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Admission FAQs

Is a Master's Degree required for admission?


Must entering students hold a degree in French Literature or French Studies as a requirement for entry?

Not necessarily. A number of our students hold degrees in fields such as Philosophy, Theatre, History, Music, and Religion. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of many of our courses and our four curricular options, many students find that their prior training helps them in their current fields of study and research projects. However, most of our students have pursued “traditional” French Literature or French Studies degrees.

Must the writing sample be in French?

We ask that the writing sample, usually an academic essay in which the student demonstrates his/her critical and analytical skills, be at least 10 pages written in French. One sample is required for applicants with BAs and two samples or MA thesis are required for students with MA degrees.

Do I need to take the GRE to be considered for admission? What score will you accept? I took the GRE ten years ago. Will you accept my score?

Yes, the GRE is an admissions requirement and the score is considered along with other academic factors. Our admissions candidates have competitive scores. Scores more than five years old are generally not accepted.

What kinds of letters of recommendation do I need?

Two academic letters of recommendation should be written by a professor who not only knows the candidate well, but can attest to his/ her academic achievements and intellectual abilities. If it has been some time since the applicant was enrolled in college, we may accept letters written by professional acquaintances who can attest to the applicant's ability to complete graduate study, in addition to two academic letters of reference.

I am a foreign student, but I completed my B.A./M.A. at an American university. Do I need to submit TOEFL scores? I am a foreign student but have taught English for many years in France. Is there any other way to attest to my English capabilities besides the TOEFL?

International students must complete the TOEFL examination. International students who have completed degrees in English-speaking countries are generally exempt.
Foreign students who have not obtained degrees in English-speaking countries are required to take the TOEFL exam. More information about the TOEFL can be found at the test administration website,

I have my Master's Degree. What is the maximum number of credits that will transfer?

Transfer credits will be individually evaluated once the student has entered the program, but up to 30 credits may be awarded to the student. Students with 27 or more credits must take at least 18 credits in the Program. Please see page 4 of the handbook for further information.

My intellectual interests are very diverse and interdisciplinary. How can I complete my PhD in French in your program?

Students are encouraged to pursue their intellectual interests as they enrich their own understanding of French literature. Many of our students are interested in cinema, theatre, international human rights, and performance studies. In addition, it is possible to enroll in one of the Graduate Center's certificate programs.

Are all the courses conducted in French, and must all written work be submitted in French?

Each semester, generally one class is offered in English, and any final paper must be written in the language of the class. In cross-listed fields, it is up to the instructor. Because of the nature of the profession, and the demands of publishers and conferences, students will be required to speak and write fluently in both French and English. In addition, some of our courses are cross-listed with other departments and programs, such as Comparative Literature and Women's Studies; thus, the course will be conducted in English.

How many comprehensive exams are required? How many language proficiency exams are required?

Please see page two of the French Program handbook.

Are there opportunities for Study Abroad?

Undergraduate and graduate students may participate in the CUNY/Paris exchange program. Information about the CUNY/Paris exchange program can be found here:

What is student life like?

Because of the structure of the first-year curriculum, French Program students find a sense of intellectual and social cohesiveness and quickly become mentors for each other in a truly international atmosphere. In addition, the Program arranges several colloquia, conferences, and lectures each year, including an annual Student Conference run by our own graduate students. 

The CUNY Doctoral and Graduate Students' Council is the main political and social presence of the student body on the Graduate Center campus, and French department students participate in their events and activities. Their website is

Likewise, French departments students have an active presence in the many chartered organizations at the GC, such as the Africa Research Group, L'Atelier, the French 17th-Century Interdisciplinary Group, and the Middle East Research Group.

What type of housing is available for graduate students? How will I find an apartment in New York City?

Please visit the GC housing Website for information about student housing. In addition, websites like Craigslist and the Village Voice are popular places to find housing information.

It is almost financially impossible to live alone, especially in Manhattan. Most of our students live with roommates in Brooklyn, Queens, or Upper Manhattan. Since our campus is centrally located off of express subway lines, few students have to travel more than 30 minutes to get to class.

What type of health insurance is available to students?

All matriculated graduate students may benefit from Student Health Services, which maintains the Wellness Center. Here, students can receive professional psychological counseling, as well as schedule appointments with the Wellness Center's licensed nurse practitioner for routine medical exams and their ongoing medical needs. The office visits are free of charge, and any lab services needed are provided at an extremely discounted fee.

Matriculated doctoral students at the Graduate Center who are employed as either Graduate Assistants or in one of the eligible Adjunct titles and meet specific income levels in those titles are eligible for health insurance coverage for themselves and their dependents. More information is available here.

What kinds of fellowships are available? Am I required to teach in the first year?

A list of Graduate Center fellowships is available through the Financial Aid office.
The Graduate Teaching Fellowship (GTF) and Graduate Assistant A/B (GAA, GAB) packages require teaching at a CUNY college. There are additional fellowships and aid available that do not require teaching.

What types of teaching appointments are available?

Many, but not all of our students gain employment as adjunct language instructors on one of the CUNY campuses. Students are encouraged to express to the Executive Officer their wish to teach, but requests cannot always be accommodated. Advanced students seek grants through the CUNY Writing Fellows program, Mellon Scholarship, etc. Information about these grants can be found on the GC website.