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Admissions to the PhD or PhD With MA en route in French

Process Description

The French Graduate Admissions committee begins its review of applications soon after the January 15th deadline for submission. The committee ranks all candidates for admission based on the application materials made available; admission and funding in the form of full Teaching Assistantships, Teaching Fellowships, or Arts and Sciences Fellowships is offered to the most highly ranked candidates, depending on the number of funded positions that have been made available to the French Program in that admissions cycle. In case one or more of these offers is not accepted, the offer/s will then be made to the next applicant/s on the ranked list.

What We Offer

This five-year doctoral program is intended for students who wish to pursue the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in French. Students who already hold an M.A. in French begin the Ph.D. coursework and requirements directly. Students who do not already hold an M.A. in French must first successfully complete the requirements for the M.A. in French, normally within their first two years of full-time enrollment. Students doing the Ph.D. with the M.A. en route will be awarded an M.A. degree at the completion of these requirements. After this phase, students complete their remaining Ph.D. coursework, take their Ph.D. comprehensive exam, and research and write a doctoral dissertation on an aspect of French-language literatures, media, and cultures. The dissertation could take the form of a proto-monograph, a series of journal articles, or journal articles paired with teaching-focused research, public humanities projects such as podcasts or curated festivals and exhibitions, or digital humanities projects such as the creation of online archives.

What We’re Looking For in Our French Graduate Students

The graduate faculty in French seek applicants who are intellectually curious and who have a desire to learn the skills of researching the French-speaking world and sharing their new knowledge through effective communication in scholarly writing, public speaking, teaching, and other avenues of public engagement. Applicants are expected to demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively in French and English through their personal statement, writing samples, and oral interview. Applicants must demonstrate an ability to construct an argument and analyze works of French-language literature, media, or culture in one of their writing samples, preferably the one in French. Most of our graduates go on to work with French in some capacity, so applicants applying for admission are evaluated on how well they can discuss their background in French and the ways in which their previous educational and professional experiences relate to the fields of French and Francophone studies. Applicants often hold a BA or MA (or equivalent degree) in French, but we also encourage applicants from different personal and disciplinary backgrounds so long as they can articulate how a PhD in French relates to their current professional goals. All applicants should describe the unique perspectives they bring to the fields of French and Francophone studies and to a PhD in French via their educational, professional, and life experiences. Applicants should discuss any previous experiences with research and teaching, the relationship between these experiences and a PhD in French, and their future goals in research and teaching in the context of a PhD in French. Finally, applicants should talk about how the PhD in French program at Pitt specifically (coursework, interdepartmental connections, faculty expertise, mentorship, research networks, etc.) will enable them to reach their professional goals.

How to Apply and Some Advice on Compiling Application Materials

Students must submit the application materials listed below. A test of English is required for international students (see below). In alignment with DEI literature on standardized testing, GRE scores are not required and are not considered during admissions or funding decisions. Applicants to the graduate program in French are considered for departmental funding as teaching assistants or for Arts and Sciences fellowships, unless otherwise stated on the application form. There is no separate application for such funding.

1) Personal statement

This is a 1-3 pages single-spaced document written in English that outlines the applicant's previous background in French or related areas relevant to their application, their areas of potential research and teaching interest, their reasons for pursuing graduate study in French, and the reasons why the program at Pitt will help them reach their professional goals. See the discussion of successful applications above for advice on drafting the personal statement.

2) Curriculum Vitae

The curriculum vitae is not a resume. It should detail the applicants education, qualifications, experience, and accomplishments in areas relevant to pursuing graduate study in French. For advice on preparing an academic CV including examples, please visit:

3) Transcripts

Please send unofficial transcripts of all post-secondary academic work, and official translations if these are not in English.

4) Letters of Recommendation

Please send a total of three letters of recommendation. At least two of letter writers should be professors or instructors with whom the candidate has worked, and they may come from any field of study. Letter writers should address their relationship with the applicant, their knowledge of the applicant’s background and previous experience in French or in research or teaching in a different field, and their assessment of the applicant’s readiness to pursue a PhD in French. An individual letter of recommendation need not address all of these aspects but taken together they should.

5) Writing Samples

Please send two writing samples (one in English, one in French). The French sample should be a piece of scholarly writing that analyzes a work of literature, a media object, or a cultural phenomenon from France or the French-speaking world. It should be 7-10 pages in length. The English sample should also be a piece of scholarly writing and it would preferentially but not necessarily analyze a work of literature, a media object, or a cultural phenomenon. Please note that the writing samples are considered very important documents in the application file in terms of assessing an applicant’s intellectual curiosity, language abilities in French and English, previous experiences with research, and ability to construct an argument. Consequently, applicants should make sure that they present their abilities in the best possible light.

6) Oral Interview

Applicants will be contacted for a bilingual oral interview with the Director of Graduate Studies in French.

7) Demonstration of English Proficiency for International Applicants

International applicants should visit the following site for an explanation of the options for demonstrating English proficiency:

Contact Information

Any supporting documentation that cannot be uploaded electronically should be sent to:

University of Pittsburgh
Assistant to the Directors of Graduate Studies
Department of French & Italian
1328 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Completed applications must be received in our office no later than January 15 to be considered for admission in the next Fall Term. Late applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

If you have questions or for more information, please contact the department’s Graduate Administrator.