How do I Earn a French PhD?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 January 2019
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To receive a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in French language arts or Francophone studies, you should begin by receiving a four-year degree such as a bachelor’s degree in French or a related field. The process of applying to and being admitted by a graduate school can take some time and may have a number of requirements. Starting your admissions process early, and looking at the requirements for programs you are interested in, can often be helpful. Once you are admitted into a French PhD program, you will then need to complete the necessary coursework and likely choose an area of specialization to receive your degree.

A French PhD can often be used to teach French at a university or college level, as well as for finding work as a translator or other language arts professional. Many French graduate programs require a four-year degree such as a bachelor’s degree. This degree can be in French or a related area, with a strong focus of coursework in French study. You will likely need to take a test such as the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), and international students may need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for admittance to a graduate program at many colleges.


Several letters of recommendation from professors or advisers are also often needed to enter a French PhD program, as well as a written essay, typically in French, or master’s thesis. You should find out whether a program you are interested in requires that applicants already have a master’s degree, or if a bachelor’s degree is sufficient. If a bachelor’s degree is sufficient, then a master’s degree will typically be awarded to you “en route” to your PhD.

Once you are admitted into a graduate program, you can then begin working on your French PhD. If you only have a bachelor’s degree, then you may need to work on your master’s degree as well. Some schools require a Master of Arts in French or a related area, and then require coursework for you to receive a Master of Philosophy in French before moving on to work on your French PhD. You may also be expected to teach lower level French language classes as part of your work toward your PhD. Many PhD programs also offer a number of specializations or areas of study to focus upon as you complete your coursework.

These specializations can include subjects such as translation studies, comparative language studies, and international studies of French-speaking regions. You will likely want to choose such a specialization so you have a focus for your doctoral dissertation. Many French PhD programs require that you complete, present, and defend a dissertation before a panel of professors and French linguists in order to complete the program and receive your PhD.



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