General Information

General Information

Our program is unique in offering long-established Ph.D. specializations in Culture & Society and Literature with faculty expertise spread equally across both areas. Our faculty represents especially strong concentrations in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Culture & Society and Literature, in Race and Gender Studies, and in Francophone Studies. Moreover, we offer three innovative dual-title Ph.D.s:  in French and Francophone Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, in French and Francophone Studies and African Studies, and in French and Francophone Studies and Visual Studies. Our graduate program generates and analyzes innovative research at the intersection of such disciplines as cultural anthropology, philosophy, socio-political and literary history, stylistics, urbanism, visual studies, and women’s and gender studies. Our research draws on widely ranging theoretical and methodological approaches to varied sites of analysis: city, library, archive, classroom, stage, and environment, among others. Many of our faculty and graduate students pursue ground-breaking research in the digital humanities.

Our interdisciplinary approach to French Studies gravitates around three major poles: race and gender; cultures and literatures in contact; and aesthetics/poetics. Women’s history and creativity, constructions of gender, and racial identities constitute important areas of emphasis in our teaching and research. Another major focus pertains to cultural and literary points of contact, whether related to immigration and migration, colonial encounters, history and politics, regional and national identities, or the status of oral and written sources. Finally, aesthetics and poetics are the critical focus of research projects and seminars dealing with wide-ranging primary sources and objects, in a variety of historical and political contexts, from popular culture to the avant-garde, through genealogies of literary genres from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century, and in inter-arts relations. Our course offeringsfaculty research, and graduate students’ doctoral projects speak to the vibrant intellectual environment that we aim to foster both inside and outside the classroom.  

The Department of French and Francophone Studies provides a supportive environment in which twelve full-time faculty members are dedicated to the intellectual and professional development of our twenty-one graduate students, who are invited to participate in all aspects of departmental and university life. This overview provides a starting point for learning more about our program. We believe that you will find graduate study at Penn State an exciting, rewarding experience.

GRE Scores

GRE scores are optional for application to the FFS Graduate Program.


Because our program is selective, we are able provide all our full-time students with financial support and full tuition grants.

Teaching Experience

Our students are well-trained in foreign language teaching methodologies and in teaching with technology. They also gain invaluable teaching experience in content and general education courses, giving them a tremendous advantage on the job market.

Teaching Abroad

We have a year-long graduate exchange program with the Université de Strasbourg.

Research Support

Numerous departmental, college, and university grants are available to support conference travel and dissertation research on a competitive basis. The College of the Liberal Arts Graduate Studies Office, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, the Center for Global Studies, and the Africana Research Center are among the units that provide such support. In addition, we encourage our students to apply for external grants and provide assistance with their applications .Every student is eligible for a minimum of one semester off from teaching while writing the dissertation.

Contact Us

For more information related to the program and your opportunities at Penn State, please contact Emmanuel Bruno Jean-François (, Director of Graduate Studies.

For more information related to the application process, please contact Heather Rutten (, Graduate Staff Assistant.