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PhD in French & Francophone or Italian Studies

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The Department offers a doctoral programs in French & Francophone Studies and Italian Studies. Each gives students an opportunity to achieve a high level of scholarly competence and to develop the capacity to contribute original knowledge to the field. We are committed to the interdisciplinary study of language, literature, film and culture. Our faculty has a great depth and breadth of expertise, particularly in medieval and Renaissance culture and literature, linguistics, modern and contemporary literature, and film studies.

Our PhD programs build on linguistic, literary, film and cultural studies to support a selection of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies. The programs provide an intellectually rigorous and focused but flexible set of core courses to prepare students for the pursuit of more specific individual research interests. Students will also receive preparation in world language pedagogy and the history and structures of language, establish coordinated theoretical grounding in one or more disciplines, and achieve proficiency in two professionally relevant languages in addition to French or Italian and English.

Students will have full use of the Department’s broad cultural competencies and access to a wide range of interdisciplinary resources in the University’s other Departments and Schools. Plans of study will include selected, pertinent courses in other Departments depending on individual students’ qualifications and specializations. This structure strongly supports interdisciplinary development, as students will interact with programs, Departments and Centers such as African American and African Studies, Second Language Studies, History, History of Art, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Film Studies, Disability Studies, Comparative Cultural Studies, Sexuality Studies, Folklore and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Goals include:

  1. to provide students with the analytical tools and research skills necessary to conceive, create, and publish original and significant research in their chosen fields;
  2. to train students to become effective post-secondary teachers in their fields through workshops, observations, apprenticeships, and the opportunity to teach a variety courses; and
  3. to prepare students to become leaders in their future institutions of employment and scholarly fields through seminars, workshops, and service opportunities that expose them to the administration of departments, universities, and professional organizations. With the innovative coursework and wide range of experiences in research, teaching, and service our program offers, students may expect to become competitive candidates on the job market and successful working professionals.

The path towards the PhD degree follows a natural progression from course work to candidacy to dissertation. For students entering without an approved MA degree, the PhD is a five-year program. Students take courses for approximately two and a half years before taking their candidacy examinations in Spring of their third year. Upon successfully passing their candidacy examinations, students submit and defend a dissertation prospectus in early Autumn of their fourth year and then engage in writing the dissertation. For students entering the PhD program with an approved MA degree, the program normally takes four years. Students take courses for one and a half years then continue as explained above. Students in the program who are making good progress but who have not finished their dissertation by their last year of regular funding may apply for an additional year of funding. Such funding is awarded on a competitive basis and is in no way guaranteed.

Current FRIT Graduate Students should always plan in consultation with their Faculty Advisors, the Chair of Graduate Studies, and the Academic Program Coordinator.


Program Information

1. The FRIT PhD programs require 86 credits (36 for the MA in progress and 50 hours of original coursework for the PhD) GSH 7.1.

2. Completion of the following residency requirements:

  • minimum of 24 graduate credit hours at Ohio State (for students with transfer credit)
  • minimum of two consecutive pre-candidacy semesters or one semester and a Summer session with full-time enrollment
  • A student must be registered for at least three graduate credit hours during the Autumn or Spring semester(s) or summer term(s) of the candidacy examination, the Autumn or Spring semester or Summer term of the final oral examination, and the Autumn or Spring semester or Summer term of expected graduation (GSH 7.1).

3. Successful completion of a Candidacy Examination at least one semester before a student can defend and graduate (GSH 7.3).

4. Registration for 3 hours of graduate credit each semester following candidacy until graduation - "continuous enrollment" (GSH 7.7).

5. FRIT Graduate Students are required to take coursework in theory, culture, literature, language, courses outside of FRIT (primarily to complete a minor or GIS), exam preparation, and writing.


All doctoral candidates must successfully complete required coursework (comprised of theory, language, culture, courses outside FRIT to complete a GIS/minor, exam preparation, and writing), pass a qualifying paper and oral defense, pass a candidacy examination (with a written and an oral component), successfully defend a dissertation prospectus, and pass a final oral examination on the dissertation and the designated special areas of research.

Program Guidelines

While we encourage our PhD students to begin thinking of their main area of specialization and even of an eventual dissertation as early as possible in their program, we also want them to keep in mind the realities of the job market they will eventually enter. To that end, they should take a broad range of courses throughout their degree program in order to establish a familiarity with areas of French, Francophone, or Italian Studies outside of their specialization. Universities hiring at the Assistant Professor level today tend to favor candidates with solid pedagogical training and teaching experience and with at least two areas of teaching expertise. PhDs pursuing non-academic careers also find a broad range of coursework essential. Examples of primary or secondary areas of specialization include, among many others, comparative studies, film studies, gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, medieval and renaissance studies, and second language acquisition.


During the first year of study, the Chair of Graduate Studies will advise students. The student may change the Faculty Advisor upon consultation with and approval of the Graduate Studies Committee Chair and the faculty involved. Students should notify the Department Academic Program Coordinator of their selection by email. All courses will be chosen in consultation with and with the approval of the Faculty Advisor. The student will, in consultation with the Faculty Advisor, select the fields of concentration that will later form the basis of the student’s minor and major qualifying exams by week four of the third year of study for students entering without an approved MA and by spring of the first year of study for students entering with an approved MA. The student will also, with faculty advisor approval, select the other members of the Advisory Committee, who should be representative of the areas of the student’s specialization. The Advisory Committee is composed of at least four authorized graduate faculty members, including the student's faculty advisor. (GSH 7.3) At least one member of the Committee must be from a Department or program other than French and Italian, unless the minor field is French & Francophone or Italian Studies. This Committee will serve as the minor and major field candidacy exam committee.

Students are expected to have completed all regular coursework before their Candidacy Examination. Upon successful completion of the examination, students must enroll each semester for 3 hours of graduate credit (not  taken as an audit) until they complete their degree. A minimum of 3 credit hours is considered full-time enrollment for post-candidacy students; it is generally also at the maximum number of credit hours allowable without exceeding graduate funding. Post-candidacy students must apply to the Department for a leave of absence for any period during which they are not continuously enrolled. (GSH 7.7 & 11)

Graduate Students are required to demonstrate at least a reading knowledge of one other professionally relevant language beyond French/Italian and English, such as French, Italian, Latin, German, Spanish, Arabic, or any other language related to the student’s areas of study, subject to the approval of the student’s advisor. Proficiency through coursework or exams in the professionally relevant languages will be required by the end of the second year. While speaking proficiency in the designated languages will certainly be encouraged, reading proficiency (above the second-year level) will be seen as the more important requirement. Students can demonstrate proficiency in one of three ways:

  1. By passing the graduate reading proficiency exam given by a Department;
  2. By passing a level II examination in German;
  3. By taking and passing German 6101 and 6102, French 6571 an 6572 or Latin 5890 and 5891 (reading courses);
  4. By taking and passing the 1101-1103 series in other languages with a grade of "B" or better (the 1000-level series may not be substituted for 5000 and 6000- level reading courses in Departments where the latter exist, although students are free to take any additional courses on their own). 

Students may demonstrate proficiency in a native or heritage language relevant to their field of study via a translation examination administered by the Department offering instruction in that language within the University. Credit hours taken to satisfy the Language Requirement cannot be counted toward those required for the degree (GSH 7.1)

In addition to their major area of study, FRIT graduate students will also organize a set of focused courses in and outside the Department to earn a Graduate Minor or Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization (GIS). Students should work with their Faculty Advisors and the Chair of Graduate Studies to select their minor/GIS. Once selected, students should apply for their minor/GIS through GradForms as soon as possible. Each minor/GIS has a specific advisor in the home Department. Students should work with their minor/GIS advisor after declaring. Once completed, the students should submit the “Transcript Designation” request through GradForms.

When concerns arise or persist, the graduate student ombudsperson is an impartial resource that can help graduate students explore options in resolving their concerns. Generally, graduate students should aim to address and resolve concerns within their Department. Graduate students are encouraged to discuss concerns with their faculty advisor first. If concerns remain, graduate students should then reach out to the program Graduate Studies Chair. Further unresolved concerns should be communicated to the Department Chair. If the concerns cannot be resolved internally within the Department, the graduate student is encouraged to contact the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies within the College of Arts and Sciences. In situations where the student believes the issue has not been resolved within the College, they can request further review from the Graduate School. (GSH Appendix D)