MA Program

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Entry into the M.A. program is open to students having an undergraduate degree in some field of French Studies. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required. All foreign applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL examination (Test of English as a Foreign Language). An overall Grade Point Average of at least 3.00 (on a four-point scale) at the undergraduate level is also required.


Entering students are advised in their first semester by the Director of Graduate Studies or by some other designated professor. By the end of their second semester, students should choose a permanent advisor and register this choice with the Director of Graduate Studies. Final responsibility for meeting Graduate School requirements and deadlines rests solely with the student.

Course Requirements

1. The M.A. without thesis requires a minimum of 30 credits, of which not less than 18 must be selected from courses numbered 600 or above. In lieu of a thesis, students must present a Qualifying Paper of between 25 and 30 pages in length as evidence of their ability to do independent research. The Qualifying Paper may be an extension of a paper prepared for a graduate level course, but it must be written in excess of course requirements under the supervision of the student’s research director; up to two credits of French 798 may be used for this purpose. The topic of the Qualifying Paper must fall within the area of concentration selected by the student. The M.A. Qualifying Paper defense committee consists of two faculty members. The defense must be scheduled to take place no later than three weeks before the last day of classes.

2. The M.A. with thesis requires a minimum of 24 credits, of which not less than 12 must be selected from courses numbered 600 or above. A further six credits of FREN 799 (thesis research) are required. The M.A. thesis committee consists of 2 faculty members in addition to the student's thesis director, who serves as chairperson. The oral examination on the thesis, which should be a minimum of 80 pages in length, lasts about an hour. The defense must be scheduled to take place no later than three weeks before the last day of classes.

• Credit by examination is not available to graduate students in the French program.
• No more than four courses at the 400-level may be counted toward the M.A. degree.
• Courses below the 400 level are not applicable to the M.A. degree.

THE M.A. CORE The M.A. “Core” is designed to furnish all students with a common base of knowledge while at the same time affording them the opportunity to specialize in an area of their choice. The following Core program provides this foundation. All M.A. students, regardless of their chosen area of concentration, are required to follow this program, to the extent that relevant courses are offered during the student’s M.A. career.

• A course on theory or history of ideas (Introduction to Literary Theory, French Intellectualism, Post-Colonial Theory, Feminist Theory, The Enlightenment, Thinkers of the Renaissance and Baroque Periods, etc.)
• A French linguistics course (i.e. SLA, History of the language, Sociolinguistics, etc.
• Three (3) culture/literature courses from three different periods

Beyond the Core, courses may be selected so as to constitute an area of concentration in literature, cultural studies, Francophone studies, language and linguistics, etc. 

GPA Requirements

The Graduate School requires that every graduate student maintain a B average for all graduate courses taken in his or her program. A student whose average falls below 3.0 upon completion of nine credit hours is automatically placed on academic probation for the following full semester. If the average remains below 3.0 for three consecutive semesters of enrollment, the Graduate School requires that the student withdraw from the University.

Courses taken outside the Department

Students may transfer a maximum of six credits of relevant graduate courses taken in other departments or accredited universities, upon the recommendation of the student's advisor and with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. In the case of the M.A. degree, such credits must have been earned within the total five year time limit for completion of the M.A. degree at the University of Maryland. In accordance with Graduate School policy, students may be granted permission to take courses at local universities belonging to the Consortium. The request must be approved by the student's advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Requirements for Students Receiving Financial Aid

TEACHING ASSISTANTS: A description of the duties and requirements of students holding a Graduate Teaching Assistantship is forwarded to the student at the time the offer of an assistantship is made.

For students working towards the M.A., a Graduate Teaching Assistantship will ordinarily be held for a period not exceeding four semesters. All Graduate Students receiving financial aid should register, no later than the end of the Drop-Add period each semester, for the full number of credits for which they have received remission of fees (e.g., five credits for half-time TA's, 10 credits for fulltim TA's, 12 credits for Fellows). These credits may be taken as course work or as research hours (i.e. 798, 799, 898, 899).

Graduate Teaching Assistantships are only granted provided students take the required number of courses (typically 3 courses per semester for full-time TA’s) or prepare actively for their comprehensive or qualifying examinations.

Graduate Teaching Assistants are expected to take a 1-credit practicum in their first (fall) semester (SLLC601).

FELLOWSHIP STUDENTS: Fellowship students are expected to carry 12 credits per semester unless the fellowship specifically stipulates otherwise.

Credit vs. Audit

Courses taken on an “audit” basis may not be counted towards the course requirements.

Credits and Units:

While program requirements are measured in “credits” (30 credits are required for the M.A.), the University of Maryland uses a different scale to verify students’ full-time status. Students who hold fellowships should pay close attention to this requirement (as well as foreign students who do not receive financial aid). Note that depending on their numbering (400-level, 600-level, 800-level), courses do not carry the same number of “units” (see the University Schedule of Classes for details).

Language Proficiency Requirement

Non-native speakers of English must submit TOEFL exam results to the Graduate School with their application. Based on these results, students may be advised to take a written expression course from the Maryland English Institute or a basic writing course given by the English Department. This course will not count towards the degree.

Comprehensive Examination Requirement

The M.A. Program requires successful completion of a comprehensive examination. The exam has two separate components: a Written Examination testing knowledge based on the student’s personal reading list (see hereunder), and the Research Paper, which includes the writing of either a Thesis or Qualifying Paper with its accompanying defense. The Written Examination and the Research Paper are taken separately. Either one may be taken first. Full-time students are expected to take their Comprehensive Examinations in their fourth semester. The written exam must be scheduled to take place no later than three weeks before the last day of classes.

1. The Written Examination (60% of total grade) includes two parts: 
Part I (20%): Commentaire de texte: 1 ½ hours. 
Part II (40%): Two essay questions (20% each): 3 hours.  
•One of the essay questions addresses a general topic (movement, genre, theme, etc.), the other is focused on a particular author or text. For the “commentaire” as well as for each of the essays, students have a choice between two questions.
•Both the “commentaire” and the essay questions bear on the student’s personal reading list (see H. below). 
• Students whose native language is English may write the response to either the commentaire or one of the required essay questions in English. Students whose native language is French, must write one response in English.  The Written Examination is graded by the M.A. Examination Committee (see section I).
• The Written Examination is typed directly onto a computer (provided by the Department).

2. The Research Paper (40% of total grade) includes the completion and defense of either a Thesis or a Qualifying Paper. Students must select their topic and committee by the end of the semester preceding their final semester (typically the third semester for full-time students). The Thesis or Qualifying Paper, which is defended during the student’s last semester, must be submitted to readers at least three weeks prior to the defense date, which must be at least three weeks before the last day of classes. The Qualifying Paper may be an extension of a paper prepared for a graduate-level course. On average, the defense of either a Thesis or the Qualifying Paper lasts approximately one hour. The Research Paper is graded by the student’s chosen committee of 2 faculty (for the Qualifying Paper), or 3 faculty (for the Thesis).

M.A. Reading List

The students’ personal Reading List is composed of all the works read in 7 of the courses taken while in the program. To this list, faculty members who have taught these courses may add up to five readings.
• Students are responsible for compiling their reading lists under the supervision of their personal advisor (who is also their research director).
• Reading lists must be approved by the members of the examining committee before the end of the semester that precedes the written exam (typically the third semester for full-time students).

M.A. Examination Committees

The written part of the Examination and the Research Paper are evaluated by 2 faculty members chosen by the student. For the Thesis, the Committee is composed of 3 members.

Application for Diploma and Important Dates

Application for the diploma must be made by the due date stipulated by the Graduate School.

Time Limit for the M.A. Degree

Although Graduate School regulations allow a maximum of five years for the completion of all requirements for the M.A. degree, the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures provides a maximum of four semesters of financial support to qualified students. It is therefore expected that Teaching Assistants will complete all requirements for their degree by the end of their second year.