French and Francophone Studies Qualifying Paper (Masters examination)


Each Spring semester, all second-year M.A. students in French and Francophone Studies will undertake the Qualifying Paper, which will serve as a Masters examination. The Qualifying Paper is a 30-page, polished, potentially publishable research paper in an area of the student’s choice. This paper can be a revision and expansion of a research paper written for a previous course in the program; an expansion of a new paper being developed for a course being taken concurrently with the Qualifying Paper hours; or a new idea the student wants to develop uniquely for the QP hours.

Guidelines for the qualifying paper

(Individual advisors may impose more frequent deadlines for sections of the paper, etc.)

Autumn Semester

Week 10, 4th week of October: QP students declare provisional title and advisor to Director of Graduate Studies.

Students register for three credits of FR 8998 in Spring with chosen advisor (the Academic Services Coordinator will need to open up a number for each advisor). Students should begin preparing a bibliography and arrange a bi-weekly meeting schedule with their advisors in Spring with deadlines appropriate to individual needs in order to discuss students’ research, bibliographic development, and writing.

Spring Semester

Week 2, 3rd Week of January: Deadline for submission of application to graduate with an M.A. Form. Students should submit the Application to Graduate Form via GradForms. The student should check the box indicating "non-thesis" option. The advisor should check the box indicating whether or not the student will continue onto the Ph.D. program.

Week 4, 1st week of February: Annotated bibliography due to advisors.

For the annotated bibliography, students should aspire towards a comprehensive list of works that have treated their specific question. The goal is for the student to understand how the question has been treated by different scholars through time, what the current state of the question is, and what deserves more attention or reexamination. Students should summarize each work’s key arguments in a paragraph and assess briefly its importance to the field and to their research. The annotated bibliography is a tool to facilitate conversation with the advisor and so should be used in consultation beginning immediately when a field and advisor are chosen. See the MLA Handbook on preparing bibliographies, section 5.

Week 8, 1st week of March: First full draft of paper due to advisors. Advisors must return their revisions and comments to their advisees within 7 days. At this point, the Director of Graduate Studies will consult with advisors to assign faculty members as second readers.

Week 10, 3rd week of March: Final version of papers due to advisors and Director of Graduate Studies, to distribute to second readers. The advisor and second reader will evaluate the paper using a pre-established evaluation rubric to be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies and should give the student feedback to help prepare for the colloquium presentation. Students should practice their oral presentation with their advisors.

Week 11, 4th week of March: Qualifying Paper colloquium

The overall goal of the colloquium is to give students the experience of taking a much longer project and converting it to an MLA-style presentation, a regular professional activity for academics.  It is important that students learn to read and present such papers in an engaging, coherent, and professional manner. Paper presentations should be 15 minutes long and carefully timed. They should present the key theses, arguments, and methodology of the paper, introduce the texts or other objects of analysis (“texts” in the broadest sense of the term), and give a sense of the analysis, whether with a brief close reading of a text or piece of media or a section of the paper. Students may want to engage the audience with well-prepared use of media (e.g. Powerpoint, images, or a handout). Papers may be either in English or French but should use and quote sources in their original language to demonstrate proficiency, comprehension, and analytical skills in both languages.

The FRIT Academic Program Coordinator will collect all evaluation sheets and calculate each student’s average score on the qualifying paper, on the presentation, and on both combined.

Week 12, 2nd week of April: Qualifying Paper Oral Defense

Students, advisors, and a second faculty reader will be scheduled for 45-minute meetings. The Director of Graduate Studies will preside to ensure consistency and will bring the MA examination form to be signed by the faculty present. The defense will be a chance to ask questions about the larger written project and to give feedback on it and the colloquium presentation. At the conclusion of the defense the student will be informed whether s/he has passed the Qualifying Paper. 

Final paperwork

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.

Second-year M.A. 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, on the QP thus far, in teaching, and in departmental citizenship. 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.