French and Francophone Studies Qualifying (Masters) Exam

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Objective

The objective of the Qualifying Exam is to prepare students as generalists in French and Francophone studies.

  • Through surveying a broad list of what are collectively recognized as “major works” students will become conversant in historical developments in themes, genres, rhetorical styles, and audiences,
  • rendering them capable of interacting competently with scholars of diverse specialties, making connections regarding lines of influence and reactions to previous works and cultural events, and teaching a variety of courses.
  • The qualifying exam will prepare students to narrow their research focus in a fully-informed manner.
  • All stages of exam preparation (e.g. list construction; immersive but strategic and instrumental reading; the tracking of themes and articulation of critical narratives across wide swaths of French and Francophone culture) will sharpen and augment students’ analytical toolkit, and ready them for doctoral study.

Exam Structure

Students entering the program without an approved M.A. in French and Francophone studies will take comprehensive written and oral qualifying exams at the end of the fourth semester of study. The qualifying examination is based on three lists of a combined minimum of forty entries that span the entire breadth of French and Francophone cultural production. Students should begin to develop their lists toward the end of their first year of study and plan on intensive reading during their first summer.  Final lists must be submitted for approval to members of the Qualifying Exam committee by the 3rd week of the semester of the exam. Faculty must respond with approval by the 5th week.

When compiling the three lists, students should consult the comprehensive list (available from the director of graduate studies) for entries on literature and film. Students may substitute entries not on that list with the advisor’s approval. The number of entries will vary (at a minimum of forty) depending upon complexity and length. Students are encouraged to include items from the visual arts (painting, architecture, sculpture, bandes dessinées) and the performing arts (dance, music, opera, theater) as well. And while the authorship of French canon has historically been construed as predominantly white and male (especially in certain time periods), students should also include as diverse a range of voices as possible by opening spaces for female and non-white authors (broadly construed) when such sources are available. The lists should be balanced in terms of coverage and genres and must be arranged into the following three categories:

  1. French and Francophone Culture through the Ages. Approximately fifteen entries covering the 12th century to the New Millennium, spread across at least eight centuries. In addition to literary entries, students are strongly encouraged to include at least one entry from each of the following areas: film, linguistics, performing arts, visual arts.
  2. Genre and/or Media (e.g. poetry, le conte, le roman, drama/ performing arts, autobiography, didacticism, the popular, philosophy). Approximately fifteen entries covering the 12th century to the New Millennium, spread across at least eight centuries.
  3. A Critical Question and/or Theme in the history of French culture (e.g. material culture, popular culture, French in the Americas, colonization/ decolonization, gender and sexuality, migration, travel, the environment, war, love, power, fashion, gender and sexuality, ideology/politics, class, etc.). Students with a declared specialization in SLA may do this preparatory exam on the history of French language acquisition practices. Approximately fifteen entries spread across multiple centuries.

Written Examination

  • All students will write at least one section of the examination in French, and one in English, decided mutually by the student and their committee.
  • The exam will have two main components:
    • two proctored exams of three hours each covering on one day list #1 and on the other day list #2 without notes or books (a dictionary is permitted).
    • The second part is an open-book, take-home examination covering list #3 picked up at the Department on a Friday at 4:30 p.m. and returned to the Department by 9:00 a.m. the following Monday. The completed version of this part of the examination should be roughly 13-15 typed pages in length (Times New Roman, 12-point font, double spaced, one-inch margins) accompanied by a list of works cited and consulted (not included in page count).
    • Both parts of the exam must be completed by the 12th week of the semester.
    • In cases where a weekend proves inconvenient for the take-home, the examination may be taken over any other comparable two-day period.
  • Written examinations must be done on computers. During the period between the written and oral examinations, students should re-read all sections and prepare to discuss and defend them during the oral examination.

Oral Examination

  • The Oral Examination will last between 60 and 90 minutes.
  • Students must bring a copy of their written examinations to the Oral.
  • During this final part of the examination, students will be examined on items on their readings lists and on the results of their written exams.
  • All members of the Qualifying Examination Committee will be present during the entire oral portion.
  • At the conclusion of the oral portion of the Qualifying Examination and in the absence of the student, the Qualifying Examination Committee will determine if the student has satisfactorily passed the Qualifying Examination.
  • In the case of a negative decision, the student will be allowed to take the exam only one more time.

Qualifying Examination Procedures

1. The Director of Graduate Studies chairs the Qualifying Examination.

2. The Director of Graduate Studies is responsible for soliciting and collecting the questions for the written examination from the other members of the examining committee. If necessary, the Director of Graduate Studies may solicit questions from area specialists other than those who sit on the examining committee.

3. The Qualifying Examination Committee is appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies and normally consists of three to five faculty members. All members of the Qualifying Examination Committee will be present during the entire oral portion.

4. The Qualifying Examination Committee is fully responsible for evaluating the three written exams using rubrics to score each exam in the areas of content mastery, mastery and accuracy in chronology, articulation of connections and themes, writing style and quality of expression, and language proficiency. These scores will be averaged by the Director of Graduate Studies to determine a composite grade of “fail = does not meet expectations,” “developing = does not fully meet expectations= insufficient to pass,” “meets expectations = pass,” “exceeds expectations = high pass.” The oral exam will be scored using a similar rubric, and the scores of the written and oral exams will be averaged to calculate the final score.

5. Only the Qualifying Examination Committee members are to be present for the discussion of the student’s performance and the decision about the outcome. The student will be informed of the decision in the presence of the committee. All other regulations pertaining to the Qualifying degree will be those of the graduate school.

6. Conduct of the written and oral examinations:

  • The first written part of the Qualifying Examination (the two exams lasting three hours each) will be monitored.
  • For the proctored written part of the Qualifying Examination, no pre-written materials (books, notes, class handouts, study guides, etc.) or internet use will be allowed. Students are expected to adhere to the highest standards of academic conduct. All suspected cases of misconduct will be reported to the Committee on Academic Misconduct as required by University rules.
  • Dictionaries will be allowed during the proctored written part of the Qualifying examination.
  • For the second (take-home) part of the Qualifying Examination, students may consult pre-written materials (books, notes, class handouts, the internet.) Students are expected to adhere to the highest standards of academic conduct. All suspected cases of misconduct will be reported to the Committee on Academic Misconduct as required by University rules.
  • The oral examination will take place no longer than two weeks after the written examination.
  • The oral examination will be 60 to 90 minutes long. It will not be restricted to the material treated in the written part of the examination and may cover any topics on the Reading List.
  • The oral examination will be split between French and English.

7. The three possible outcomes of the Qualifying Examination are:

1) the granting of an M.A. and an invitation to continue on to the Ph.D.

2) the granting of a terminal M.A. to those students whose qualifying exams, oral exam, and/or overall performance in the program are deemed adequate but not of a quality sufficient to continue on to the Ph.D.

3) the dismissal from the program of those students whose performance on the written and/or oral component of the qualifying exam, and/or general academic performance to that point are considered inadequate to earn the M.A. Successful students who enter with an approved MA will not receive an additional MA, but will be invited to continue in the program.

Students who have successfully completed their coursework and passed the Qualifying Paper must submit their signed MA examination form to the Graduate School by 5:00 pm on Friday of the 2nd week of April.

Students who wish to apply to continue on to the PhD program the following year may apply internally to the department by November 30 of their third semester. In making their decision concerning admission into the PhD program, faculty will consider the applicant’s performance in courses, in teaching, in departmental citizenship, and on progress towards the qualifying examination at that point. Students who are admitted to the PhD program will begin their third year of that program (see below) the following autumn and will receive three additional years of a Graduate Teaching Assistantship to fund their studies.