How to Apply

How to Apply

No single criterion stands as an adequate forecaster of probable success in graduate work. The successful degree applicant is evaluated on each of the following criteria:

  1. Undergraduate grade-point average, with emphasis given to the grade-point average in the major
  2. Grade-point average in previous graduate work
  3. At least three academic references
  4. An oral and written sample of skills in the French language for English and speakers of other languages, and in the English language for francophones

Basic Requirements for Admission

  • Complete the Graduate School Application on the Graduate School Admissions and Program Information Portal
  • A Non-refundable Application Fee
  • Official transcripts of all post-secondary work, showing degree(s) earned. International applicants must submit official or attested university records. If the records are not in English, certified translations must be submitted. Notarized copies are not sufficient.
  • (Please note:  When you submit your electronic application you will need to upload a copy of your transcripts.  If you are recommended for admission into the French and Francophone Studies graduate program you will be notified that official/original transcripts must be sent from the originating institutions for review by the Graduate School, in order to finalize your admission.  Official transcripts will then be sent directly to the Penn State Grad School (not the department of French and Francophone Studies).  The Grad School will include instructions for the submission of the official transcripts at this time.

These application materials should be submitted electronically when filing your online application:

  • Assistantship Application
  • Minimum of three letters of recommendation from college faculty who know your work well. In seeking letters of recommendation, we would ask that the following points be addressed:
    • Research abilities (what concrete evidence; potential)
    • Teaching abilities (experience and potential)
    • Candidate’s fluency in French, written and spoken
  • Two-part Statement of Purpose:
    • Part I
      This one-page statement should focus on your background in French Studies as well as your academic/research interests. If possible, you should link your discussion to one or more of the fields of concentration at Penn State (Civilization or Literature).
    • Part II
      Prepare a list of courses that have shaped your interests in graduate studies in French. Please include upper-level or graduate-level courses with brief descriptions and any other relevant experience. Coursework might include French/Francophone civilization, literature, linguistics and foreign language acquisition and related areas in the humanities and social sciences (linguistics, philosophy, history, anthropology, political science, etc.)
  • Writing sample in French, on an academic topic. If you wrote a senior or Masters thesis or other well-developed research project, please enclose a copy.
  • A copy of your transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended.
  • In order to help us assess your level of fluency and pronunciation, the French department requires a three-minute CD recording be mailed directly to the department, or an MP3 file may be submitted as an e-mail attachment (send to Heather Rutten Talk about things you would like us to know about you and your academic interests that are not reflected in your official record.
    The recording should be completed:
    • in French for Anglophones;
    • in English for Francophones; or
    • in both French and English for non-Anglophone, non-Francophone applicants
  • International students for whom English is not a native language, or who do not hold a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited university whose language of instruction is English, must take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language); the minimum score for the internet-based test (iBT) is a total of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section. For the paper-based test, a minimum score of 550 (taken prior to July 2017) and a combined section total of 60 or greater (taken July 2017 or later) is required. IELTS scores are also accepted, with a minimum score of 6.5 required. Official TOEFL scores must be submitted to the University by Educational Testing Services (ETS). The Penn State University code to reference is 2660.
  • Scores from the graduate record examinations (GRE) are optional.


The deadline for applicants to be considered for Fall semester admission is January 15 of that year, except when January 15 coincides with Martin Luther King Day, in which case the due date is January 16. Please submit your online application and all supporting materials by this date.

Please do not submit information with your application that cannot be used in the admission decision process, e.g. medical records, statements from physicians or psychologists, or legal documents. Such information will be returned.

To be issued a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student Status (I-20) or a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019), a student must have been admitted to a full-time program and provide a financial guarantee for their expenses. The U.S. government requires that schools determine the individual can meet their expenses without resorting to unlawful employment or public funds. See Financial Guarantee Requirements.