The Doctor of Philosophy program in French and Francophone world studies requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit, including credit earned for the M.A. degree.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree is awarded on completion of an extensive program of study, the passing of a comprehensive examination, and the writing and successful defense of a dissertation. It certifies that the recipient has acquired a sound general knowledge of French and Francophone literatures and cultures, and an in-depth knowledge of specific areas with concomitant critical and research methodologies to resolve problems of literary criticism, history, and scholarship. The doctorate should prepare a teacher-scholar capable of addressing both students and peers, and of making significant and original contributions to learning.

Students must possess fifth-semester or equivalent proficiency in a foreign language other than French. They are required to spend at least one year teaching as graduate assistants in the department.

Listed below are the general categories of coursework required to earn the degree; for more specific information on courses, curriculum, and requirements of the Doctor of Philosophy in French and Francophone world studies, visit the UI General Catalog.

Degree Requirements
Title Hours
Introduction to Graduate Study in French course 2
Three graduate courses in a related field such as another literature, history, or philosophy 9
A 5000-level course in critical theory approved by the director of graduate studies or faculty advisor 3
Elective courses 22
Master's requirements 30
Comprehensive Examination (see below) -
Dissertation work and electives (see below) -
Total Hours 72


Important Deadlines

Application Deadline: January 15th (for financial support)


Applicants must have completed the equivalent of the University of Iowa undergraduate major in French. Applicants must submit academic transcripts, letters of recommendation from three people familiar with their past academic work, a statement of purpose in taking graduate work, and two samples of original writing, one in French and one in English, that show their ability to pursue graduate work. These writing samples could be an honors thesis, term paper, seminar paper, or other course papers.

Admission decisions are based on prior academic performance, letters of reference, and the applicant's statement about background and purpose. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College on the Graduate College website. For more information, see the Graduate Admissions Process page.

For more specific information on the Ph.D. in French and Francophone studies, please contact Professor Anny-Dominique Curtius, the Director of Graduate Studies.

Comprehensive Examination

On completion of the plan of study, normally during the Fall semester of the third year, the doctoral candidate will take a  written and oral comprehensive examination. It is not a deferred qualifying test but rather provides the opportunity for the student to demonstrate the knowledge and critical skills that he or she will apply to the dissertation and to his or her career.

This examination comprises of three four-hour written examinations on three alternate days, followed by an oral examination usually after an interval of seven days.

See the Ph.D. Resource Guide here


After passing the comprehensive examination the candidate will, during the Spring semester of the third year, present to his or her committee a detailed prospectus describing the planned dissertation. Students who do not submit their prospectus within this time period will not be considered in good standing. The “Special Topic” of the comprehensive exams is normally a means of preparing to write the prospectus. The student’s adviser will provide guidance for writing the prospectus which will include a working bibliography of primary and secondary sources.


The final requirement for the Ph.D. is the dissertation. A dissertation is a substantive work of scholarship that involves interdisciplinary research and analysis, and represents an original contribution to French of Francophone Studies. In most cases, the dissertation takes the form of a book-length manuscript. The dissertation, which may be in English or French, will be written under the supervision of one faculty director, or by co-directors when advisable, assisted by other members of the dissertation committee, who will report to the director(s) their comments and suggestions. The final draft of the dissertation will be submitted to the director and other members of the dissertation committee one month before the defense date.