Romance Languages: French and Francophone Studies, PhD

The University of Pennsylvania's Graduate Program in French Studies offers a five-year Ph.D. program.  All students admitted to the program are awarded full financial support through the University's Benjamin Franklin Fellowships, including summer funding for the first three years.  The overarching goal of the program is to train students for productive scholarship and for effective college or university teaching. We have an outstanding faculty committed to scholarly excellence and we have an impressive record in placing candidates on the job market.

In addition to our faculty having interest in a broad range of centuries, individual expertise include science studies, popular culture, film noir, fashion, travel writing, poetry, anthropology, gender, postcolonial studies, cultural history, narratology, and history of the book. Students are encouraged to incorporate new critical approaches into their dissertation topics.

Interdisciplinary study is encouraged through participation in the wide range of seminars, lectures, and colloquia sponsored by the various Graduate Groups and affiliated research institutes and centers at Penn. Students may complement their studies by taking up to four courses outside the French section. Graduate students in French and Francophone Studies may also participate in The Penn Humanities Forum which also provides a venue for doctoral students to interact with colleagues from across the disciplines.

View the University’s Academic Rules for PhD Programs.


The Ph.D. program in French and Francophone Studies is planned as a five-year sequence. Requirements for the Ph.D. include:

  • A total of twenty (20) graduate courses including:

    • FREN 5000 Proseminar: Reading for the M.A. Exam will be taken for credit during the spring semester of the student's first year.

    • ROML 6010 Language Teaching and Learning: This course in Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching will be audited in the fall semester of the second year and will be taken for credit during the spring semester of that year after the student has completed one semester of teaching.

    • FREN 8500 Field Statement: Followed by preparation of Field Statement in the summer of the 2nd year, students present and discuss their Field Statement in fall of the third year.

    • FREN 8510 Dissertation Proposal: The student will register for this course during the spring of the third year, and will complete the Dissertation Proposal/Prospectus during the following fall (7th semester).

  • M.A. Examination— an oral and written examination based on the Master's Reading List will be given at the conclusion of the spring semester of the student’s first year.

  • Qualifying Evaluation—In order to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, students must successfully pass a qualifying evaluation. At the beginning of the second year, the faculty will evaluate all aspects of the student's performance during his or her first year in the program.

  • Foreign Language Requirement—a translation exam in one foreign language appropriate to the student's prospective field of specialization.

  • Ph.D. Examination—the Ph.D. exam consists of an oral and written part and will be taken in May of the third year (or the 6th semester), upon the completion of course work.

  • Field Statement—during summer after second year, student will work with their advisor to prepare a Field Statement on their prospective areas of specialization to be presented in the fall semester of the third year.

  • Dissertation Proposal—Students will begin work for an eventual dissertation topic to be completed during the summer after the student's third year.

  • Dissertation Defense—a public, oral presentation of the dissertation will take place during the semester in which the student will graduate.

Students who enter the program with previous graduate work may be eligible to transfer some credits toward the Ph.D.

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2022 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.

Sample Plan of Study

Year 1 - Educational Fellow (No teaching assignments)
4 Courses
4 courses (including FREN 5000)
M.A. Exam in May
Year 2 - Teaching/Research Fellow (Two teaching assignments)
3 courses and ROML 6010 (Audit)
3 courses (including ROML 6010 for credit)
Begin preparation for field statement during summer
Year 3 - Teaching/ Research Fellow (Two teaching assignments)
3 courses (including FREN 8500)
Field Statement Discussion in October
3 courses (including FREN 8510)
Ph.D. Exam in May
Preparation for dissertation proposal review in October of the fourth year
YEARS 4 & 5 - Educational Fellow (No teaching assignments)
During these two years, which should be devoted to dissertation research and writing, the student will be registered as "ABD" under course number 9950. A written calendar for completion of the thesis work over this two-year period is to be sketched out by the student under the direction of advisor/committee, updated periodically, and kept on file for progress reviews.
Dissertation Completion and Defense by spring of Year 5.