PhD in French

The Department of French & Italian at CU-Boulder enjoys a national reputation, and is the only PhD granting department in the Rocky Mountain region. The department offers comprehensive coverage of all areas of French and Francophone literature, and has an outstanding record of placing its MA and PhD recipients in desirable positions of employment. The graduate program typically counts an enrollment of 20-25 students, drawn from both the US and several foreign countries, pursuing interests from the Middle Ages to twentieth-century and Francophone literatures.

The Boulder Area

Old Main Building and the Flatiron Mountains

Old Main Building and the Flatiron Mountains

The university is situated in Boulder, a town of 100,000 at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, 30 miles from downtown Denver. As part of the greater Denver metropolitan area, Boulder enjoys the advantages of a nearby large city–symphony, opera, museums, professional sports teams, art cinemas, alternative music, and diverse dining.

Boulder itself lies less than an hour from Rocky Mountain National Park, and is surrounded by an outstanding series of open-space lands and local parks, including both prairies and mountain forests with many trails. Boulder is a center for outdoor sports and recreation, throughout summer and winter. The site of several major research labs and high-tech companies, Boulder has a highly educated population that supports a wide array of restaurants, stores and cultural events. Its excellent public transit system is free to CU students.

The University of Colorado

The University enrolls approximately 30,000 students. It was recently named one of the top 10 public universities in the country, and one of the top three up-and-coming public universities. The several-million-volume library is the largest in the region by far, and the university is a leader in adapting the newest advances in high technology towards teaching and research. The university has recently made a major commitment to the humanities, including the establishment of the new Center for Humanities and the Arts and the construction of a new high-tech humanities office and classroom building, which the department now occupies.

The Program of Study

For the MA, students do two years of coursework prior to taking a comprehensive series of written and oral exams. The exams are based on a reading list given to all students upon entry. For PhD students, an additional year of coursework is followed by a year of reading and study in preparation for the PhD oral and written exams. These exams are based on a personally designed set of questions and interests unique to each student. Students then proceed to the writing of the dissertation, completing the entire program in six years.  For application information –

Teaching and Financial Support

Students are typically offered a teaching appointment to provide financial support during their studies, with salaries ranging from approximately $12,000 to $18,000. Summer teaching is also available, and subsidized health care is provided.

The department provides mandatory seminars on teacher training, and CU’s innovative Graduate Teacher Program has been cited as a national model. In addition to teaching workshops, the program offers the chance to be a lead teacher in the department, and for advanced students, provides the opportunity to visit many other campuses in the state to get a better sense of the academic world and job market.

Employment and Placement

Each year, the department offers a series of employment workshops for advanced students. Since 1993, the department has awarded 11 PhDs. Of the candidates who did national job searches (8), all were able to find employment at the university level. Job offers were received from institutions such as the following (*indicates a tenure-track offer): University of Nevada*, Temple University, University of Wyoming*, Yale University*, Kansas State University*, Case Western Reserve University, St. Mary’s College*, Lafayette College*.

Student with MAs from the department who have elected to apply elsewhere have gone on to institutions such as University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, Yale, and UC-Berkeley.

Additional Educational Opportunities On Campus and Abroad

Graduate students are required to take a number of courses outside the department for their degrees, and have wide freedom in choosing these courses. The department also has two year-long exchange programs in conjunction with French universities. The department, the Center for Humanities and the Arts, the Graduate School, and the College of Arts & Sciences all offer many grants and fellowships of various amounts to help fund graduate student travel, conference attendance, and research. Entering students are also eligible for a series of fellowships: Nominations are made automatically by the department, with no application required by the student.