Graduate Student Program

The Department of French & Italian at CU-Boulder enjoys a national reputation, and is the only PhD granting department in the Rocky Mountain region. The department offers comprehensive coverage of all areas of French and Francophone literature, and has an outstanding record of placing its MA and PhD recipients in desirable positions of employment. The graduate program typically counts an enrollment of 20-25 students, drawn from both the US and several foreign countries, pursuing interests from the Middle Ages to twentieth-century and Francophone literatures.

CU Boulder New Consortium of Doctoral Studies in Literatures and Cultures

In an effort to recruit the most talented students, the University of Colorado Boulder will fundamentally restructure the support for doctoral studies in its six literature PhD programs with the new Consortium of Doctoral Studies in Literatures and Cultures.

Students accepted into the consortium programs will be guaranteed five years of support, of which the first and fifth years offer cost-of-living stipends and are free of teaching obligations. In the intervening years they will teach a reduced load and receive a substantial stipend during their four summers on campus. Students also will be encouraged to choose mentors from outside their departments, emphasizing a more cross-disciplinary approach. In combination with advising in literature, they might seek advising in law, popular culture or media, for example.  The consortium is also rethinking how the PhD in the humanities should be shaped in the coming decades. The Center for Humanities and the Arts received a coveted Next Generation PhD grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which brings 28 private and public universities together in an exchange of ideas and practices. Find out more about the new Consortium of Doctoral Studies in Literatures and Cultures here. Review the guidelines for a PhD in French Literature here.

The Boulder Area

The university is situated in Boulder, a town of 100,000 at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, 30 miles from downtown Denver. As part of the greater Denver metropolitan area, Boulder enjoys the advantages of a nearby large city–symphony, opera, museums, professional sports teams, art cinemas, alternative music, and diverse dining.

Boulder itself lies less than an hour from Rocky Mountain National Park, and is surrounded by an outstanding series of open-space lands and local parks, including both prairies and mountain forests with many trails. Boulder is a center for outdoor sports and recreation, throughout summer and winter. The site of several major research labs and high-tech companies, Boulder has a highly educated population that supports a wide array of restaurants, stores and cultural events. Its excellent public transit system is free to CU students.

The University of Colorado

The University enrolls approximately 30,000 students. It was recently named one of the top 10 public universities in the country, and one of the top three up-and-coming public universities. The several-million-volume library is the largest in the region by far, and the university is a leader in adapting the newest advances in high technology towards teaching and research. The university has recently made a major commitment to the humanities, including the establishment of the new Center for Humanities and the Arts and the construction of a new high-tech humanities office and classroom building, which the department now occupies.

The Program of Study

For the MA, students do two years of coursework prior to taking a comprehensive series of written and oral exams. The exams are based on a reading list given to all students upon entry. For application information –

For PhD students, an additional year of coursework is followed by a year of reading and study in preparation for the PhD oral and written exams. These exams are based on a personally designed set of questions and interests unique to each student. Students then proceed to the writing of the dissertation, completing the entire program in six years.

Teaching and Financial Support

Students are typically offered a teaching appointment to provide financial support during their studies, with salaries at approximately $16,000. Summer teaching is also available, and subsidized health care is provided.

The department provides mandatory seminars on teacher training, and CU’s innovative Graduate Teacher Program has been cited as a national model. In addition to teaching workshops, the program offers the chance to be a lead teacher in the department, and for advanced students, provides the opportunity to visit many other campuses in the state to get a better sense of the academic world and job market.

Employment and Placement

Each year, the department offers a series of employment workshops for advanced students. Since 1993, among the candidates who did national job searches, all were able to find employment at the university level. Job offers were received from institutions such as University of Nevada, Temple University, University of Wyoming, Yale University, Kansas State University, Case Western Reserve University, St. Mary’s College, Lafayette College, Lewis and Clark College,  College of Charleston and University of North Carolina.

Student with MAs from the department who have elected to apply elsewhere have gone on to institutions such as University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, Yale, UC-Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and Princeton.

Additional Educational Opportunities On Campus and Abroad

Graduate students are required to take a number of courses outside the department for their degrees, and have wide freedom in choosing these courses. The department also has a year-long exchange programs in conjunction with French universities. The department, the Center for Humanities and the Arts, the Graduate School, and the College of Arts & Sciences all offer many grants and fellowships of various amounts to help fund graduate student travel, conference attendance, and research. Entering students are also eligible for a series of fellowships: Nominations are made automatically by the department, with no application required by the student