Guide to Higher Studies in French

NB (Sept 24, 2023): The following document is a reformatted version of the Guide. To obtain a copy of the original Guide, please email We hope to have a revised Guide in place by December 1, 2023.

Admissions and General Information

Admission to the PhD program for the Louisiana State University (LSU) Department of French Studies (DFS) depends upon the joint approval of both the Graduate School and the department. The procedure has two steps. The first step is to apply to the LSU Graduate School.

To receive full consideration for financial aid for admission in the Fall semester, your application should be complete by February 15 of that calendar year. To complete the Graduate School application, you will need to upload to the Graduate School website (*not* the department):

  • a résumé
  • a statement of purpose
  • three letters of recommendations from current or previous university professors or employers who can speak to your French-teaching experience
  • a writing sample in French (maximum 20 pages)
  • official transcripts from each university you attended (to come directly from the university to the LSU Graduate School)
  • a copy of your diploma  
  • anything else the Graduate School might require.

Please note that the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is *not* required as part of the application, but you may report your scores should you wish.

If the Graduate School finds your application meets admission standards to the University, they refer your dossier to the Department of French Studies where a committee of professors examines your application and decides on your admission you to the program. Should your dossier pass the department’s preliminary examination, you may then be contacted for a brief Zoom interview to be conducted in both French and English.

For unconditional admission to graduate study, a student is expected to have the equivalent of an undergraduate major in French and a grade-point average (GPA) above 3.0. In special circumstances, students who do not meet these criteria may be admitted on probation, in which case they may not hold assistantships until the probation is lifted.\Students applying with graduate credits in French from another institution will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) who, in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC), will determine how many hours of further course work the student must take for the PhD. A maximum of twelve hours of credit can be accepted from another university.

The student’s “Program of Study” form detailing how many and which courses must be taken by the student at LSU, must be completed by the student and be approved by his or her Advisory Committee during the first semester following the student’s admission with an M.A. from another institution.

Student Responsibility

Once admitted, it is the student’s responsibility to file any paperwork before the announced deadlines. Chairs of examining committees are responsible for the administration of exams. Students are responsible for ensuring that all departmental course requirements and the Graduate School requirements, including those set forth in the student's Program of Study are met. 


The members of the GSC serve as advisors for all students during their first year. During their third semester of study, students will choose a faculty member as their Major Professor or advisor. All graduate students will meet with the members of the GSC once a semester to report on their progress.


Each semester, all teaching assistants will receive a report evaluating their performance from the language coordinator. The student countersigns to acknowledge receipt of report and can append a rejoinder if desired. Signed reports are to be submitted to the Director of the Language Program, with copies to the DGS and Chair, by the end of the first week of the following semester. Rejoinders are due one week after the receipt of the report.

MA in French Studies

The goal of the Master of Arts in French Studies is to ensure written and oral competence and breadth of coverage in French and Francophone culture and literature.

Distribution Requirements

Out of the 36 total credit hours requirement for the degree, M.A. candidates are required to fulfill 15 of those credit hours within the five core areas. For their 21 elective credit hours, students should follow a curriculum designed to meet their particular needs and to suit their special interests. Students will develop this curriculum in consultation with the GSC and/or Major Professor.

To fulfill the 15 credit hours of breadth requirement, students are required to take at least one course from each of the following five core areas listed below according to thematic and historical criteria. Though some courses may cover more than one area, there must be at least one course in each area.


  • Global Francophone Studies (including French European, North African, Sub-Saharan African, Caribbean, French Canadian, Louisianan, and Southeast Asian literatures and cultures)
  • Theoretical Studies (gender and sexuality studies, philosophy, environmental studies, psychoanalysis, critical race studies, literary theory, disability studies, and other subjects)


  • Medieval and Renaissance Literature
  • 17th and 18th Century Literature
  • 19th, 20th, and 21st Century Literature


An essential component of the M.A. examination is the reading list, which will be the basis of the written exam. The department will provide a general list as well as samples of past student lists. The student and major professor will work together to form a reading list of approximately 5 works per category that both satisfies the student’s needs and ensures a breadth and depth of knowledge of French and Francophone literatures and cultures.

There are two ways to fulfill the MA requirements: a non-thesis option and a thesis option.

The Non-thesis option consists of fulfilling three requirements: 

  1.  Course requirements: completion of 36 course credit hours (with no more than half at the 4000-level and meeting the distribution requirements established above).
  2. Written Exam: The student’s Major Professor, in consultation with the student’s M.A. Examining Committee, will formulate an exam question based on one of the items on the reading list (see above description). The student will have four (4) days to write a 2500-word, research essay which will be evaluated by all members of their M.A. Examining Committee.
  3. Oral Exam: one week after submitting their essay, the student will meet with the M.A. Examining Committee to discuss the written exam as well as answer questions about other items included on the student’s reading list.

The Thesis option consists of fulfilling four requirements:

  1. Course requirements: completion of 30 course credit hours (with no more than half at the 4000-level and meeting the distribution requirements established above).
  2. Master's Thesis:
    1. completion of 6 credit hours of FREN 8000: Thesis Research, an approximately 50-page Master's Thesis (including bibliography),
    2. and an oral defense of the Master's Thesis with the M.A. Examining Committee.
  3. Written Exam: The student’s Major Professor, in consultation with the student’s M.A. Examining Committee, will formulate an exam question based on one of the items on the reading list (see above description). The student will have four (4) days to write a 2500-word, research essay which will be evaluated by all members of their M.A. Examining Committee.
  4. Oral Exam: one week after submitting their essay, the student will meet with the M.A. Examining Committee to discuss the written exam as well as answer questions about other items included in the student’s reading list.

PhD in French Studies

Students will be required to complete 27 course credit hours (beyond the requirements of the M.A.) at the 7000-level. At the discretion of the GSC, students entering the Ph.D. program who hold an M.A. from another program may be required to take the M.A. exam. [BC1] [JP2] Courses taken at the 7000-level during a student’s M.A. program will count toward the fulfillment of Ph.D. distribution requirements but will not count toward fulfillment of the 27 hours of Ph.D. course work.

Distribution Requirements

The student's program of study must reflect a thematic and historical breadth of coverage in major fields of French Studies. In other words, students are not allowed to take seminars in only one area but must strive to take courses in all areas. Students must take one 7000-level course from each of the five core areas listed in the M.A. Distribution Requirements section. The PhD program of study, designed by the student in consultation with their Major Professor (or the GSC during the first year), must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) before being submitted to the Graduate School.  

General Examination 


The General Examination consists of three components: 1) a written examination based on a reading list; 2) a dissertation proposal; and 3) an oral examination of the dissertation proposal, the written exam, and their reading list. Note that the standard practice is for the dissertation proposal to form part of the General Examination, but the DGS and Chair may allow it to be separated from the written exam and its oral examination in special circumstances. In those cases, the dissertation proposal will be subject to both a written and an oral examination.

  1. Written Exam: At least a semester prior to examination, the student, Major Professor, and Examining Committee members start discussing the constitution of a reading list that will be the basis of their written exam. The department will provide a general list as well as sample lists from previous students to aid in the composition of the reading list. Once all members of the Examining Committee have approved the reading list, the written examination can proceed as follows:
    1. the Major Professor, in consultation with the student’s Examining Committee, formulates a general essay question or prompt in relation with the specific problem addressed by the dissertation proposal (if applicable);
    2. the Major Professor submits the question to the examining committee (including the Dean’s Representative) who have one week to provide suggestions and/or grand their approval;
    3. the Major Professor submits the final version to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will administer the exam;
    4. the DGS provides the student and all members of the Examining Committee with the exam question via email;
    5. upon receipt of the exam question, the student has one week to submit their 3500-word answer in French, along with copies of their reading list and dissertation proposal (if applicable), to all members of the Examining Committee.
  2. Dissertation Proposal: At least a semester prior to examination, the student should seek guidance from all members of their Examining Committee to develop a 7500-word document (references and appendices not included) in which they present the research problem, primary corpus, existing scholarship, chapter outline, and tentative bibliography of their dissertation. A projected schedule for completion of the dissertation should also be provided by the student at the time of final submission of their proposal. 
  3. Oral Exam: On the day of the oral examination, the student will meet for approximately two hours with all members of the Examining Committee (including the Dean’s Representative) to discuss their written essay, answer further questions based on their reading list, give a brief presentation of their dissertation project, and address the Examining Committee members’ questions and suggestions on the dissertation proposal.


The typical timeline for a Ph.D. General Examination is as follows: The student receives the essay question or prompt formulated by the Major Professor and approved by all members of the Examining Committee. A week later, the student submits their 3500-word essay in French, along with their reading list and dissertation proposal (if applicable), to all members of the Examination Committee. Two weeks after submitting their written materials, the student meets with all members of the Examining Committee to discuss their essay, reading list, and dissertation proposal (if applicable).

Should the examination be successful the student is qualified to begin work on their dissertation and is considered a degree candidate.

The examining committee may recommend the student revise part of the exam; that they retake all or part of the exam; or they may recommend the student be dropped from the program.

Dissertation Candidate Status Requirements

After reaching candidacy, students must enroll in FREN 9000 (Dissertation Research) during each semester until the time of their Final Examination/Dissertation Defense. The Graduate School limits the period for completion of the Ph.D. to seven years after classification as a doctoral student. Revalidation of a student for the Ph.D. program after this period has passed will be considered only in exceptional circumstances and must be initiated by written petition to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of French Studies who will evaluate the petitioner's record and make a decision regarding credit for courses previously taken and possible further course work.


The culminating exercise of the PhD program in French Studies is to write an original contribution to existing scholarship in French Studies. At this stage, the student should be oriented towards both breadth and specialization.

Final Examination/Dissertation Defense

The Final Examination is an oral defense of the completed dissertation. The defense should open with a brief presentation of the origins, contributions, shortcomings, and projected afterlives of their dissertation. The committee should be in possession of a finished copy of the dissertation at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense date. After the defense, the Final Examination committee may require further revisions to the dissertation.

Examining Committee Composition

Final Examination committees require at least three professors, two of whom must be members of the Graduate Faculty, as determined by the Graduate School. The Dean of the Graduate School will appoint an outside member to serve as the Dean’s Representative on all Ph.D. General and Final Examination committees; they represent the Dean and The Graduate Faculty and are full voting members of the committee, with all rights and responsibilities of other committee members.

Other General Requirements


The Graduate School requires that Ph.D. students fulfill two continuous semesters of full-time enrollment. This requirement can only be fulfilled starting in the semester in which the Program of Study is filed. This can be met with a fall and spring succession or a spring and fall succession. Summer terms do not count.

Doctor of Philosophy Minor

Students may choose a minor field, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. The minor may be defined within a specific department or discipline other than French, such as Spanish, History, Art, English, or Drama, or it may be an interdepartmental, interdisciplinary field such as women's studies or Comparative Literature and literary theory. The department(s) or interdisciplinary program will define the requirements of the minor field. If there is a minor, the student's Examining Committee for the Ph.D. must include a faculty member from the minor field, and the Advisory Committee should include a member from the minor field as well. The student must take at least one 7000-level course in the minor.

Language Requirement

At the discretion of the Major Professor, students working toward the PhD may be required to demonstrate reading proficiency in one foreign language other than their native language and French. Students must demonstrate language proficiency in the following manner: 1)by satisfactory performance on the ETS (Princeton) reading exam; 2), by completion of appropriate course work in the language(s) at an advanced level (7000, although this may differ according to the language studied); 3) by satisfactory performance on a departmental reading exam administered by a professor in the specific foreign language department in which they are trying to demonstrate their language competency; or 4) by completing a language course designed to teach Reading Competency (for example: German 4005: German for Reading Knowledge). The knowledge of multiple languages is beneficial to scholars of French literature and culture and allows them to address areas where multiple languages coincide such as the Caribbean.

Graduate Minor in French Studies

Doctoral students in other departments wishing to obtain a graduate minor in French Studies are required to take 9 hours of graduate coursework in the Department of French Studies at the 4000- and 7000-levels. At least 6 of those 9 hours must be at the 7000-level. They must demonstrate proficiency in French.

Attribution of Sources

Students are reminded that the most scrupulous attention to accepted forms of bibliographical documentation is required for all written work. Published material must never be directly quoted without precise signaling (quotation marks, indications of insertions/emendations for the purpose of syntax, etc.), nor repeated in another form without exact referencing (page numbers, etc.). Any failure to adhere to these practices constitutes plagiarism, which will be sanctioned by the University and by Federal law.

Graduate students should be familiar with the forms of referencing standardized by the MLA Handbook and the Chicago Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. If a student has any doubts about how to follow correct referencing procedure, it is his/her responsibility to seek advice from the course Professor, members of the Advisory Committee, or the Chair of the Committee for Graduate Studies.

A GPA of 3.0 or better is required for the student to maintain good academic standing. Details are available in the Graduate Bulletin.


These requirements can be modified at any time by the Department of French Studies. Students entering under a previous set of requirements may opt to be “grandfathered” or to work and study under the new guidelines.