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M.A. Guidelines

The M.A. program in French shares Vanderbilt University’s reputation for excellence in research and teaching and the advantages of its relatively small size. The M.A. degree, completed in two years (four semesters), provides students with broad understanding of French and Francophone literature and culture. Successful performance on a written exam, taken early in the fourth semester, is required to complete the M.A. degree.

The online application for graduate study is free of charge.

Degree Requirements

36 credit hours of course work (9 courses).  With the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies, students may take up to two courses in departments other than French & Italian.  In the student’s first year, a minimum of three courses each semester must be taken in the department.

Required Course Distribution for the M.A.

French 310 (4 credit hours)
French 380 (4 credit hours)
2 Foundations: Medieval/Early Modern (8 credit hours)
2 Foundations: Post 18th-Century (8 credit hours)
2 Special Topics or Interdisciplinary Course (8 credit hours)
1 Additional course (Foundations, TMS, Special Topics, or Elective)

Diagnostic Language Examination A diagnostic language examination will be given to all incoming graduate students. This exam, coordinated by the language program director and the Director of Graduate Studies, includes a 30-minute “free-write” and a 15-minute oral interview. The results of this test will serve to plan the student’s program of study, which may include 200-level advanced language courses. These courses will be taken in addition to the regular graduate course load and, per graduate school rules, will be non-credit bearing.

Comprehensive Examination

The M.A. examination is based on an approved reading list. It must be taken in no later than one week before classes start in the student’s third semester of study. The format will be an overnight, take-home, open-book examination to test the student’s ability to read and interpret specific textual passages and to teach literature through thinking about works in a global fashion.  The exam will be written by members of the Graduate Studies Committee and administered by the Director of Graduate Studies.

The examination will be evaluated by the Graduate Studies Committee according to two separate criteria: (1) quality of argument, depth and appropriate use of background knowledge, and analytic skills; and (2) linguistic competence and eloquence.

The Graduate Studies Committee can recommend one of the following three outcomes:  High Pass, Low Pass, or Fail. The graduate faculty of the Department must review and approve the evaluation by the Graduate Studies committee before notifying the student of the outcome of the examination.  In the event of a failing grade, the student will be given the option to retake the failed exam.

Faculty Review

By February 1 of the student’s fourth semester in the program, department faculty will make a comprehensive review of the individual’s academic work, based on the following evidence: course work, examination results, as well as an evaluation from the language program director in regard to teaching performance (where applicable).  Students who show clear evidence of excellence and promise will receive the M.A. and be invited to continue toward the Ph.D.

If the student completes the M.A. requirements and passes the M.A. exam but is not admitted to the Ph.D. program, they will earn a terminal M.A. degree at the end of their fourth semester.

M.A. Milestones (Summary)

Year One, first semester:  Diagnostic Language Exam

Year Two, second semester:  M.A. exam (no later than one week before classes begin)

Year Two, second semester:  Faculty review, M.A. awarded, admission to Ph.D. program (if appropriate)

M.A. Reading list

Complete Description of the M.A. and Ph.D.Curriculum

Useful Forms for M.A. and Ph.D. Students