Romance Languages and Literatures
The M.A. Programs
The Department includes the fields of French and Francophone, Italian, and Hispanic (Peninsular and Spanish American) literatures and cultures. The Master of Arts degree is offered in French, Italian, and Hispanic Studies. The degree is meant to prepare students to enter doctoral programs, to teach one of the Romance languages, or to take up professional positions in other fields, such as general education, business, or publishing. For complete information concerning the RLL graduate programs, visit the Master of Arts Programs page.
Deadlines and Prerequisites for Admission
The M.A. application is due on February 1. 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. For complete information concerning the graduate programs, visit the Master of Arts Degree in French, Hispanic, or Italian Literature and Culture page.
Master of Arts Degree in French, Hispanic, or Italian Literature and Culture
- Completion of 31 credits of coursework which includes ten RLL courses and the 1-credit Professional and Pedagogical Seminar with a minimum average of B or better
- Completion of the Independent Research Project (see below)
- 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 workshop and practice to be offered during the academic year.
- 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 in the department, outside of the department, or another school.
- Graduate students can only earn credit for graduate-level courses (“mixed level” courses open to both graduates and undergraduates 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 a graduate course in another section of the department or in another Boston College department, or taking graduate seminars in the target language at Boston University. The written permission of their advisor is required before students can enroll in any of these courses.
Distribution Requirement in French
French student should endeavor to take at least one course from as many different areas of the curriculum as possible (Medieval, Early Modern, Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century, Francophone).
Distribution Requirement in Hispanic Studies
Over the two-year period of the M.A. 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)
Distribution Requirement 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). M.A. students in Italian are required to take both of these 8000-level or 5000-level courses each semester.
Independent Research Project
- All M.A. candidates in French, Hispanic Studies, and Italian are required to complete the Independent Research Project (IRP) 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 also be 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 15: IRP topics and outline must be finalized and approved by the IRP director; (2) August 15: first draft of the complete essay must be sent to the IRP director; (3) September 10: no later than this date, students must meet with director to discuss the IRP draft and receive feedback for completion of the final draft; (4) October 10: final draft of the IRP must be submitted to director; (5) November 1: final version of IRP must be submitted to all faculty members in their language section.
- The student who does not meet the November 1 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 M.A. 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 languages) 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 presentation. On that occasion, students will deliver brief remarks about the process of developing, researching, and writing their IRPs.
Students may apply for the departmental Sue Nyugen Research Travel Prize to engage in research, outside the U.S., 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.
Graduate students in Arts and Sciences are also eligible to cross-register for one course per semester during the academic year (not including summer sessions) at any of the Boston-area consortium universities. Cross-registration in consortium courses is subject to the approval of the student’s BC academic advisor and the RLL Director of Graduate Studies.