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 last 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.

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)

MA students in Hispanic Studies are strongly encouraged to take SPAN 9904 Topics in Advanced Literary Analysis, which can be taken instead of, or in addition to, SPAN 9901 Advanced Textual Analysis. 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 800-level graduate seminars (and/or 500-level advanced courses open to graduate students and qualified undergraduates): MA students in Italian are required to take both of these 800-level or 500-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 presentation and defense 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 June 1 of the first year of study. 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.
  • Most of the work for 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 resulting from the project will be submitted for review to the project director by September 15 of the third semester of study.
  • 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.
  • The paper will be read by the project director, revised by the student, after which copies will be distributed to the faculty of the relevant section by October 15.
  • The candidate’s presentation and defense of the paper before the faculty of his/her section will be scheduled after November 1. The student’s brief presentation (ten minutes) in the target language will be followed by a short discussion with the faculty (20 minutes).
  • The IRP will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis.
  • Changes to these requirements (including deadlines) can be made in individual cases with the approval of the French, Hispanic Studies, or Italian section head. Student should discuss with their project director all of the preceding requirements before commencing their IRP work.
  • 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.