French Program {Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures}

Image: Photos of SF State students

The M.A. Program in French

The M.A. Program in French at SFSU is primarily focused on the study of literature and culture, from the Middles Ages to the 20th century. Our objective is to offer interesting and challenging courses, based on original research and the specialized fields of the French faculty, to teach and inspire students to do graduate work while developing their knowledge of French and Francophone literature and culture.

All graduate courses are conducted in French and students are expected to use French in all their work, including their Master’s thesis (if they choose this option). We offer a variety of courses on periods, genres and themes. Courses are rotated and renewed over a period of two to three years. Students are required to take courses covering 5 different periods / areas from the Middles Ages to the 20th century among the 7 offered.

We usually hire up to two graduate students per semester as Teaching Associates for first and second semester French (normally for a maximum of 2 semesters). Applications for such positions are made after the first semester of graduate study.

It generally takes two years to complete all the requirements for the MA program in French, but it may take more time, according to work schedules or other considerations, especially if one chooses the Master’s thesis to complete his/her culminating experience. A maximum of seven years is allowed.


Application to the graduate program is a two-step process.

  1. You need first to apply to the Division of Graduate Studies. To be eligible as a graduate student at S.F.S.U, you need to have at least a 3.0 GPA in your last 60 units and have earned a B.A. or equivalent 4-year post-secondary degree. Information about procedures and deadlines for application can be found at: Please read carefully the information given on this site. The application itself has to be made online and all materials required by the Division of Graduate Studies should be sent to : Division of Graduate Studies, Administration Building 254, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway, CA 94132 After you have submitted your online application, you will be issued a Student Identification Number and a Password, using which you can access your application file online and check the status of your application. Be sure to log in and check on your status frequently, to see if your application materials have arrived and to see if you are missing any documentation. When all of the documents required by the Division of Graduate Studies have been received, your file will be sent to the French Program for Department Review. For information on financial aid, contract the Financial Aid Office, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (Phone: 415-338-7000; Email:; Web site: Please note that international students are NOT eligible for financial aid.
  2. In order to be accepted by the French Program, you need to send directly to the French Graduate Adviser (see below): - a 500 word statement of purpose in English alongside with the same or a similar statement in French - a sample of your written work in French (such as a literary dissertation) - two letters of recommendation. - A short CV including your contact information (such as email/ phone/ address), degrees granted and in progress, if applicable: teaching experience, and other pertinent information. - It is also recommended to send to the French Graduate Adviser an unofficial copy of your transcripts and a copy of the application you sent to the Division of Graduates Studies.

Finally, you need to make an appointment for a short oral interview in French (in person or by phone). Contact Professor Le Marchand ( or 415-338-7419)

All materials required by the French Program should be sent to:

French Graduate Adviser (Professor Le Marchand)
Department of Foreign Languages, HUM 475
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132

If you do not have a French B.A., you will need to discuss your eligibility for the French M.A. Program with the Graduate Adviser, to determine what remedial work you may have to do before being admitted to the M.A. Program, or concurrent with your M.A. studies. Typically, such students are conditionally admitted to the program.

To start in SPRING, the deadline for application is November 1st. To start in FALL, the deadline for application is May 1st. Check for degree program deadlines.



The M.A. Program in French at SFSU requires the completion of 30 units of course work in French Literature, culture or language, and offers two different culminating experience options, Master's Comprehensive Written and Oral Examinations, or a Master's Thesis and Master's Comprehensive Oral Examination.

Option I

30 units of coursework and Comprehensive Written and Oral Examinations.

Option II

27 units of coursework and FR 898 Master’s Thesis (3 units), plus a Master’s Comprehensive Oral Examination.

Students must take a minimum of 15 units of graduate courses in French.

For the remaining courses, they have the choice of 6 units of graduate / paired courses in French, and 9 or 6 units (according to the option) of graduate /paired / undergraduate courses in French, or related subjects. For instance, students interested in the teaching profession can take two courses in related subjects from the Foreign Language Department: Curriculum and Instruction I and II, e.g. 6 units of graduate course work towards the completion of their degree.

Transfer of units and cross-registration:

You may transfer up to 12 units taken as an Unclassified Graduate Student at SFSU, subject to approval of the graduate adviser.

If you cannot find courses to meet your interests or time schedule in our program, you may take up to 3 units per semester through cross-registration at other universities, in particular U.C. Berkeley, subject to approval by the graduate adviser.

You may transfer up to 6 post-baccalaureate units you took at another university, subject to approval by the graduate adviser in French and the graduate division of SFSU, as long as these units were not counted towards another diploma.

Level I and Level II English requirement

All graduate students at SFSU must complete Level I and Level II writing English requirements. The level I requirement is met when applying to the French M.A. program, by giving to the French Program a statement of purpose in English (500 words) along side the same or a similar statement written in French.

The level II writing requirement needs to be met while in the graduate program. It can be met in the following ways:

Option I:

by submitting for evaluation to the French faculty either a 15-20 page essay written in English for a graduate class (program other that the French Program), or the English translation of a 15-20 page essay written in French for a graduate class from the French Program, unless the French instructor of that class accepts to receive an essay written in English.

Option II:

students writing a thesis must write a 15-page summary of their thesis in English, if they do not choose option I. This summary will be submitted for evaluation to the French faculty.

In order to fulfill this requirement successfully, discuss how to be best prepared for it with the graduate advisor early in the course of your graduate studies, especially if English is not your first language or if you have deficiencies in writing.

For more information on the M.A. Program in French requirements and option, consult the following documents:



Here is a sample of French M.A. courses taught in the past 3 years:

  • L’Amour et la Guerre au Moyen Age
  • Les Femmes du Moyen Age à la Renaissance
  • Le Corps à la Renaissance
  • Le Conte de Fées du 17e siècle
  • Le Spectacle du Moyen Age au 17e siècle
  • Le Théâtre du 17e et 18e siècle
  • Les Philosophes (18e siècle)
  • Les Deux Sexes du Roman (18e siècle)
  • Le Roman du 19e siècle
  • Paris: Capitale du 19e siècle
  • Théâtre et poésie romantique
  • Art et Poésie 1860-1940
  • Le Roman du 20e siècle
  • Humour, Arts et Littérature (20e siècle)
  • La Francophonie (20e siècle)

Exhaustive on-line French MA course titles and descriptions are available at:

For a description of the MA and upper-division courses offered during the current semester, go to the course section of this web site. You can also check the schedule at


Students can do part of the M.A. degree in France. They can participate in an exchange program with universities in Paris (MICEFA), coordinated by the office of International Programs on campus. The number of credits earned abroad that may be counted towards the M.A. is determined though consultation with the Graduate French Program advisor at San Francisco State University.

SF State Home