Graduate Programs in French


Our M.A. and Ph.D. programs offer training for teaching and research in all areas of French and Francophone literature and literary history, in critical theory, film, gender and queer studies, romance philology, and foreign language pedagogy. Our large and varied faculty teach graduate courses in all areas and at regular intervals. Consequently, students for the M.A. degree can fulfill course requirements in any given two-year period, and candidates for the Ph.D. can complete course requirements for the Ph.D. within two years of obtaining their M.A. For a detailed M.A. reading list, please refer to the French MA Reading List. Our program is designed to allow well-qualified students to complete the M.A. in three semesters, and all other requirements for the Ph.D. except the dissertation in four more semesters. 

The French M.A. and Ph.D. programs underwent multiple revisions prior to the Fall 2021 term. For students who initially enrolled in our programs prior to the Fall 2021 term, the following pre-Fall 2021 Guidelines for the French M.A./Ph.D. apply. For students who initially enrolled in our programs beginning in or after Fall 2021, or chose to opt into the revised guidelines, the following Fall 2022 Guidelines for the French M.A./Ph.D. apply. Questions about the guidelines can be sent to the Graduate Coordinator.

Fellowships are available for high-ranking students and dissertators. The department has a number of teaching assistantships which are granted on the basis of a candidate’s previous academic record, knowledge of French, and seriousness of purpose in pursuing the Ph.D. For those students who have no teaching experience, a carefully supervised in-service training program is provided, which is particularly valuable for future career placement. Normally, a graduate student will be able to take advantage of study fellowships in Paris, in Geneva, and in Aix-en-Provence, and we are exploring further possibilities for funded graduate study in France. The department has a residential French House adjacent to Madison’s picturesque Lake Mendota. The House supports a wide variety of scholarly and cultural activities, including lectures by international scholars and writers, colloquia by faculty and graduate students, and regularly scheduled festivities. The annual GAFIS Symposium held each spring and monthly research seminars during the academic year allow graduate students to gain experience in giving scholarly lectures and participating in discussion panels.

Our graduate program offers training for teaching and research in all areas of French and Francophone literature and literary history, in critical theory, film, gender and queer studies, romance philology, and foreign language pedagogy.  Our large and varied faculty teach graduate courses in all areas and at regular intervals.  Applicants for the M.A. or Ph.D. in French must submit all application materials by the application deadline of December 20 for the following Fall semester.

Graduate School Electronic Application
Please refer to the following links:

  • Consult the Graduate School website for complete information about graduate education opportunities at UW-Madison. This site is especially helpful in understanding Admissions Requirements and developing a Timeline for application.

Required Graduate School Application Materials:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Up-to-date CV
  • Unofficial or Official Transcripts from each listed institution previously attended. Transcripts not written in English will also require a certified English translation of the document.
  • You will need to list 3 people who will write letters of recommendation for you. They should be in faculty or permanent academic staff positions. The Graduate School will contact your recommenders directly via e-mail once you have completed your online application. You should be sure to contact each recommender at least a month prior to when the letter of recommendation is needed to provide them enough time to submit the letter. You should also let them know that they will be contacted directly by the Graduate School via email.
  • Submit the on-line Graduate School Application for Admission and pay the $75 application fee. (Non-U.S. citizens must also pay a $6 international document processing fee in addition to the application fee.)
  • GRE (optional) institution code 1846 for UW-Madison
  • Non-native English speakers must also submit results for the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Please note that the Graduate School requires that these scores be no older than 2 years old. This is calculated from the start of the term for which you are applying, NOT the date on which we receive your application.
  • TA/Fellowship Application: To be considered for Teaching Assistantship or Fellowship support, you must submit to the department a document listing all relevant experience since you began studying French. There is no specific application form – it is a document, much like a CV, that you put together yourself. Include travel, study, or residence abroad. For teaching experience, be specific about subject, level, actual classroom hours/week, and age of students. Also indicate undergraduate and graduate honors. A separate TA/Fellowship application is not required if the above listed information is included in your CV submitted as part of the Graduate School application.
  • Writing Sample (essay or paper in French – usually between 7-12 pages in length)
  • List of French Literature and/or Civilization courses taken and Grades received
  • Short oral interview (approx. 15 minutes) in French with a French faculty member of the Admissions Committee. Interviews will be scheduled to take place after the application deadline, in late December or early January.

All materials must be submitted via the online Graduate School application. Please do not send materials to the Department.

If you have questions regarding the Ph.D. in French that are not addressed here on the website, please e-mail the French Admissions & Fellowships Committee Co-Chair.


Admissions decisions by the Department are announced in early February via email and are final. Additional materials are required by the Graduate School after recommendation by our Department for admission to the Graduate School at UW-Madison. These materials will be requested by and must be sent directly to the Graduate School as requested in their direct communication with you. These materials include:

  • Official transcript from your bachelor’s degree granting institution. International applicant’s transcripts or academic documents must include an official English translation done by the bachelor’s degree granting institution OR an official translator.
  • International applicants are required to have sufficient funds to cover expenses completely while attending the University of Wisconsin–Madison. You must certify that you have a minimum of $43,265 (U.S. dollars) available in funding for the first year of attendance at the time of admission. This amount will be greater if you bring dependents.


If recommended for admission to the Graduate School by the Department of French and Italian, you can choose to accept or decline admission through the Online Status Check of your online application.  If you decline, there are a few simple questions to answer.

The UW-Madison Graduate School subscribes to the resolution of the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States which does not require a decision from you until April 15. Of course, if you know your response before that date we hope you will let us know as soon as possible, but we ask for a written decision to our Graduate Program Manager by April 15.

Questions? Please contact Graduate Program Manager Shawn Ramer.

The Department of French & Italian is committed to providing full funding to all graduate students. Students who accept our offer of admission therefore receive fellowships or assistantships that cover tuition and provide eligibility to enroll in excellent comprehensive health insurance and other benefits. Funding for Fall 2023 and beyond is projected to be guaranteed for a minimum of 5 years of study for students entering with a B.A., and a minimum of 4 years for those entering with an M.A. Moreover, it has been our departmental practice to continue to offer funding beyond guarantee as possible for students in good academic standing.

Teaching assistantships, the most common form of support in our department, offer the pedagogical experience and training necessary to be competitive on the academic job market. Students with teaching assistantships in our department are earning a minimum of $19,003 during academic year 2022-2023. The teaching assignment is usually one course per semester, but double sections (two sections of the same course) can also be requested for an increased stipend, when available. While the guarantee of support means students in good standing will receive funding, the exact assignments are based on need, merit, and experience. Generally, a graduate student will, over the course of study, hold a variety of the following positions, which are available every semester:

Teaching Assignments Stipend per semester (F 2022 / S 2023)
French 101, 102, 203 or 204                                          (45% appointment) $9,550 / $9,453
Head TA                                                                        (50% appointment) $10,611 / $10,503
French 101, 102, 203 or 204 – Two sections               (70% appointment) $14,856 / $14,704
Head TA – Two sections                                             (75% appointment) $15,917 / $15,755
Non-teaching Assignments Stipend per semester (F 2022 / S 2023)
Technology TA                                                            (50% appointment) $10,611 / $10,503
Assessment TA                                                            (50% appointment) $10,611 / $10,503
Summer Teaching Assignments Stipend for Summer 2022
French 101 or 102 (4-week session)                           (72% appointment) $3,280

Students may also have the opportunity to teach more advanced courses, such as French 228 and French 271, depending on departmental need. Note that all stipend amounts described here are as of Fall 2022 and that they typically increase each year. It should also be noted that international students are not eligible to teach double sections at this time due to visa restrictions; they are, however, eligible for all other teaching assignments listed above.

There are also fellowships available from several sources on campus each year, including the Chancellor’s fellowship, which starts at around $11,000 per semester. Advanced Opportunity Fellowships are also available to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the graduate student population, as well as support economically disadvantaged and first generation college students. The department also offers a number of monetary awards every year, for academic performance and for teaching. Graduate students can also take advantage of our excellent exchange programs during the course of their study.


Teaching is not required for the M.A., but students in the Department must complete 4 credits of teaching methodology, including French 820, Teaching College French (3 credits), and French 821, Issues in Methods of Teaching French (1 credit; French 821 may be taken any time before dissertator status is granted). TAs may take French 820 prior to teaching in the Department or concurrently with their first semester of teaching.

To be exempted from French 820, a TA must have had one of the following preparations (to request an exemption, see the instructor of French 820, who will forward your request to the Chair of Graduate Studies)

  • A 3-credit methods course that covers the essential content of French 820, plus at least 2 semesters of college-level teaching experience in the United States.
  • At least 3 years of full-time teaching experience at the high-school level, plus courses in pedagogy.
  • Experience teaching abroad that meets one of the above criteria, plus familiarity with American students, institutions, and practices of foreign language teaching.

Students who are not TAs in the Department are encouraged to take French 820 and 821, but they may request that that requirement be waived if they have no intention of teaching.


The Department of French and Italian occasionally hires dissertators for lectureships when there is a need. It is the policy of the Department to limit the hiring of short-term lecturers to a maximum period of three years. Employment as a lecturer in either semester of an academic year counts as one of these three years. -Graduate Studies Committee, 03/14/2007

The Department of French and Italian offers several student exchange and study abroad opportunities for our students.  These programs offer opportunities for students to live, teach and research in French-speaking cities and higher learning institutions.

The Aix-Marseille exchange program is a year-long exchange program, offered yearly, that provides an opportunity for students to research and teach for a year at Aix-Marseille University.

The Geneva exchange is a semester or year-long exchange program, offered yearly, that provides an opportunity for students who have achieved dissertator status to research their topic while living and studying in Geneva, Switzerland at the University of Geneva.

The Bryn Mawr Summer Study program, also known as the Institut d’Avignon, offered yearly as funding allows, is a six-week intensive program in French Literature, History, and Theater studies, founded in 1962 by Michel Guggenheim and René Girard under the auspices of Bryn Mawr College in Avignon.

Please refer to the Departmental Policy Document for Graduate Student International Exchanges for more information on each program.

The department also provided a budget document to assist participants in planning for their participation in the Aix-Marseille exchange program.

Contact the Department of French and Italian Graduate Coordinator, Shawn Ramer for more information.

The Ph.D. minor requirement is a Graduate School rule that requires students to do substantial work outside their field of specialization. The minor is fulfilled by a minimum of 9 credits. The minor must be completed before dissertator status is granted. The two types of minors are:

Option A

1.    Name of Doctoral Minor: Ph.D. with a Minor in French

2.    Overview

Our graduate program offers training for teaching and research in all areas of French and Francophone literature and literary history, in critical theory, film, gender and queer studies, romance philology, and foreign language pedagogy.

Learning outcomes:

  • Analyze and interpret several theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry in this discipline
  • Demonstrate adequate proficiency in French to lead a well-informed discussion of literature and culture
  • Communicate clearly and appropriately in both written and spoken French

 3.    Requirements 

A student must take a minimum of 9 credits in advanced (300-level and above) French literature, culture, language, and film, taught in French, including at least 3 credits at the 500 level or above.  Neither French 391 (“French for Reading Knowledge”) nor French 365 (“Topics in French/Francophone Literature and Culture [in translation])” nor any other course taught in English may be counted toward the Ph.D. Minor in French.

Transfer of Credits

Students may be given credit for graduate or advanced undergraduate (300 level or above) courses in French literature taken at other universities, to be determined by the French Instructional Committee. No more than 3 such credits may be transferred.

4.    Admissions 

To be accepted for graduate work in French toward the Minor, a student should have had the equivalent of not less than 4 semesters of college French, and be capable of taking courses at the 300 level.

Interested students should consult with the graduate coordinator and have the minor plan approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Ph.D. with a Minor in French Declaration form: French Minor Option A Form

Option B, or the “Distributed Minor”

In this option, students take 9 or more credits in one or more departments, which may or may not include the major department. Students obtain the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee to complete an Option B minor by writing a description of the courses they wish to include in their minor, a rationale that groups them under a common theme, and reasons why the proposed minor is different from their field of specialization.