courses taken (or proficiency achieved) elsewhere. A student admitted without deficiency shall be considered for permission to take further course work after two semesters (twenty-four hours) of doctoral courses completed in this department.

Doctoral Committee

Students with an M.A. from outside UVA will be appointed a faculty advisor for their first semester or two at UVA.  During their first year, they will secure the agreement of a faculty member in the Department to serve as their Doctoral Committee Director.
All students entering the Ph.D. program (with an M.A. from UVA or elsewhere) will choose, in consultation with their Doctoral Committee Director (DCD), two additional committee members (and secure their agreement to serve) by May 1 of their first year in the doctoral program. At that time, they are required to complete a Doctoral Committee Declaration Form (available on the Departmental website) and to return it to the French Department Office, where it will be kept on file. The Doctoral Committee (DC) will thus initially consist of three members, at least two of whom will be Graduate Faculty in French. As the dissertation progresses, the candidate will choose, in consultation with the DCD, a fourth member for the committee, a Dean’s Representative who is a tenured or tenure-track professor in a department other than French in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The DC confers with the student each semester on such matters as long-range goals, choice of research field, selection of courses, deadlines and strategies for the satisfaction of degree requirements, as well as the rate and quality of the student’s progress. In addition, the DC is responsible for administering the preliminary examinations. As the need arises, the DC may be changed by petition to the GSC from the student or any faculty member on the DC.

A period of at least three months must elapse between changes in the composition of the DC and the taking of the preliminary examinations, (see also “Dissertation,” below).

Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

(1) Six (6) courses (18 credit hours) beyond the M.A. for students holding an M.A. from UVA or a minimum of eight (8) courses (24 credit hours) for students entering the doctoral program with an M.A. from another institution  (2) reading knowledge of an additional language; (3) a preliminary examination (see below for details); (4) dissertation and final oral examination defense.

All courses must be taken at the 7000 level or above.

Ph.D. students are normally required to serve as graduate instructors and may therefore expect to take the practicum, FREN 7040 (Theories and Methods of Language Teaching), which is required of all teaching assistants in the first semester of teaching.

By GSAS rule, total time in the Ph.D. program after the B.A. must be at least three sessions (academic years) and total credits of graduate study (excluding non-topical research, but including independent study) must be at least 24 (eight three-credit courses).

Language Requirement

To fulfill the general reading knowledge requirement of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the student pursuing the Ph.D. in French may not present that language, but should present another Romance language or German, or any other language approved by the DC.  This is done by satisfactory performance on a written proficiency examination, which is completed with a dictionary.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examination takes place in the fall of the candidate’s second year in the Ph.D. program and consists of a written essay exam and an oral defense of the dissertation proposal. In both parts of the exam, the candidate is expected to demonstrate sound knowledge of a reading list composed of two parts: one on the main field of inquiry of the dissertation and the other on a secondary field closely related to and broadening the dissertation topic (chronologically, thematically, theoretically, etc.). Other criteria for evaluation include demonstration of comprehension of the question and synthetic and analytic thinking; overall coherence and logic of response; and clear articulation of position in relation to major scholarship in the field. The written exam response is composed in the language of the future dissertation, as is the oral exam presentation; during the oral exam, questions in French and in English will be asked.

No student passes whose French or English is deemed by the DC to be inadequate. All parts of the examination must be passed. In case of unsatisfactory performance, only the part failed must be retaken. Only one reexamination is permitted on any part.


Students are expected to complete all pre-dissertation requirements, including coursework, language proficiency examinations, and qualifying examinations, by the conclusion of their seventh term of study. Upon the successful completion of the preliminary examinations, the candidate will begin work on the dissertation.  In order to receive a “Satisfactory” grade in their NTR in the first semester of dissertation writing, candidates must submit a draft of their first chapter to their DCD and five a public oral presentation of the chapter at a forum held before the end of the semester.

Final Oral Examination (“defense”)

Once the candidate has completed all other requirements (including the Language Requirement), and the dissertation has been approved by the DC, the DCD will schedule the Final Oral Examination at a time that is acceptable to the candidate and to all members of the Dissertation Committee. A copy of the dissertation must be available in the French Department Office for one week preceding the Oral Examination, so that it may be available to other members of the Department.

At the Final Oral Examination, the DC examines the candidate upon such phases of the major subject and of allied subjects as the Committee deems appropriate.  The DCD chairs the examination, sets the rules of procedure, and has the power to set prior limits to the time allotted each examiner.

Course Descriptions

Note: To enroll in courses numbered 5000 or above, all graduate or special students must have completed the equivalent of three years in the appropriate foreign language at the college level. All 5000-level courses are taught on the graduate level; Prerequisite for undergraduates to enroll in 5000-level courses is successful completion of two 4000-level courses with a grade of B or higher and permission of the instructor. For courses numbered 8000 or above, graduate status in the department or special permission is required.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs