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Graduate Requirements

Students admitted in full standing are required to take seventeen courses, as follows: eight the first year (four per semester); six the second year (three per semester); three the first semester of the third year. Of these seventeen courses, twelve must be taken within the department; furthermore, students must take at least one course in each field covered by the Doctoral Qualifying exam reading list. They may be allowed to audit one course per semester, in addition to courses taken for credit.

Students admitted in advanced standing must take only fourteen courses: eight the first year, and six the second. The number of courses they may take outside the department is ordinarily one per semester, though the Director of Graduate Studies may make exceptions, depending upon the students' background and proposed area of specialization.

Program in Scholarly Integrity (PSI)

The Program in Scholarly Integrity provides students with a foundational, cross-disciplinary introduction to the question of ethics for their research, training and careers. Additionally, program specific PSI training introduces PhD students to the professional habitus of French—customary behaviors, unwritten rules, and professional courtesies.  Requirements to complete PSI include the following:

  1. PSI 600:  A six-hour core course in scholarly integrity, supported by the Laney Graduate School in collaboration with the Center for Ethics. Participation in this course will be recorded on the student’s transcript. All first-year PhD students in the LGS take this course.  
  2. PSI 610: Minimum of four Educational Sessions (workshops, training sessions, or lectures). These lectures and workshops will be sponsored by the LGS, the Center for Ethics, and will include any other relevant occasional lectures or workshops. Students will register for these sessions individually, and participation will be recorded on the student’s transcript. Students can participate in these sessions at any point during the PhD training, and they do not need to be taken in any particular order.
  3. Six additional hours of program based training/preparation in scholarly integrity.  Most of these will be included in special shared French and Comparative Literature sessions of CPLT 753 a pedagogy course in the teaching of Literature. The rest will be organized as specialized brownbag workshop/events. These six hours must be completed before the student enters candidacy.

The Graduate School webpage includes more information about PSI and a list of upcoming workshops and events that fulfill PSI 610:

In order to assure its graduate students a good preparation for teaching, Emory University requires that students attend the TATTO (Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity) seminar (four days in early August) at the beginning of the second year (and before doing any teaching) and Professor Mendes' seminar on Pedagogy during the fall semester of the second year.

Students must have a 3.25 grade point average (B+ = 3.5) at the end of each year in order to continue in the program. Students may have no more than one incomplete at the end of the year. Deadline for the completion of the incomplete: Fall.

Graduate students must write at least one paper per semester in French , if their native language is English, and at least one paper per semester in English, if their native language is French. Those whose native language is other than English or French may decide which of those two languages to consider as "other," but all papers must be in English or French, in the proportions specified above.

Students entering in full standing must take the Doctoral Qualifying exam just prior to the beginning of their fifth semester. The Ph.D. orals are to be taken in the semester following the completion of course work.

Students entering in advanced standing must take the Doctoral Qualifying exam at the beginning of their third semester, and Ph.D. orals during the semester following completion of their course work.

In addition, all students must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language in addition to English and French before taking the Ph.D. orals. This is usually done by taking a course in that language at the 200-level or above, though in some cases it is satisfied via translation exam administered by the department of the language in question. Medievalists must satisfy the requirement in either Latin or Old French.

A written take-home exam, in English or in French. Students will have the equivalent of a long weekend to write the exam. If questions were given out on a Friday at 9:00 a.m., for example, students would have until Monday at 4:00 p.m. to return the completed exam. The objective of the exam is to check general knowledge of French literature. The DGS will choose the questions to be included on the exam from among those submitted by the faculty in their respective specialisms. The candidate will select five topics out of eight (based on the reading list) and will write a 3-5 page essay per question, typed and double-spaced. Each consulting professor responsible for the preparation of the topics will grade the exam. (Note: No student having more than one Incomplete for a course will be permitted to take this exam; any student having two or more incompletes at the time he or she should normally take the exam will be expected to petition for a postponement.)

Candidates must be passed on all five questions in order to pass the exam. If the candidate fails one question (s)he may retake that question (i.e., a different question covering the same section) at a date to be agreed upon with the responsible faculty member. If the candidate fails two or more questions, (s)he must retake the whole exam at the end of the current semester. 


The exam will consist of four parts lasting 20 minutes each and will be conducted in French or in English. Once a thesis director is chosen, students must consult with the director to form an examination committee of three additional faculty members one of whom may be chosen from outside the program faculty. The members of this committee should reflect four well-defined areas of research relevant to the proposed study. The committee will be chaired by a professor of the student’s choosing. Students will then compose a reading list of approximately 12-14 titles per topic, in consultation with the individual members of the committee. The professor responsible for each topic will question the student during the exam.

In order to insure both relevant coverage and in-depth preparation, areas of research should fall within the following categories:

  1. author/topic of proposed dissertation and coverage of the period relevant to author/topic,
  2. texts relevant to topic/author through the 18th century,
  3. texts relevant to topic/author in the 19th-21st centuries
  4. subfield, which may include theoretical approach or extra-disciplinary subject.

(Examples below.*) The DGS is responsible for the overall supervision of the exam. No postponement will be permitted except for family or medical reasons.

Three out of four members of the committee must agree that the candidate has passed all four portions of the exam in order to grant him or her a global pass.

If three out of four members of the committee agree that the candidate has not satisfactorily performed on one or two sections, (s)he must retake the failed section or sections within two months of the date of the original exam, before the same committee.

If the candidate fails three or more sections of the exam, (s)he must retake the entire exam within a period of two months and before the same committee. In the case that one member of the committee is out of the country at the time of the retake (s)he may designate another professor to replace him or her. In no case may more than one member of the original committee be replaced.

Neither the entire exam nor any portion of it may be retaken more than once. The chair of the committee shall report the results (i.e., a brief evaluation of the candidate’s performance on each section, and the consensus of the committee regarding pass/failure) in writing to the DGS within two days of the exam (initial exam and any retake). The DGS may provide the candidate with a copy of this report if the candidate so desires.

Only after having passed the Ph.D. oral exam will the candidate be allowed to present a Ph.D. dissertation proposal.

As soon as possible, and no more than six months after the Ph.D. oral exam, candidates will present a written dissertation proposal (of no more than 10-12 pages plus a bibliography), which will be discussed with a dissertation committee composed of three readers from the program faculty. Candidates have the option of including a fourth reader from the program faculty or from outside the program. In this written proposal, candidates should clarify the nature of their thesis, demonstrate its relevance, define its methodology, situate it in terms of existing scholarship and include a tentative break-down into chapters. Any proposal failing to meet these formal requirements will be returned for re-submission. The fourth reader may be from outside Emory, but in this case, the department will assume no financial obligation. The discussion of the proposal will last approximately an hour.

The dissertation will be read by three readers from the department. A fourth reader from outside the department is optional. The readers will be chosen by the candidate in consultation with the thesis director. A formal report will be submitted only if the readers find the dissertation unacceptable. If the dissertation is accepted, students should feel free to meet with the readers to discuss it.

A) Dissertation on one author or work
1) author/topic/period: Le Neveu de Rameau as an experimental novel / 18th century
2) experimental works: antiquity through 18th century
3) experimental works: 19th and 20th centuries
4) subfield: an area of theoretical concentration, such as Marxist, psychoanalytic etc., approaches to literature

B) Dissertation on a topic, e.g. Irony
1) author/topic/period: Irony in chosen primary texts (e.g. Flaubert, Proust, Gide...) / Period: period into which fall most of the student’s primary literary texts, or period in which (s)he expects to seek teaching positions.
2) works on irony: antiquity to the 18th century
3) works on irony: 19th and 20th centuries
4) subfield: area of theoretical concentration

Additional Important Departmental Policies concerning Graduate Students

1. Incompletes:

a. No student may take more than 2 incompletes at the end of a semester. He or she must commit to finishing the other papers by the assigned date, and obtain permission in advance from the professors of the courses in (s)he wishes an incomplete. (Please recall that in any case, incompletes are to be given only at the discretion of the professor, and that a professor MAY refuse to grant any incompletes.)

b. Any papers for which incompletes are taken must be turned in according to the following schedule: By January 15th of the following semester, for incompletes in fall semester courses, and by May 30th of the same year for incompletes taken in spring semester courses. That is, no student may begin a semester with outstanding incompletes from the previous semester.

c. It is to be understood that course papers are PAPERS, and not mini-theses; therefore we have agreed that they should be limited to approximately 10 pages. (Students are reminded that in 10 well-written pages, one can present and develop a cogent argument. Furthermore, conference papers are generally limited to a presentation of 20 to 25 minutes, which represents 8-10 double-spaced pages, so learning how to work within such a space/time constraint will constitute valuable experience for the future.)

2. Participation of graduate students in Conferences:

a. Students are discouraged from submitting papers to conferences before the completion of their course work. Any student wishing to present a paper at a conference before completing his or her course work must request permission to do so from the DGS and, when applicable, his/her faculty advisor.

b. Funding for conferences is available from the Graduate School for students whose applications is approved by the French DGS. Students may apply for up to $650 per conference, with a career cap of $2,500.

3. Funding for special training and major research projects is available from the Graduate School on a competitive basis. Interested students should consult the DGS about the application process.

4. Attendance at Department-sponsored lectures, symposia, and conferences is required of all graduate students.

5. Terminal M.A. Degree
Our graduate program in French, like most of the graduate programs at Emory, is a Ph.D. program only, and we do not admit students seeking the Master's degree. As it sometimes happens, however, that a student who is very advanced in the program decides not to continue through the dissertation stage, there are provisions for earning a terminal Master's degree. There are two means of obtaining a terminal M.A. in this Department:*

1) by attaining ABD status 

2) by completing all course work (i.e., seventeen 4-hour courses, for a student entering in full standing, and 14, for a student entering in advanced standing), passing the Ph.D. qualifying exam (written "reading list" exam), and, after successfully petitioning the Graduate Faculty for permission to write an M.A. thesis on a specified topic, satisfactorily completing such thesis and having it approved by the faculty.

*Note that the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has established minimum requirements without which no department may grant the M.A. degree, but explicitly recognizes the departments' rights to establish their own criteria beyond these minimal prerequisites. To quote p. 28 of the 2006-2007 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Handbook: "The Graduate School sets minimum requirements for the master's degree. Some departments, especially those offering terminal master's degrees, require considerably more course work than the minimum listed below, and many have substituted other requirements for the examination, foreign language and thesis."