In addition to general university requirements for the Ph.D., the following regulations apply to graduate students in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures:

To be accepted into the Ph.D. program, students must demonstrate by an exceptionally strong academic record that they are capable of advanced study in literature.  The student will normally take two to three years of graduate courses and devote the fourth year to study and research in the country on which the student’s study concentrates. The well-prepared student can expect to receive the Ph.D. after five years of study. The graduate program in Modern Languages and Literatures emphasizes work in three complementary areas: literary history, close textual analysis (including explication de texte), and theory of interpretation. By way of preparing students in a variety of critical schools, the faculty and the visiting professors offer training in the different disciplines pertaining to critical theory, including philosophy, theory of language, psychoanalytic theory, intellectual history, and cultural anthropology.

In addition to the major language, the Ph.D. candidate must demonstrate proficiency in one or two other languages besides English, depending on the specialization. (See below for further information.)

A dissertation proposal, presented to the faculty and students in their section, is required before official admittance to candidacy for the Ph.D.

For students who choose to specialize in an early modern period (medieval, Renaissance, or 17th century), proficiency in Latin is required by the end of the third semester. Students may also choose a minor field: another Romance literature, modern criticism, comparative literature, medieval studies, or some other field connected with the student’s major field.

Graduate Study Abroad

The Department encourages and expects graduates student to do research abroad during their program of study. In the French section, an exchange program with the École Normale Superieure offers the opportunity for graduate students to study in Paris, where they are encouraged to participate to research programs at ENS, EHESS, and other Universities; an exchange program with University Paris-Diderot-Paris 7 offers the opportunity for graduate or post-graduate students in French to study and teach in Paris; and the University of Geneva offers a fellowship each year for a grad student in the French section. Ph.D. students in the French section are also encouraged to apply for the Chateaubriand scholarship offered by the Embassy of France.

After presenting a research proposal to their advisor, with the approval of that advisor and the head of section, students may elect to go abroad for a semester or the entire academic year in order to conduct research essential to their dissertation.

Financial Aid

The department has a number of fellowships for graduate students. Awards include university fellowships, which carry stipends and teaching fellowships for teaching one section of an undergraduate language course each semester, in addition to remission of tuition fees. All graduate students are expected to do four years of apprentice teaching of elementary and intermediate level undergraduate courses as part of their professional preparation. The amount of classroom teaching required is usually three to four hours a week. Students are admitted for five years, fully funded, subject to annual review to assure satisfactory progress. In addition, stipends (equivalent to that year’s teaching fellowship) are available for study abroad during the third or fourth year.

Fourth- and fifth-year graduate students may also compete for Dean’s Teaching Fellowships, which provide opportunities for the design and teaching of undergraduate courses in literature, cultural studies, or intellectual history.

Admission Requirements

Application Procedures

Prospective graduate students may visit the departmental website at for further information on programs and faculty. All questions regarding the programs offered by the department should be emailed to Prospective students are encouraged to apply online through the secure Graduate Admissions website