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.

Fall Deadline December 20
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Our graduate program offers training for teaching and research in all areas of French and Francophone literature and literary history, in critical theory, film, gender and queer studies, romance philology, and foreign language pedagogy. Our large and varied faculty teach graduate courses in all areas and at regular intervals.  Consequently, students for the M.A. degree can fulfill course requirements in any given two-year period, and candidates for the Ph.D. can complete course requirements Please check the program website for the Ph.D. details. within two years of obtaining their M.A. Our program is designed to allow well-qualified students to complete the M.A. in three semesters, and all other requirements for the Ph.D. except the dissertation in four more semesters.  Applicants for the M.A. or Ph.D. in French must submit all application materials by the application deadline of December 20.

The Graduate School sets  sets minimum requirements for admissions.

Graduate School Application
Please refer to the following links: 

  • Consult the Graduate School website for complete information about graduate education opportunities at UW–Madison. This site is especially helpful in understanding Admissions Requirements developing a Timeline for application.

Materials to Upload to the Online Application:

  • You will need to list three people who will write letters of recommendation for you. They should be in faculty or permanent academic staff positions. Since the Graduate School will contact your recommenders directly via email once you have completed your online application, you should be sure to contact each recommender at least a month prior to when the letter of recommendation is needed to let them know that they will be contacted directly by the Graduate School. If your referees are unable to upload your letter of recommendation to the online application, the letters should be sent to the Graduate Coordinator at
  • Statement of purpose, preferably written in English
  • CV
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Submit the on-line Graduate School Application for Admission and pay the application fee.
  • GRE (optional) institution code 1846 for UW–Madison
  • Non-native English speakers must also submit results for the TOEFL or IELTS exams. There are few exceptions. Please note that the Graduate School requires that these scores be no older than 2 years old. This is calculated from the start of the term for which you are applying, NOT the date on which we receive your application.

​Supplemental Materials:

  • TA/Fellowship Application: To be considered for teaching assistantship or fellowship support, you must submit to the department a document listing all relevant experience since you began studying French. There is no specific application form—it is a document, much like a CV, that you put together yourself. Include travel, study, or residence abroad. For teaching experience, be specific about subject, level, actual classroom hours/week, and age of students. Also indicate undergraduate and graduate honors, and how you would support yourself if UW was not able to offer support.
  • Writing Sample (essay or paper in French—usually between 7 and 12 pages in length)
  • List of French Literature and/or Civilization courses taken and Grades received

Questions? Please contact Graduate Coordinator Shawn Ramer,

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

The Department of French & Italian is committed to providing full funding to all graduate students. Students who accept our offer of admission therefore receive fellowships or assistantships that cover tuition and provide eligibility to enroll in excellent comprehensive health insurance and other benefits. Funding is guaranteed for a minimum of 5 years of study for students entering with a B.A., and a minimum of 4 years for those entering with an M.A. Moreover, it has been our departmental practice to continue to offer funding beyond guarantee as possible for students in good academic standing.

Teaching assistantships, the most common form of support in our department, offer the pedagogical experience and training necessary to be competitive on the academic job market. The teaching assignment is usually one course per semester, but double sections (two sections of the same course) can also be requested for an increased stipend, when available. While the guarantee of support means students in good standing will receive funding, the exact assignments are based on need, merit, and experience. Generally, a graduate student will, over the course of study, hold a variety of positions from French 101-204, which are available every semester.  Teaching assistantships to provide technology and assessment support to the French MA/Ph.D. program are also available every semester. Students may also have the opportunity to teach more advanced courses, such as FRENCH 228 and FRENCH 271, and LITTRANS 360 depending on departmental need. For more information about our teaching assistantships, please visit our website.

There are also fellowships available from several sources on campus each year, including the Chancellor’s fellowship, which starts at around $10,000 per semester. Advanced Opportunity Fellowships are also available to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the graduate student population, as well as support economically disadvantaged and first generation college students. The department also offers a number of monetary awards every year, for academic performance and for teaching. Graduate students can also take advantage of our excellent exchange programs during the course of their study.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements No other grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations Qualifying exam (if M.A. is from another institution); field exams; dissertation proposal; oral examination; dissertation; dissertation defense.
Language Requirements Ph.D. language requirements vary according to field chosen.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Required COURSES

  • All dissertators must register for FRENCH 901 Seminar-Materials and Methods of Research for three credits in place of FRENCH 990 Individual Research during the Spring semester of the academic year following the academic year in which the Dissertation Proposal Oral Examination is completed successfully.  If it is not offered, the requirement can be completed the following year.
  • Distribution Requirement: Students must complete the seven-area (Medieval, five-century, and Francophonie) distribution requirement started in the M.A.,  that is, they must complete a course or seminar in each of the remaining areas.
  • Breadth Requirement: Students must take a second course or seminar in two of the five areas outside those of their preliminary examinations.
  • Seminar Requirement: Students must take at least three seminars in the French program (see list below)
  • Medieval Specialists: Students intending to write a dissertation on the medieval period must take additional courses in philology and paleography, as indicated by their advisor.


FRENCH 901 Seminar-Materials and Methods of Research1-3
FRENCH 931 Seminar-18th Century3
FRENCH 932 Seminar-18th Century3
FRENCH/​MEDIEVAL  939 La Litterature Medievale3
FRENCH 947 Seminar: Questions de Litterature3
FRENCH 948 Seminar: Questions de Litterature3
FRENCH 949 Seminar-Ecrivains Francais du XVIe Siecle3
FRENCH 951 Seminar on 19th Century French Poetry3
FRENCH 955 Seminar-Le Theatre Du XX Siecle3
FRENCH 963 Seminar-Studies in the Romantic Period3

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

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.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

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

UW–Madison University Special

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.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.


Upon entering the department, students are alphabetically assigned to one of two graduate advisors. Students consult their advisor each semester about which courses to take.

Upon completing the qualifying exams, students must choose a faculty member as a mentor and inform the Graduate Studies Committee of their choice. Mentors help students explore areas of interest and give advice about professional development. Although students may change mentors until they begin preparing the Special Topic preliminary exam, they should inform a faculty member if they have chosen another mentor. Students should plan to remain with the mentors they have chosen by the time they write the Special Topic proposal, since the mentor will usually be a member of the Special Topic Committee and the Dissertation Committee.

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


15 credits

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.

Grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances.


Fellowships are available for high-ranking incoming students and dissertators. The department has a number of teaching assistantships which are granted on the basis of a candidate's previous academic record, knowledge of French, and seriousness of purpose in pursuing the Ph.D.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

The Department of French and Italian hosts several professional development workshops for our students each semester. Workshops focus on academic and non-academic professional development. Previous workshop materials are available to all students in the department.

  1. 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.
  2. Show the ability to synthesize and define a field of inquiry in a persuasive, coherent, and original way.
  3. Make effective use of research sources, tools, and strategies in the field of French and Francophone literature.
  4. 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.
  5. Articulate awareness of various questions, problems, and limitations implied by their framing of their topic.
  6. Contribute substantially to their area of specialization, and be able to engage in a dialogue with other experts in that area.
  7. Communicate and defend complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner, in both French and English.
  8. Be capable of applying their investigative skills to a variety of fields within French-speaking literature and cultures.
  9. 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).
  10. Be prepared to be effective teachers of French/Francophone literature, culture, and language at the college and university levels.
  11. Foster ethical and professional conduct.

French Faculty and Academic Staff

Professors Bousquet, Debaisieux, Goodkin, Langer Miernowski, Tochon, Vatan and Vila

Associate Professors Armstrong, Dima, El Nossery and Willis Allen

Assistant Professor Gipson

Faculty Associate Deitz

Senior Lecturer Miernowska