Studying French at CU Boulder


The MA program in French literature at the University of Colorado consists of both course work and a comprehensive examination.  All French Graduate Students should become thoroughly familiar with the Graduate School Rules and Policies/Procedures

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Requirements for Admission

  1. An undergraduate major in French or its equivalent with a grade average of at least B in all French courses.
  2. Submit official GRE score if you would like to be considered for a fellowship nomination.  The GRE scores are not mandatory for admission.
  3. Good pronunciation in French as evidenced by recordings submitted by the applicant. The applicant should read one or two very short selections of prose or poetry and a short autobiographical passage composed in French by the applicant her/himself.
  4. Students are required to submit a statement of purpose and one paper of their choice done for an undergraduate French course.
  5. Submit a diversity statement - optional.
  6. Recommendations from three professors with whom the student has worked.

NB: Students interested in going on to doctoral work should note that it will be necessary to reapply as Ph.D. candidates at the appropriate time in their second year in the MA program.

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Financial Aid

Financial aid for qualified MA students is available in the form of Teaching Assistantships which normally include responsibility for lower-level language classes. The average stipend is approximately $16,000 per academic year and carries with it a waiver of tuition costs. The exact stipend is based on the number of hours the student is teaching. To be considered for financial aid, the student must see to it that all credentials are received in the department by January 15. Credentials are considered complete when the student has submitted: the Graduate School application, two unofficial copies of transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended, three recommendations, a copy of the student’s critical work, the voice recordings, and the application fee.

All students receiving financial aid must register for a minimum of three graduate courses per semester in the program or their equivalent during the duration of their appointment. To qualify for continued aid, students must maintain their full-time status. This means that they must have completed at least 5 credit hours of graduate-level course work or 8 credit hours of combined graduate- and undergraduate-level course work at the end of each semester. MA students may receive a maximum of two years of financial support and are expected to complete the requirements for the degree during that time.

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Plan of Study

Early in their first semester in the MA program, each student should meet individually with the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss their overall plan of study, including the ways in which they will satisfy the language requirement.

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Course Requirements for the MA in French Literature

The following summary of minimum requirements is expressed in terms of courses. Each course represents a graduate seminar carrying two or three credit hours. Additional course work may be required by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Note: Students and their administrators are equally responsible for making certain that their graduate curriculum satisfies all graduation requirements, both those of the department and those of the Graduate School. Every student should accordingly become THOROUGHLY FAMILIAR with the section in the University of Colorado catalog entitled Requirements for Advanced Degrees and with the information on this site.

  1. A total of 10 courses (not including that in sections 4 and 5).
  2. At least 8 courses (5000 level or above) in French literature and culture. Insofar as possible, students should take at least one such course in 7 of the 8 major historical periods of French literature (Middle Ages, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th centuries, Francophone literature, and film).

  3. Up to 2 courses (4000 level or above) in a related field (e.g., Comparative Literature, English, Spanish, Classics, Linguistics, Film Studies, History, Fine Arts, Education) to be determined in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.
  4. 1 semester of Supervised Teaching (French 5770).
  5. Knowledge of a language other than French and English (see Language Requirement below). NB: Master’s students are normally not allowed to take Independent Studies courses. However, in exceptional circumstances, and with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, they may register for one and at the very most two such courses.

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Language Requirement

All MA candidates must acquire a reading knowledge of a language other than French and English. The language should be related to the student’s academic program. The requirement may be fulfilled by taking a translation exam offered by the department in the language in question or by passing coursework either at CU or prior to arrival on campus equivalent to a fourth semester (2120 at CU) college course.

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The MA Comprehensive Examination

This examination will be based on a reading list in literature, culture, and theory prepared by the Graduate Faculty. It will be administered by an Examination Committee composed of the Director of Graduate Studies and two other members of the Graduate Faculty, appointed by the Chair. The examination will consist of three essays of three hours each, based on questions formulated by the Examination Committee, and a one-hour oral examination designed to test the student’s knowledge of the reading list. Normally the three essays will be written within a six-day period, and the one-hour oral exam will normally follow within two weeks. Two of the three essays must be written in French, but should students decide to exercise the option of writing one in English, they are entirely free to choose which one it shall be. The Comprehensive Examination must be taken during the fourth semester of the MA program.

NB: Since, for administrative reasons, the Comprehensive Examination takes place early in the spring semester, students are well advised to begin reading from the MA list during the summer before their arrival in Boulder.

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Typical Two-Year MA Program Structure

The MA degree is intended to be completed in two years. The normal pattern of courses would be as follows:

  • First Year:
    • Semester 1: 2 seminars + Supervised Teaching (French 5770)
    • Semester 2: 3 seminars
  • Second Year:
    • Semester 3: 3 seminars
    • Semester 4: 2 seminars

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Criteria for Satisfactory Progress

All renewals of Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Part-Time Instructorships depend upon the student’s making satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree and upon satisfactory teaching. The following summarizes the criteria for satisfactory progress in terms of which requests for continued financial aid will be evaluated:

  • First Year:
    • Semester 1: Satisfactory grades (B- or above) and faculty seminar reports
    • ​Semester 2: Continuing satisfactory grades as above
  • Second Year:
    • Semester 3: Continuing satisfactory grades as above
    • Semester 4: Passing of the MA Comprehensive Exam
  • Satisfactory teaching as above.

Students should note that Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Part-Time Instructorships also depend in part on enrollments and may be affected in the unlikely event that expected enrollments fail to materialize.

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Graduate School Requirements

  1. Transfer of Credit: An MA candidate who has done graduate work in French at another institution may, after one semester’s residence, apply for a transfer of graduate credit up to a maximum of 9 hours.
  2. Residence Requirement: All candidates for the MA degree must spend a minimum of two full semesters in residence at the University of Colorado, Boulder, as full-time students.
  3. Application for Candidacy for an Advanced Degree: This form, obtained from the Departmental office, must be completed and submitted to the Graduate School at least ten weeks prior to taking Comprehensive Exams.

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Grievance Procedures

The department naturally hopes that students will proceed through the program without undue difficulty, but problems may arise and procedures exist for resolving them. Questions or grievances should of course always be directed in the first instance to the faculty member or (in the case of teaching assignments) to the language coordinator involved. However, if this yields no solution, the student should refer problems to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will mediate between the parties and, where necessary, will help the student prepare a written record explaining her/his grievance, to be filed with the department. Should the student be unable to obtain satisfaction with the help of the Director of Graduate Studies, the grievance will be put in writing and the matter will be referred to the department Chair. Should even this yield no solution, the student may appeal either to the Ombuds Office or to the Associate Dean in the Graduate School.

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