Candidacy Examination - Ph.D. in French

Students entering without a Masters degree normally take their Candidacy Examination at the end of their third year or the beginning of their fourth. Those entering with an approved M.A. take the exam at the end of their second year or the beginning of their third. The Candidacy Examination includes a written and an oral portion. The written examination is divided into three parts, a major area and two minor areas. Students must choose their areas of specialization in consultation with the Graduate Advisor and/or their major advisor and should be mindful of the areas which faculty in the department cover. Students do not have to choose only areas and topics that are the primary specializations of the faculty, but at least one faculty member must have some expertise in each area chosen. Students must have taken at least one graduate course with each of their three examination committee members.

Generally, at least one area of the examination should be an historical period, such as the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, or the 20th century. Another area should be a theoretical approach, such as postcolonial, gender, or film theory; cultural studies; or Second Language Acquisition. The third area could be a genre or a medium, such as theater or film; a geographical area, such as Quebec, North Africa, or Sub-Saharan Africa; or another historical period. One of the two minor areas could also be an area related to French Studies in another department, such as History, African and African-American Studies, Comparative Studies, or Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. In order to choose this last option, the student must have taken at least two courses in that area (as is the case for areas within FRIT), and the extra-departmental faculty member who taught one or both of these courses must agree to be a member of the student’s Examination and Dissertation Committee.

At the start of preparation for the Candidacy Examination, the major advisor, in consultation with the student, forms an Examination Committee (consisting of no fewer than two faculty members from the Department of French and Italian) that includes the major advisor, one advisor for each of the two minor areas, and one additional faculty member (the “fourth reader,” who should be conversant with the material in at least one field).  The student then prepares, with the approval of the Examination Committee, working lists of the readings for which s/he expects to be held responsible.  All members of the Committee must approve all the lists and ensure that adequate breadth is achieved.  All finalized reading lists must be submitted to the Examination Committee no later than one semester before the scheduled examination.

Written Examination

The specific format of the examination is determined by the student and the members of the Examination Committee and consists of 50% in the major area and 25% in each of the two minor areas, followed by a two-hour oral portion. The examination for at least one of the three areas must be completed in French, and at least one in English. The major examination will be an open-book, take-home examination obtained from the Department on a Friday at 4:30 p.m. and returned to the Department by 8:30 a.m. the following Monday.  The completed draft of this part of the examination should be roughly 24-30 double-spaced typed pages in length. The two minor examinations will also be open-book take-home examinations obtained on a Friday at 4:30pm and returned to the Department by 8:30 the following Monday. Each of these exams should be roughly 12-15 pages in length. In cases where a weekend proves inconvenient, the examination may be taken over any other comparable two-day period. Written examinations must be done on computers.  Print-outs must include page numbers and, in the case of French, the appropriate accents. During the period between the written and oral examinations, students should re-read all sections and prepare to defend them during the oral examination.

Oral Examination

Once the student and his/her committee has decided on the date of the oral part of the exam (which should generally be held one week after the completion of the last part of the written exam), the student must complete an Application for Candidacy via GradForms. The Application must be submitted, and signed by all parties at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date of the oral exam. The Graduate School reserves the right to ask the student to rescheduled the Oral Examination if the Application is complete later than two weeks before the oral exam. The oral part of the Candidacy Examination will consist of a two-hour examination on the written part and the chosen areas of specialization. Students must bring a copy of their written examination to the Oral.  At least one part of the oral examination must be conducted in French and at least one part in English.

Both the written and oral portions of the Candidacy Examination will be taken and completed within the same semester of the same academic year. Students who take their candidacy examination in autumn rather than the previous spring (with their advisor’s permission) must schedule it so that the oral portion is completed by October 1. This is to ensure that the rest of the semester can be spent completing and defending the prospectus and beginning the dissertation. There will be no candidacy examinations given or taken during Summer session (May-August).

The student has successfully completed the Candidacy Examination only when the decision of the Examination Committee is unanimously affirmative (GSH, VII.7). If the student fails one or more parts of the exam, it is up to the Committee to decide if the student will be allowed to retake them; the option to retake parts of the exam is granted on a case-by-case basis and is not guaranteed. If the student is permitted to retake one or more parts of the exam, s/he must do so by the end of the semester following that in which s/he took the original exam. If the student fails one or more parts of the second exam, s/he is automatically dismissed from the program and the Graduate School. For additional information and rules concerning the Candidacy Examination, see the GSH, VII.4-7.

Provided that the student is in good standing (GSH, VII.9) at the end of the semester in which the Candidacy Examination is satisfactorily completed, s/he will be admitted to candidacy for a doctoral degree. Doctoral candidates must register for 3 graduate credit hours (and no more) per semester (excluding summer) until they successfully defend the dissertation and earn their degree.

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