Master of Arts Programs

Admission Requirements

Candidates for all Master of Arts programs should have an undergraduate major or its equivalent in the appropriate field, including advanced composition and surveys of the pertinent literatures. Since nearly all courses in the department are conducted in the target language, students must enter the program with sufficient oral and written proficiency to perform with ease in the relevant linguistic environment.

The department is committed to supporting all graduate students in Romance Languages and Literatures. Teaching Fellowships and Graduate Assistantships are available to M.A. candidates for up to two years.

Admission Procedures

A complete application, to be submitted directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, consists of the following:

  • Official transcripts of all previous study, both undergraduate and graduate.
  • Two letters of recommendation from persons who have worked with you in an academic or other professional setting.
  • A statement of purpose (of 2-4 pages) elaborating on your professional objectives and suitability for the graduate program (e.g., previous training in language and literature, related work experience, or travel and study in a target-language country).
  • A formal writing sample in the target language of 8 to 12 pages in length (generally a paper written in one's senior year of college, or some other scholarly text, properly identified).
  • International students are required to submit the International Application, as well as the TOEFL exam scores.

How to apply and online application form

Applicants are encouraged to contact individual faculty members and to plan a personal visit to the department whenever possible.

Master of Arts Degree in French, Hispanic, or Italian Literature and Culture

Degree Requirements Overview

  1. Completion of 30 credits of coursework with a minimum average of B or better.
  2. Completion of the Independent Research Project (see below).
  3. Participation in the occasional department workshops and “practica" on pedagogy and professional formation, including the department Orientation for new teaching fellows held during the third week of August. At the beginning of each year, the department Director of Graduate Studies will inform students of the schedule of any other workshops and practica to be offered during the academic year.

Students will be eligible for the MA degree after successfully completing all coursework, filing their approved independent research project with the department, and participating in the department pedagogy and professional formation workshops and practica.

Formal evaluations of the student’s performance will be conducted at the beginning of the second semester of both the first and second years of the program.

Graduate students must take whatever graduate courses are offered in their particular language section before they will be allowed to take courses in other language sections of the department, outside the department, or at another school.

Graduate students can earn credit only for graduate-level courses ("mixed level" courses open to both undergraduates and graduate students are included in this category).

If in a given semester, their language section does not offer sufficient graduate courses, students may obtain credit by taking graduate courses in another section of the department or in another BC department or taking graduate seminars in the target language at Boston University. The written permission of their advisors is required before students can enroll in any of these courses.

Graduate students can only enroll in a total of 31 credits in their first year (to cover the 10 required courses plus the required one-credit Professional and Pedagogy Seminar) and 30 credits in their second year. Students can enroll in additional courses but they will have to pay the cost out of pocket.

Before registering for any and all courses before the start of each new semester, graduate students must have their course selection approved by their advisor, who will sign the appropriate departmental permission form.

Distribution Requirements in French

During the first year of graduate study, MA students in French are strongly encouraged to take FREN 7704 "Explication de textes," whenever this course is being offered.

French students should endeavor to take at least one course from as many different areas of the curriculum as possible (Medieval, Early Modern, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, Francophone).

Distribution Requirements in Hispanic Studies

Over the two-year period of the MA program, students will take at least one course in each of the following distribution areas:

  • Pre-1800 Peninsular
  • Post-1800 Peninsular (including film)
  • Pre-1900 Latin American
  • Post-1900 Latin American (including film)

For completing the remainder of the 10-course requirement for the MA degree, see below, "Other Distribution Requirements."

Distribution Requirements in Italian

Each semester the Italian section faculty offer two 8000-level graduate seminars (and/or 5000-level advanced courses open to graduate students and qualified undergraduates): MA students in Italian are required to take both of these 8000-level or 5000-level courses each semester.

For the remaining two courses of the 10 three-credit courses needed for the MA degree, students are free to choose other RLL courses (most recommended are those in literary theory, pedagogy, or linguistics) or, by special permission from their RLL advisor, related courses in other departments.

Other Distribution Requirements

MA candidates may receive a maximum of six credits for courses taken in our department in RLL language and literature courses other than the primary language/ literature of study, including courses in English in literary theory, the history of the Romance languages, pedagogy, and linguistics. Included in this limit are any credits (maximum of six) earned from courses in related areas of study taken in other Boston College academic departments or from courses taken at other universities: note that students should not enroll in any non-departmental course without the prior formal approval of their academic advisor and the RLL Director of Graduate Studies.

The Independent Research Project (IRP)

All M.A. candidates in French, Hispanic Studies, and Italian are required to complete the Independent Research Project as part of their degree program. During the summer between their first and second years, M.A. students write a paper, in the target language, which represents a significant revision or extension of a paper written in a graduate course taken during the first two semesters of study. The candidate’s formal presentation of the paper will be made before the faculty of the section, again in the target language.


  • In consultation with the faculty member whose course is at the origin of the project, the student will define a precise topic by the end of the second semester of the first year of study and before the summer break. That same faculty member (in whose specialization the project falls) will serve as the student's IRP director, unless another faculty member with sufficient expertise agrees to assume that role. Students should also inform their academic advisors of their plans for the IRP.
  • The principal work on the project will be carried out by the student over the summer between the first and second years, under the guidance of her/his IRP director.
  • The paper should demonstrate critical competence in textual analysis, in developing and sustaining an argument, and in appropriate use of evidence and citation of sources. For further guidelines, please consult and follow the instructions contained in the RLL Department’s publication, “The Graduate Research Paper: An Essential Guide.” The IRP will be also judged by the "Learning Outcomes" established by the department for Masters of Arts students. ​
  • The IRP should be between 20-25 pages in length, including bibliography.
  • The IRP deadlines must be strictly adhered to. They are as follows: (1) May 15th: IRP topics and outline must be finalized and approved by IRP director; (2) August 15th: first draft of the complete essay must be sent to IRP director; (3) Sept. 10th: no later than this date, students must meet with director to discuss IRP draft and receive feedback for completion of final draft; (4) October 10th: final draft of IRP must be submitted to director; (5) Nov. 1st: final version of IRP must be submitted to all faculty members in their language section.
  • The student who does not meet the November 1st deadline will not be allowed to continue with the IRP and will instead be obliged to take a written, comprehensive exam. This four-hour, Pass/Fail exam will take place in the Spring semester (during the week following Spring Break) and will cover all of the student's completed courses.
  • Successful completion of the IRP (or the written comprehensive exam) is required for the granting of the MA degree. The M.A. degree cannot be granted to those who do not complete a satisfactory IRP within established deadlines (or do not pass the written comprehensive exam in its place).
  • Candidate will make a brief but formal presentation (in the target language) of the finished IRP before the faculty of his/her section, followed by a short discussion with the faculty. The dates of these presentations are to be determined by each section.
  • The IRP will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis.
  • There will be a department-wide reception / celebration for all IRP writers in the spring semester, once all three sections have completed their formal presentations. On that occasion, students will deliver brief remarks about the process of developing, researching, and writing their IRPs.
  • Students may apply for the departmental Nyugen Research Travel Prize to engage in research, outside the U.S.A., related to their IRP. The best essays will be eligible to compete in the annual departmental Sue Nyugen Prize for Academic Excellence in Graduate Studies. Information about these two Nyugen prizes can be found on our Graduate Resources page.

Academic Good Standing

Students are expected to make consistent and satisfactory progress toward the completion of their degrees, and to meet all other fellowship requirements (e.g., competent performance as language instructor). Only students in good standing are eligible for funding, including Teaching Assistantships or Graduate Assistantships. A review of all graduate students is conducted annually (at the beginning of the second semester) in order to assess progress toward the degree.

Graduate students must maintain an average of B or better in all their course work to remain in good standing. No academic credit is granted for courses in which a student receives a grade of C- or lower. In addition, except in the case of unusual circumstances, no student may carry more than one incomplete at any given time.

Feb 1

Our programs' application deadline

The application deadline for French and Hispanic Studies has been extended to April 1st