French Graduate Programs

Our Department of Romance Languages and Literatures is one of the most active in the country. In the French section at Washington University, we are deeply committed to a dynamic program of excellent quality. In and out of classes, professors try to create an open and supportive environment for the development of graduate students in diverse fields. The program studies literature in an interdisciplinary and multicultural context, with attention given to all periods and genres. The program gives you and your advisor considerable freedom to plan a course of study that responds to your needs and interests. Our faculty’s fields of expertise combine the study of French literature with the arts and sciences as well as with theory, politics, and film. We encourage students to take a certain number of courses outside the department that complement the French program. You also have the opportunity to work with members of other departments and programs by participating in our research and reading groups for faculty and graduate students and by attending the lectures of our many prestigious guest speakers.

With us, you have the possibility of pursuing a doctoral degree in French or jointly in French and Comparative Literature. You may, in addition, earn a graduate certificate in language instruction; translation studies; film studies; or women, gender and sexuality studies. Students who hold appointments as teaching assistants receive exceptional pedagogical training in the methods of communicative language teaching, with an emphasis on writing, and teach at all levels in an undergraduate language program recognized widely as one of the most successful in the United States. We also offer an outstanding exchange program that allows interested students to spend one year at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure in Lyon. There they improve their language and teaching skills while taking classes, conducting research, and acquiring invaluable cultural experience

Our Degree Programs

PhD in French Language & Literature

Obtaining a PhD will always be a rigorous and involved process, but it need not feel daunting. At Washington University, you can receive your PhD in six years, all fully funded. If you chose to earn one of our graduate certificates (see below), you will receive funding in order take an additional semester to complete the coursework required.

Learn more about the PhD in French Language & Literature

Joint PhD in French & Comparative Literature

Completing a doctorate in a joint program with Comparative Literature means gaining the expertise to think about literature across languages and cultures, geography, historical periods, and means of production and transmission. The joint programs require a focus on a "home" literature, in which the student normally duplicates the courses and other preparations expected of a doctoral candidate in that literature or program.

Learn more about our Joint PhD program

Graduate Certificates

Students in our doctoral program may earn graduate certificates, in addition to their Ph.D. in French. A significant number of our students take one of these unique opportunities. Since each of these programs requires coursework in addition to that ordinarily required for the Ph.D., students accepted into them receive an additional semester in their total funding package

Learn more about our Graduate Certificates

Supporting our Students

Financial Support

Financial support includes six years of funding. In the first year, all new students receive fellowships exempting them from teaching duties. Students also receive fellowships (no teaching duties) for two semesters in their fifth and sixth (final) years in the program. Currently, all graduate students in the department receive a living stipend ($34,000 most recently) and a full tuition scholarship. Qualified candidates can also compete for graduate fellowships awarded by the Office of Graduate Studies in Arts & Sciences.

more financial support information

Teaching Development Program

Our Teaching Development Program includes teaching orientation for students beginning the Mentored Teaching Experience, a one-semester course on contemporary language teaching, and six semesters of the Mentored Teaching Experience that allows students to work in both language teaching as well as focus on literary and culture studies.

learn about our teaching program

Job Market Preparation

On the Profession is an ongoing workshop series that addresses a variety of topics such as dissertation design, publishing, how to approach the job market (including guidance for preparing materials, mock interviews, and practice job talks), as well as broader conversations about trends and contemporary questions shaping the profession. Goals of the workshops include helping students navigate the transition from graduate school to professional life after the PhD and, among others, engaging more general issues humanities scholars face today.

workshop schedule

How to Apply

To be considered for admission to our doctoral program, you will need to submit your online application and all supporting materials by December 15, 2022 for Fall 2023 admission.

admissions Information and application

Your Path to the PhD in French Language & Literature

Obtaining a PhD will always be a rigorous and involved process, but it need not feel daunting. At Washington University, you can receive your Ph.D. in six years, all fully funded. If you choose to earn one of our graduate certificates,  you will receive funding in order take an additional semester to complete the coursework required. As progress toward the degree is an essential factor in our decisions to recommend students for Mentored Teaching Experience and fellowships, students should carefully review their progress with the DGS during the registration period each semester.


Find your path

"The French program at Washington University provided me with excellent preparation in teaching and research. My faculty mentors encouraged me to publish articles, to attend conferences, and offered valuable critical perspectives, allowing me to write a truly interdisciplinary dissertation. Further, the teacher training I received was elemental in my first year on the job. Washington University offers excellent library resources and avenues for intellectual exchange, while the city of St. Louis is a vibrant cultural center."

―Amanda Lee, PhDVisiting Assistant Professor of French, Colgate University