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M.A. in French Language and Literature (FRIT)

The M.A. in French language and literature (FRIT) provides students with a solid foundation in French and francophone literature, culture and film, in addition to French language and linguistics, introducing them to current research issues while providing training in higher education pedagogy. 

Housed within the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, the M.A. in French language and literature offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that reflects the diversity and complexity of the French-speaking world. Rigorous training in innovative research methods allows students to pursue their own interests in the form of a Research Paper. The program also provides thorough pedagogical training and teaching experience in French language, literature and culture courses. Students who have graduated from our program have either pursued Ph.D. degrees at the University of Maryland and at other leading institutions, or have pursued exciting careers in foreign service, teaching and other fields.

Admissions Information

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



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 an advisor based on their interests and register this choice with the director of graduate studies. Final responsibility for meeting Graduate School requirements and deadlines rests solely with the student.

M.A. Options

Students, in consultation with their advisor, may choose one of two options to complete the M.A. 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 an article-length Qualifying Paper of between 25 and 30 pages 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 advisor; 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 FREN799 (thesis research) are required. The M.A. thesis committee consists of 2 faculty members in addition to the student’s advisor, 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. The thesis serves as evidence of a student’s ability to conduct in-depth independent research.

Course Requirements

All students must complete courses from these three core categories:
1. One (1) course on Theory or History of Ideas
2. One (1) French linguistics course
3. At least three (3) culture/literature courses from three different periods

Apart from those core courses, with the help of the director of graduate studies and their advisor, students will create an individually-tailored program of study that best matches their interests to complete the course requirements towards their degree.

Additionally, graduate teaching assistants are expected to take a 1-credit practicum in their first semester (FREN709/SLLC601).

For additional information, please see the Graduate Student Handbook.

Comprehensive Examination

The M.A. program requires successful completion of a comprehensive examination. The exam has two separate components:

 a) one Written Examination testing knowledge based on the student’s personal reading list; and
 b) one 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 completed first. Full-time students are expected to take their Comprehensive Examinations in their fourth semester and no later than three weeks before the last day of classes.
The Written Examination (60% of total grade) includes two parts:

Part I (20%) - Commentaire de texte: 1½ hours
Part II (40%) - Two essay questions (20% each): 3 hours
The questions for the Written Examination are based on the student’s personal reading list, which is composed of all the works read in seven (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 advisor. A student’s personal reading list 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). Students will have four and a half hours to respond to both parts (three questions total) based on their personal reading list without notes, in an examination room with a computer provided by the department.

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 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. On average, the defense of either a Thesis or the Qualifying Paper lasts approximately one hour and is usually conducted in the language in which the Thesis or Qualifying paper will be written. The Research Paper is graded by the student’s chosen committee of two faculty (for the Qualifying Paper), or three faculty (for the Thesis).

For additional information, please see the Graduate Student Handbook.

Application Instructions

Application deadline is January 15 for admission in the fall and may be submitted here. Before completing the application, applicants are asked to check the Admissions Requirements site for specific instructions about the M.A. Program (FRIT).
As required by the Graduate School, all application materials must be submitted electronically through the Graduate Application Portal:

  • Non-refundable application fee for each program
  • Statement of Purpose. The statement should address relevant aspects of your educational experience, the focus of your academic interests and reasons for applying to our program.
  • Unofficial transcripts of your entire college/university record (undergraduate and graduate). Electronic copies of these unofficial transcripts must be uploaded along with your online application.
  • Three letters of recommendation. In your online application, please fully complete the information requested for your recommenders and ask them to submit their letters electronically.
  • A single sample of critical writing written in French. A second sample is optional. While we encourage you to submit your best writing sample, we prefer a writing sample in your declared field of interest. If you are submitting an excerpted selection, please include a brief description or introduction to the selection. The MLA citation format is preferred.
  • Description of Research/Work Experience (optional)
  • Publications/Presentations (optional)
  • Academic CV/Resume

Completed applications are reviewed by an admissions committee in each graduate degree program. The recommendations of the committees are submitted to the dean of the Graduate School, who will make the final admission decision. To ensure the integrity of the application process, the University of Maryland authenticates submitted materials through TurnItIn for Admissions.
For questions related to the admissions process, prospective students may contact the Graduate School.

Information for International Graduate Students

The University of Maryland is dedicated to maintaining a vibrant international graduate student community. International applicants are encouraged to contact the office of International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS), a valuable source of information and assistance for prospective and current international students. Admitted international students will receive instructions about obtaining the appropriate visa to study at the University of Maryland which will require submission of additional documents. International students admitted by the Graduate School are responsible for obtaining the appropriate visa in order to enroll.     
English 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.

Please see the Graduate Admissions Process for International applicants for more information.

Student Affairs Coordinator

Brandie Shackelford

Student Affairs Coordinator, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

(301) 405-4023

Director of Graduate Studies

Sarah Benharrech

Associate Professor, French
Affiliate, Classics
Associate Professor, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

3125 Jimenez Hall
College Park MD, 20742