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Ph. D. Guidelines

Degree Requirements

• 36 credit hours of course work as required for the M.A.
• 16 additional credit (4 courses), for a total of 52 (13 courses)
• Required course distribution for Ph.D. (includes courses taken for 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)
5 Additional courses (Foundations, TMS, Special Topics, or Elective)

Ph.D. Milestones

  • Year Two, semester two: Student admitted to Ph.D. program upon faculty review of M.A. performance. Qualifying exam committee established and areas of specialization and reading list approved by committee (no later than finals week).
  • Year Three, preceding summer: Qualifying Exam preparation
  1. Semester one: Qualifying Exams (no later than one week before classes begin), language reading exam or coursework completed (no later than end of semester).
  2. Semester two: presentation of dissertation proposal (no later than one week before classes begin). ABD status
  • Year Four: Dissertation
  • Year Five: Dissertation and job search
  • Reading Knowledge of an Additional Language
In addition to French and English, candidates must demonstrate a reading knowledge of an additional language, to be determined in consultation with the student’s dissertation advisor.
Students may demonstrate this knowledge either by receiving a B+ or higher in a 200-level literature course in the language or by a test to show ability to do research in the foreign language.
The language test will consist of a passage in the target language consisting of two or three paragraphs taken from an academic article, which may or may not be directly related to the student’s area of specialization.  The student will translate the passage into English, writing by hand with the use of a bilingual dictionary. The exam will take place in the department, with no computer, and last two hours.
The translation should demonstrate that the student has sufficient understanding of the target language for research purposes. This means that the translation should represent both the content and, to a certain degree, the style of the passage that is being translated.
Students must complete the language requirement by the fifth semester of study.
  • Choice of Specialization and Reading List
After completing the M.A. exam in the fourth semester of study, the student is expected to identify an area of specialization (including, but not limited to, the subject of the dissertation) and an appropriate exam committee is chosen. This committee should consist of five faculty members of which at least three must be from the department.
During the fourth semester, the student prepares an extensive reading list on this area of specialization, in consultation with the exam committee. The list must be sufficient to cover a major time period and must emphasize two components:
  • Historical, cultural, and theoretical backgrounds pertinent to the student’s projected dissertation.
  • Primary and secondary texts pertinent to the individual’s area of specialization.
The department does not impose numerical requirements on reading lists; the length of each list will be determined through consultation between the student and her or his exam committee members. These lists tend to fall between 50 and 75 texts. However, there has always been considerable variation, depending on the field and the student. Each student should have an early discussion with her or his exam committee members—in the fourth semester before submission of preliminary lists—that sets target numbers.

Qualifying Examinations

The Ph.D. qualifying examination consists of two parts: a series of written exam questions and an oral exam centered around the student’s dissertation proposal. The written exams must be completed before the beginning of TA orientation in the first semester of the student’s third year. The thesis proposal oral exam must be completed no later than one week before classes begin in the second semester of the student’s third year.
  • Written Examination
By the end of the second semester of the student’s second year, the student submits the completed reading list and six proposed examination topics/questions to the committee. The exam committee uses these questions as a basis for preparing the examination questions, but has the right to modify them, add to them, or discard them. The written examination takes place over two days (not necessarily consecutive) before TA orientation in the student’s first semester of the third year.  On each day, the student will have six hours to answer one or two essay questions. The student may consult any sources s/he chooses. At least one exam must be written in French. These exams may be taken at home.
Exam day 1: This part of the exam should reflect a broad understanding of the area in which the student is specializing
Exam day 2: This part of the exam should reflect a more focused understanding of the student’s area of specialization
The exam is evaluated PASS or FAIL by the doctoral committee by the end of the fourth week of the semester. The committee director communicates the result of the exam to the student. If one (or more) of the exam areas is considered weak, the student may be asked to repeat it. The exam committee will decide whether the student will retake the failed portion of the exam or whether a new question will be given. The student must retake the exam within one month of the first try.  If the student does not pass again, he or she will be dismissed from the program.  Once the student has successfully passed the written examination, the date of the thesis proposal oral exam will be set.
Dissertation Proposal
In the dissertation proposal, the candidate should clarify the nature of his/her dissertation, demonstrate its relevance, define its methodology, situate it in terms of existing scholarship, and include a tentative breakdown into chapters. The proposal should be 10-20 pages in length, plus a preliminary bibliography, and should be written in the language of the proposed dissertation (English or French). After consulting with the dissertation director, the proposal is circulated to all members of the graduate faculty.
  • Presentation of the Dissertation Proposal
At the beginning of the second semester of the student’s third year, a one-hour session is scheduled for the dissertation proposal. All faculty and graduate students in French are invited to attend. The exam committee, guided by the director, participates in a discussion with the student, asking clarifying questions and offering suggestions. The other invited members of the department may participate if time allows. At the end of the session, the doctoral committee deliberates and determines if the candidate’s proposal is acceptable. The following day, the director communicates the result of the discussion to the student.
If the student passes the dissertation proposal, the official dissertation committee is appointed.  If the student does not pass the proposal, they will have up to two months to rework the proposal and to sit for a second oral exam.  If the student does not pass the second exam, she or he may be dismissed from the program.
This official dissertation committee will consist of a dissertation director from within the department, three other department faculty, and an outside reader.  While the director is responsible for guiding the student through the dissertation process, it is understood that all members of the committee will consulted on a regular basis and will have an opportunity to provide substantive feedback on the student’s work.
Committee members must receive the final version of the thesis at least 6 weeks before the intended defense date.  No official defense date will be set until all committee members have had at least 2 weeks to review the final version of thesis and concur that the student is ready to defend.
All degree requirements must have been met (credit hours, course distribution, language exam) before the Graduate School will allow a defense date to be scheduled.

Specialization in Applied Linguistics

    After successfully completing the requisite 36 hours for the M.A. and the M.A. exam, students may choose to specialize in Applied Linguistics. They must complete 8 additional hours in French and a minimum of 12 additional hours in interdisciplinary courses taken outside the Department. These courses may be taken in the College of Arts & Science and in Peabody College. They are to form an integrated whole according to the research interests and background of each student. A course in research methodology is required; other courses may be in fields such as linguistics, psychology, cognition, statistics, and technology and learning. These interdisciplinary courses are selected in consultation with the student’s dissertation director, the Director of Graduate Studies, and faculty in related disciplines. The time frame and procedures for the examination and the presentation of the dissertation proposal are the same as those for students specializing in literature.

    NB: The cross-disciplinary course on Learning and Teaching Second/Foreign Languages (now called FREN 310 and SLS 310) is required for all graduate students and does not count toward the specialization in applied linguistics.

    Complete description of the MA and PhD Curriculum
    Useful Forms for M.A. and Ph.D. Students

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