Frequently Asked Questions
How do I obtain an application for admission or program information?
All applications to Northwestern's Department of French and Italian must be submitted electronically. The application can be found here. We also require official transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended, three letters of recommendation, a French writing sample, and a CD or cassette recording if you are not a native speaker of French. All supplementary materials should be mailed directly to the department at the following address:
Kiley Morgan, Graduate Program Assistant
Department of French & Italian
1860 Campus Drive, Crowe Hall #2-107
Evanston, IL 60208-2204
Questions not covered here can be directed to Kiley Morgan at (847) 491-4148 or
When can I apply for the Ph.D. program?
Applications are accepted beginning in mid-September (the date varies) and ending in late December via the ApplyYourself website.
How do I find out the status of my application?
Applicants will be notified by Prof. Scott Durham, Director of Graduate Studies, as soon as a decision has been reached, which generally takes place in the middle of February. If you have not received notification by March, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies at email@example.com.
If I completed an M.A. or another graduate degree elsewhere, can I transfer those credits toward my Ph.D. at Northwestern?
No, the Department of French and Italian no longer awards residency credit for graduate work completed at another university. However, the program is designed to allow students to complete the Ph.D. in five years, and in some cases, students may request permission to reduce their total seminar requirement by two courses.
Can I get a Masters in French or Italian at Northwestern?
A Masters degree is not offered as a terminal degree except in the hypothetical event in which a student encounters difficulty passing his or her departmental exams, which generally take place early in the third year.
Is it necessary to hold a B.A. in French to be admitted to the Ph.D. program?
While most students entering our program hold previous degrees in French, we frequently accept students who have completed undergraduate degrees in areas other than French (philosophy, for example). All applicants should maintain a strong command of the French language and have completed extensive course work in French.
I'm primarily interested in teaching. Can I get a Masters in French with a teaching certificate at Northwestern?
The Department of French and Italian does not offer such a program. However, the School of Education and Social Policy offers a Master of Education with a concentration in foreign languages. Please contact SESP at 847-491-8193 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I am a non-native speaker of English. Do I have to take the TOEFL?
Non-native English speakers must take the TOEFL unless they have either a 4-year undergraduate degree or a graduate degree awarded by an English-speaking institution. If you are a non-native speaker and are accepted, you will also be required to take the TSE in your first year unless you meet the requirements detailed above.
How long should the French writing sample be? Should it be an original copy of a graded paper, or should it be a corrected copy without comments on it?
There is no specified page length; however, most papers submitted range from 10-20 (or more, if needed) pages in length. The paper should be representative of the work you can produce, and will be able to produce at a graduate level. A clean, corrected version is best, as long as the revisions aren't significantly different from the work you submitted.
What types of funding are available for incoming graduate students?
All students who are accepted into the program are accorded five years (including four summers) of guaranteed support, which generally takes the following form: a first-year fellowship, three years of teaching assistantships, and a second year of fellowship, all of which carry full tuition and stipend. Support beyond the fifth year can be secured in a variety of forms, including research fellowships and adjunct lecturer positions.
What is the Interdisciplinary Cluster Initiative?
The Interdisciplinary Cluster Initiative is a program designed to help graduate students during their academic career at Northwestern by fostering connections with students and faculty in other programs with whom they might have natural intellectual affinities. Interdisciplinary clusters in different areas of intellectual inquiry have been developed by faculty across schools and programs and will provide a second intellectual home for incoming and current graduate students. Clusters offer their own discrete courses as well as sponsor a number of activities and events for students and faculty. Students interested in choosing their electives so as to pursue dedicated interdisciplinary study in this program should visit www.tgs.northwestern.edu/academics/interdisciplinary for more information about the intellectual activities of the various clusters. Prospective students have the opportunity to select on their application to graduate school the cluster with which they would like to affiliate, though choosing a cluster is not a requirement for admission. Students may affiliate with a cluster at any point during their study at Northwestern.