MA degree requirements

Incoming students are assigned an individual advisor who will guide them with their choice of courses and will help them with the first steps towards the choice of a research field. Once an MA essay topic is chosen, the MA sponsor becomes the main advisor.  All requirements for the MA degree must be completed by the end of the second year (four years for students attending part-time).

The minimum for good standing is a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 derived from all courses in which a student has registered and received a grade.

The total number of credit points for the degree is 30 (8 courses worth 3 points each, plus one MA essay worth 6 points).

Registration at the Graduate School is a two-part process that consists of registering for individual courses and registering for Residence at the University. All students must complete BOTH parts of the registration process.

  • Students in all degree programs are required to register in each fall and spring semester until all degree requirements have been completed or until the time-to-degree limit has been reached. 
  • Enrollment is the completion of the registration process and affords the full rights and privileges of student status.

Students must petition for Transfer Credit within their first semester of registration.

The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will consider, in consultation with other faculty, transfer credit awards for graduate courses taken previously at Columbia. Students will submit the Application for Transfer Credit and relevant materials to the department’s DGS.

Degree requirments

All MA students are required to take eight classes and write an MA essay. No class other than the Proseminar may be taken Pass/Fail. The classes are distributed in the following manner:

  • Proseminar (an introduction to research methods, critical approaches, and techniques of close reading). This class is taken Pass/Fail.
  • Four classes in four of the following seven fields of French and Francophone literature and culture: Middle Ages, Renaissance, Classical, Enlightenment, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth and Twenty-first Century, Francophone. These classes may not be taken for R credit.
  • Three electives classes. Two may be taken outside of the French department after consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Two of these electives may be taken for R credit.

There are two basic categories of graduate courses offered by the Department, roughly distinguished as lectures (4000-level courses) and seminars (6000- and 8000-level courses). These distinctions correspond to the course number designations in the bulletin and registration listings. The 4000-level lecture courses, which typically allow for discussion, cover broad aspects of a given period. The 6000- and 8000-level seminars are specialized courses. These courses focus on particular writers, themes, genres, movements or theories.

Students may take courses for a grade or for "R" credit for which they receive no letter grade. Before registering for a class as “R” credit, they should consult with the professor about the requirements in this case. If students take the class for a grade, they must complete the required work/term papers, oral presentations and/or examinations.

MA students should have their program of courses approved by the Director of Graduate Studies at the beginning of each semester.

The MA essay is a paper of approximately 30 to 40 pages, either developing a paper written for a class or based on new research. Students must choose a sponsor (in consultation with the DGS if necessary) and consult regularly with him or her.

  • The MA essay gives students practice in carrying out a research project that, while necessarily limited in length and in scope (30 to 40 pages), presents a problem treated in more depth than in a term paper. Under the guidance of a sponsor, they compile an adequate bibliography, choose the appropriate methodological approach, organize the material, and present it in a scholarly (as well as readable) fashion. 
  • The essay should be written according to the specifications of the MLA Style Sheet. When the sponsor has approved the essay, the student provides the second committee member and the Graduate Coordinator with final copies. The essay is defended orally before the committee consisting of the sponsor and one other member of the faculty, at least one of whom must be a tenured associate or full professor.
  • To receive the letter grade/credit for the MA essay, students must include course FREN G8092 MA Essay Direction in registration.

The MA degree is awarded in October, January and May. Please consult with the Graduate Coordinator for all questions concerning deadlines for applying. All requirements for the MA degree must be completed by the end of the second year (four years for students attending part-time).