The M.A. and Ph.D. programs in French offer a first-rate faculty in all the areas of French and Francophone literature and culture. The program emphasizes broad coverage as well as specialization, and is organized so as to take advantage of the quality and range of the faculty. A Wisconsin Ph.D. has the ability to teach not only a very focused topic of research, but also much of the French literary tradition.

The French graduate program offers a wide array of courses and seminars each semester, providing a fairly even distribution across the various literary periods in most academic years. Courses typically meet two or three times a week and are quite broad in focus, generally exploring well-defined periods or genres, while seminars are held once a week for two hours and take up narrower topics in greater depth. Both the offerings and the requirements of the M.A. and Ph.D. programs are designed to give students not only the tools necessary for specialization, but also an excellent knowledge of these extremely rich literary traditions.

Strong emphasis is placed on the practice of the language. French is the usual language of instruction in graduate courses and seminars. The department offers possibilities for international stay through exchange programs and further promotes the use of French through lectures, films, theater, and events at the French House.

The French Ph.D. program has a fine job placement record. Its students' solid foundation in the French and Francophone literary tradition is increasingly rare among North American literature programs, as is the extensive training students receive in language pedagogy.

Prospective students should see the program website for funding information.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Doctoral Degrees


Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

51 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

32 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 total credits) must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the University's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

Example: With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

Contact program for list of specific courses.

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00 GPA required

Other Grade Requirements

No other grade requirements

Probation Policy

The status of a student can be one of three options:

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status.
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

Advisor / Committee

All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with their advisor.

Assessments and Examinations

Qualifying exam (if M.A. is from another institution); field exams; dissertation proposal; oral examination; dissertation; dissertation defense.

Time Constraints

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

Ph.D. language requirements vary according to field chosen.

The Graduate School sets minimum requirements for admissions. Academic program admission requirements are often more rigorous than those set by the Graduate School. Please check the program website for details.

Knowledge and Skills

  • The doctoral level learning goals are inclusive of the master's level learning goals for a master's degree in French and Francophone literature.
  • Demonstrate thorough knowledge and critical understanding of two areas of French and Francophone literature, and of the historical and social contexts that have influenced the works examined in their dissertation.
  • Show the ability to synthesize and define a field of inquiry in a persuasive, coherent, and original way.
  • Make effective use of research sources, tools, and strategies in the field of French and Francophone literature.
  • Demonstrate, in the writing of their Ph.D. dissertation, an originality of thinking and insight that reaches beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the field of study.
  • Articulate awareness of various questions, problems, and limitations implied by their framing of their topic.
  • Contribute substantially to their area of specialization, and be able to engage in a dialogue with other experts in that area.
  • Communicate and defend complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner, in both French and English.
  • Be capable of applying their investigative skills to a variety of fields within French-speaking literature and cultures.
  • Show reading knowledge of a second foreign language pertinent to their research specialty (and, for specialists of Medieval and 16th-century French literature, a third foreign language).
  • Be prepared to be effective teachers of French/Francophone literature, culture, and language at the college and university levels.

Professional Conduct

  • Students obtaining a doctoral degree in French and Francophone literature are expected to foster ethical and professional conduct.

French Faculty: Professors Bousquet (chair), Debaisieux, Goodkin, Langer, Miernowski, Songolo, Tochon and Vila; Associate Professors Armbrecht, El-Nossery, Willis Allen, and Vatan; Assistant Professors Armstrong, Dima, and Gipson

Italian Faculty: Professors Bousquet (chair), Buccini, Livorni, Rumble; Associate Professors Menechella, Phillips-Court; Assistant Professor Todorovic