Before the Dissertation
1. Course credits
Ph.D. students entering without an M.A. generally are eligible for 6 years of financial support, whereas students entering with an M.A. from another university are generally eligible for 5 years of financial support.
During the first year of their program, students normally take four courses each semester. Thereafter, students generally take three courses each semester and also teach (TA) one additional class each term prior to their Ph.D. exams.
For students entering program without an M.A., sixty-three (63) credit-hours of graduate work. Coursework in the form of graduate seminars comprises 51 of these (17 courses), generally taken over five semesters. Dissertation research and writing accounts for the remaining 12 credits required.
For students entering with an M.A., seventy-two (72) credit-hours of graduate work. Coursework in the form of graduate seminars comprises 60 of these (20 courses), including 21 credits transferred, generally taken over four semesters in the program. Dissertation work accounts for the remaining 12 credits required.
3. M.A. Exam
Students who do not already hold a Master’s degree in French literature will receive one from Washington University in the course of their study for the Ph.D., upon successful completion of the M.A. exam.
4. Ph.D. Qualifying Exam (Written)
In preparation for the exam, students should cover both the Literary History List and the Ph.D. Reading List. Students should also become conversant with the criticism on the secondary literature list, as well as with the department's exam procedures.
The semester preceding the exam, the student must construct his or her Individual Examination List), approved and signed by the three faculty members expected to serve on the dissertation committee, and submitted to the DGS along with a paragraph statement of the principle guiding the selection of the list. The student, via consultation in person with his or her proposed committee and the specialists in the relevant areas, creates this list of 12 works NOT included in the Ph.D. Reading List from two or three different periods, not necessarily contiguous, including the period of the student’s specialization. The 12 works should reflect issues related to the student’s dissertation topic. In addition to the 12 primary works, the Individual Examination List should include secondary works connected to the critical approach the student will use in the dissertation. The student will circulate the final list to all faculty the first week after spring break or in the middle of the semester preceding the exam.
The written exam covers all periods of French literary and cultural history, from the Middle Ages through the contemporary period. The exam consists of two parts; the first one is written in French, and the second one, in the language of the dissertation. A student must successfully pass both parts of the exam in order to be eligible to take the next one.
Part 1 : Analytical Essays
Taken no later than the third week of the semester, this ten-hour long exam is divided into two five-hour sections, taken over two days. The first section covers the medieval and renaissance periods, and the seventeenth century; the second one, the eighteenth century, the nineteenth century, and the twentieth/twenty-first centuries and francophone literature. For each of the six sections of the exam, the student will choose one of two questions. Those questions may include identifications in which students will have to briefly but precisely identify and illustrate a movement, a group, an issue, a figure of style, an event, a genre, a quarrel, etc. A student failing one or two periods will have to redo those periods at home within two weeks. A students failing more than two periods will have to retake the exam within a month.
Part 2: Critical Essay
The second part is a 10- to 15-page “take home” essay (double spaced and in the language of the proposed dissertation) that the student completes on the honor system no later than three weeks after passing Part 1. The student will receive the topic by email on the date established with the DGS, and will have exactly seven days, to the hour, to submit the essay via email attachment to the DGS. The essay topic is based on the student’s Individual Examination List and will reflect the critical approach that the student will pursue in the dissertation. Faculty expect that students will maintain all high standards for written work, including appropriate argumentative structure, substantial citation and integration of critical sources, proper footnotes, works cited, etc. The timeframe allowed for this essay is critical, and may not be exceeded. Primary responsibility for grading this essay rests with the three members of the student’s proposed dissertation committee, who will give written comments on it; other faculty will read it and may comment as well.
Faculty strongly encourage students to speak with them in person about the results of the written exam before going on to the oral.
5. Ph.D. Qualifying Exam (Oral)
6. Secondary Language Requirements
- take the EST examination administered through the Graduate School office, obtaining a score of 650 or better;
- take an examination prepared by a Washington University language departments with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies in French (customarily, the student selects a text relevant to his or her field and translates with a dictionary an 800-word passage from this text); or
- complete with grades of B+ or better the two-semester course sequence on reading/translation offered to graduate students by Washington University
8. A dissertation, described below.
During the semester prior to the semester in which students take the Ph.D. exam, the Director of Graduate Studies will ask students for their Individual Examination List which will consist of the following:
- selecting a Dissertation topic;
- forming a dissertation committee composed of a director and two readers, after consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, and by March 20, if taking the exam in the fall, or October 20, if taking the exam in the spring;
- working with the director and readers to construct a bibliography of 10-15 works, including both primary and secondary materials, that relate to the Dissertation proposal.
1. Selecting a topic
Translations and creative writing do not fall within the purview of the dissertation.
2. Selecting a committee
3. Prospectus Defense
Upon successful completion of their Ph.D. exams, students will write their dissertation prospectuses for oral examination no later than the beginning of the semester following the one in which they have passed the Ph.D. exams. For example, if they pass the Ph.D. exams in November, they would defend their dissertation prospectus no later than the following January. The candidate's thesis advisory committee will be the examiners; the candidate will submit the prospectus to them at least two weeks before the defense.
4. Writing the dissertation
- Language: Students should write in their native language when it is either English or French; students whose native language is other than English or French should select to write in whichever of the two languages she or he is more proficient.
- Style: Department recommends MLA Style for all theses written in English. Those written in French may use either this style or any accepted French style.
- Schedule of production: Students should work closely with their dissertation directors to establish not only an outline for dissertation but also a realistic calendar for completion.
- Procedure for revisions and approvals: Dissertation writers should submit their chapters one at a time to the dissertation director, or in some previously agreed-upon division into sections. The director will suggest revisions. When the director approves these revisions, the student should submit the text in question to the second reader. The second reader will evaluate it, making recommendations for revisions. When these revisions are complete, the second reader will review them. When the second reader gives provisional approval for the chapter,* the student will submit it to the third reader. The third reader will similarly read and make editorial revisions. When the chapter is approved by the third reader, the student should return it to the director for final comments.
Department Policies Related to Graduate Study