French (MA)

As one of the major languages of world governance, diplomacy, commerce, and culture, French opens up a world of opportunities. In addition to gaining real-world proficiency and mastering communication skills across languages and cultures, students of French learn essential critical thinking skills, analytical reasoning, and adaptability. No matter the career and life path you choose, studying French will prepare you to face the challenges and opportunities both of the job market and of an increasingly globalized world.

The Department of Romance Languages offers an MA program in French. Our graduate students have the opportunity to study with leading scholars whose research interests range from modern and contemporary French studies in fields ranging from Francophone Africa and the French Enlightenment to terror studies and translation studies.

Admission Procedure

An applicant for admission to the master of arts (MA) program should have completed an undergraduate major in a Romance language and literature or its equivalent (e.g., licence, laurea, licenciatura). Students with a degree in another discipline may apply, provided they have a good knowledge of at least one Romance language and are familiar with one Romance literature.

To apply for graduate study in the Department of Romance Languages, you must first complete the University of Oregon online graduate application.

All required items must be uploaded in order for the application to be considered complete. The department’s application requires the following:

Graduate School/Department Application Questions: This serves as your application for both admission and application for Graduate Employee (GE) salary and benefits at .49 FTE. Please see our complete GE funding details.

Statement of Purpose: You must upload a 750-word statement of purpose describing: your academic experience, your reasons for wanting to do graduate work at the Department of Romance Languages, and your eventual career goals. Students applying to the PhD program must also specify their research interests. Please see our suggested Guidelines on Writing a Statement of Purpose.

Writing Sample: Only required if applying to the PhD program. The substantial writing sample may be a MA thesis, a graduate seminar paper, or an undergraduate research paper on a relevant topic.

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation: In the online application, you will provide contact information for three (3) professors who can make direct reference to your aptitude for graduate courses in literary and cultural studies, as well as your language competency. One referee may refer to your potential teaching ability. Please see our suggested Guidelines on Requesting Letters of Recommendation from Faculty

Your referees will be automatically emailed a request to provide their letter of recommendations at the email address you provide.  

Transcripts: Upload official or unofficial copies to the online application. Please see detailed instructions on Official Transcript Requirements.

English Language Proficiency:  Requirement now for all applicants whose native language is not English (not just international students). Please see detailed instructions here on acceptable tests and test scores.

GRE scores are not required for the Department of Romance Languages graduate programs.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate mastery of subject content knowledge.
  • Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills in discipline-specific genres.
  • Understand ethical issues and responsibilities especially in matters related to professionalism and in presenting original work and writing and publishing papers.
  • Conduct independent research and analysis in their discipline.

All courses must be taken on a graded basis. Coursework must be completed with grades of B– or better, and a grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or better must be maintained.

A student whose knowledge of the language or languages is found to be deficient must take remedial work—an advanced writing class, additional study abroad, or some form of language immersion.

Master of Arts: French

RL 636Teaching and Learning Romance Languages 14
RL 620Graduate Study in Romance Languages 24
RL 623Romance Languages Colloquium: [Topic]4
RL 601Research: [Topic] 34
One graduate-level course focused on pre-1800 literature and culture4
One graduate-level course focused on post-1800 literature and culture4
Graduate-level French courses28
Research project
Total Credits52

Typically taken fall term of first year.


Typically taken winter term of first year.


Taken in preparation for second-year fall forum presentation.

Master of Arts Research Project

The degree requires a research project (either a master's essay or a pedagogy portfolio) that allows a student to expand his or her expertise in literary and cultural studies or in teaching language, literature, and culture. A faculty member oversees the development of the final product and evaluates it. The student must identify a faculty member willing to serve as director and secure his or her signature of approval for the project by the ninth week of spring term of the first year.

The research project should be between 6,000 and 9,000 words. In consultation with the research project director, the student chooses whether to write the project in a Romance language or in English.

Research projects are approved by the director and are referred to the student’s MA examination committee (see below) for remediation if the work is found to be deficient or in need of revision. The director submits a final copy of the approved essay or portfolio to the department office by the last day of classes in spring term of the second year.

Essay in Literary and Cultural Studies

This essay allows students to widen their knowledge in one or more Romance languages, literatures, and cultures. In addition, the essay permits students to focus in greater depth on writing formal academic prose, presenting an interpretation, constructing an argument, documenting sources and references, and honing persuasive strategies. At the end of the first year of study, the student chooses one of the seminar papers that he or she submitted during the first three terms of course work. During the summer session immediately following, the student expands and polishes the paper.

Students who plan to apply for the PhD program in Romance languages at the University of Oregon must complete an essay in literary and cultural studies.

MA Pedagogy Portfolio in Teaching Language, Literature, and Culture

This project allows students to explore in depth specific issues of teaching a Romance language, its literature and cultures. The portfolio is designed in consultation with the director and serves to demonstrate the student’s professional expertise. The portfolio may include the following documents: a coherent collection of teaching materials supported by a theoretical rationale; a description, personal assessment, and third-party evaluation of an internship experience (e.g., a participatory learning experience at the UO); a formal "philosophy of teaching" statement; documentation of participation in a professional conference; and other components as recommended by the director.

Students who plan to apply for the doctoral program in Romance languages at the University of Oregon must complete a master of arts essay in literary and cultural studies.


The master of arts examination comprises two four-hour exams taken in the seventh week of spring term in the second year.

For students studying for the MA in French, Italian, or Spanish, the first exam consists of one specific question in each of the four literary periods. The second exam consists of a detailed analysis of a short text in two parts: a close reading of the text and a consideration of the text in its social, historical, cultural, and/or literary contexts. The student, in consultation with the examination committee, chooses in which of the four periods this second exam is done.

The exams for the Romance languages MA are similar to those for French, Italian and Spanish. However, in the first exam students are asked to draw on examples from both their major and minor literatures in their answer to at least one of the questions. They are encouraged (but not required) to refer to both literatures in their answers to the other three short questions.

The graduate secretary informs the students and the examination committee members of the scheduled exam date.

Examination Committee

By the sixth week of fall term in the second year, students submit to their advisors and to the director of graduate studies an MA Examination Committee form with the names of faculty members suggested to cover other examination periods and signed by the committee chair.

By the end of the tenth week of fall term in the second year, students submit a preliminary examination reading list of literary works on which to be examined to the members of their exam committees and to the director of graduate studies.

Examination Reading List

Students construct a reading list, drawn up in consultation with the exam committee, using the departmental reading list and the syllabuses and bibliographies of the seminars they have taken, as well as the summer reading done in preparation for the fall forum.

For students studying for the MA in French, Italian, or Spanish, the reading list consists of at least ten items in each of the four periods, drawn up in consultation with the exam committee. Of the ten works in each period, at least five must be chosen from the departmental reading list. The other works can be suggested by the student, based on his or her own interests and readings.

For students studying for the MA in Romance languages, the reading list consists of at least twelve items in each of the four periods: eight in the major language and four in the minor. Of the eight works in the major language, at least four must be chosen from the departmental reading list; all texts in the minor language must be chosen from the departmental reading list.

The examination reading list also contains two additional secondary readings (usually literary histories or general literary surveys) that cover the four periods, also drawn from the departmental reading list.

The final version of the examination reading list must be approved and signed by the student’s exam committee and filed with the graduate secretary by the end of winter term of the second year. Students are responsible for distributing the approved reading list to the MA committee members as soon as the list is approved.

Examination Questions

In all fields, one of the two exams must be answered in the candidate’s major language; the other can be written in the major language or in English. Choice of language is to be determined in consultation with the committee chair.

The four members of the MA exam committee work together to prepare the questions for the candidate. The exam committee chair is responsible for collecting questions from the committee members and submitting them to the graduate secretary. On the first exam, the candidate answers four questions, choosing between two questions in each of four periods. On the second exam, the candidate chooses between two possible selections for the close reading analysis. The four members read and grade both exams and come to an agreement on the final grade to be submitted for each exam. The committee chair moderates this discussion, submits the grades to the graduate secretary, and communicates the results to the candidate. The student passes when the average grade for each exam is satisfactory (low pass, pass or high pass).

The master’s examination is a closed book exam and therefore without footnotes or a bibliography. The exam must be typed using a twelve-point font, double-spaced.

Students who fail the master of arts examination in whole or in part will be allowed to take it over (in whole or in part) once. They are encouraged to do so during the course of the following term (usually the summer session) and no later than six months after failing. If they fail again, they are disqualified.

Research: [Topic] (FR 601), Research: [Topic] (ITAL 601), or Research: [Topic] (SPAN 601)  and Practicum: [Topic] (FR 606), Practicum: [Topic] (ITAL 606), or Practicum: [Topic] (SPAN 606). Students who hold a GTF appointment may register for 2 credits of Practicum or one credit of Research in order to complete the nine credits per term required by the Division of Graduate Studies (two graduate courses constitute 8 credits). During the first quarter of their first year, students holding a GTF appointment use Practicum to develop their teaching skills in practical application. Students not holding a GTF appointment are encouraged to take a third course (for a total of 12 credits) or 1 credit of Research to work on an independent research project.

Reading and Conference: [Topic] (FR 605), Reading and Conference: [Topic] (ITAL 605), or Reading and Conference: [Topic] (SPAN 605). Students may request to do a Reading and Conference course to address a specific problem on which no course currently exists. Before the end of the term preceding the Reading and Conference course, the student prepares a project proposal and submits it to the faculty member with whom he or she wants to work. The project proposal should include a statement of the problem the student wants to explore and a tentative reading list of primary and secondary sources. Only one 4-credit Reading and Conference course may be used to satisfy requirements for the MA degree.

Reading and Conference: [Topic] (RL 605). The purpose of this required independent reading course is to motivate students to begin reading during the summer following their first year in the MA program in preparation for the exams that will take place in the spring term of their second year.

During the spring term of the first year of the MA program, students present to their advisors a reading list of eight to ten works to be studied during the summer. The books must belong to no more than two of the periods defined by the MA program, and five of the books must be taken from the departmental reading list. At least one of the texts should be a literary history or a similar text about the period. This approved list (signed by the faculty advisor) will be submitted to the director of graduate studies before the end of the spring term.

In fall term, students will register for a 2-credit, graded Reading and Conference course with the director of graduate studies as the instructor of record.

In the third week of the fall term of the second year, students present the findings of their summer study in a public forum. This one-day forum is organized as a professional meeting, with a chair for each session, a discussion following the presentations, and refreshments. Most Romance language faculty members are present during these presentations, as well as all MA students.

Presentations are fifteen minutes long and delivered in English. Presentations focus on the main themes that students have explored in their readings. Students should be able to discuss both literary techniques and historical context of the period selected, providing examples from the books they have read. Plot summaries should be avoided.

At the end of the presentations, the faculty members meet to evaluate the presentations. On satisfactory completion of this exercise, students receive 2 graded credits for the course. If the faculty members find that a presentation was deficient, they recommend that the student do supervised reading with the faculty specialist in the period before being assigned a grade and receiving course credit.