The French department of Bryn Mawr is in a unique position among this country’s top French programs to offer its especially qualified undergraduates the opportunity to complete both the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in French in four years. Unlike French programs in large research universities, which concentrate their energies on their doctoral candidates and usually do not offer the joint B.A./M.A. degree option to undergraduates, Bryn Mawr has chosen to focus its efforts on undergraduate training and the preparation of Master’s students. And unlike small liberal arts colleges, most of which have no graduate training, Bryn Mawr has hired its French faculty with a view to teaching at both undergraduate and graduate levels and to directing theses related to faculty members’ research programs.
Each year, one to four junior and senior French majors follow the same curriculum prepared by the four to five regular Master’s students admitted after four years of undergraduate study at other institutions. The B.A./M.A. students, who must have at least a 3.7 average in French and a minimum 3.4 G.P.A., have been admitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences after being invited to apply by the French department.
To be admitted to the program, the student must first be approved by the department; if so, then she makes formal application first to the Undergraduate College Undergraduate Council: special cases) and, once accepted, to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She should apply during semester II of sophomore year or semester I of junior year (See commonly Asked Questions).
Freshman and sophomore years: Four semesters of 200-level courses and 260 (with an average of 3.7 in French and 3.4 G.P.A.).
Junior year: Two semesters of 300 -level courses taken with extra work at BMC or abroad (to count toward both the B.A. and M.A.) AND two 500-level courses at the summer Institut d’Études françaises d’Avignon to be counted for graduate credit.
Senior year: Semester I: Senior Conference and one graduate seminar (600-level); Semester II: one graduate seminar (600-level) and M.A. thesis undertaken as USW in conjunction with primary and secondary reading in the student’s chosen field. (If the student is sufficiently advanced, one of these graduate seminars may be taken during the junior year.) The M.A. thesis is usually developed from the graduate seminars or from one of the 300-level or 500-level courses. The thesis should be delivered at least two weeks prior to the end of classes in April so that the student is deemed admissible to the end-of-year exams.
Language Requirement: One Romance language other than French, or German, or evidence of extensive training in medieval or advanced Latin. Language skills will be tested by reading examinations administered by the department.
Examinations: With a May degree in view, the four-hour written field exam takes place at the beginning of May and covers the thesis and selected primary and theoretical works chosen by the student as her “limited field.” It precedes the oral, which lasts 60-90 minutes and includes questions both on the thesis and on the written “field” exam.
Same as above, except that in Semester II, the student must follow the normal undergraduate route: either a 300-level course with a long Senior essay or an undergraduate thesis. Each of these options culminates in a Senior oral exam on the thesis or long essay, after successful completion of which the B.A. is awarded. During the first semester or both semester of the folling year, the student works on and completes the M.A. thesis. At its completion, she presents the written field exam and oral defence, exactly as described above. Students considering this option should apply by January of their Senior year for a part-time tuition grant from the Graduate School to cover the expenses of their USW and faculty direction.
Consult the Chair of the French department or the Major Advisor once a professor who has taught you suggests that you might be qualified for the B.A./M.A. program. You must have an average of 3.7 in the French major and a 3.4 GPA to be eligible. The admission procedure begins by your filling out a plan of study, which you submit to the Curriculum Committee after consulting the French Major Advisor. Once approved by the Curriculum Committee, you then fill out an application for the Graduate School. At its next meeting, the Graduate Council will vote on your admission. The optimum time for going through these admissions procedures varies according to individual profiles; it may be as early as semester II of sophomore year or more usually semester I of junior year.
Once you are admitted to the program and the graduate school, you must register for your courses each semester with the Undergraduate and Graduate Advisors in French. When you register for a graduate seminar or the 300-level flexi-credit courses (i.e., those which count for undergraduate and graduate credit), you must take the completed registration form to the Graduate School office. This must be done in the first week of the semester involved, at the latest, or, preferably, at the end of the preceding semester.
According to Bryn Mawr College rules, 32 units of credit are required for the B.A., 36 for students taking the B.A./M.A. This means that you must have 4 additional units of credit to receive the joint degree. Two of these 4 come from the . In the cases of past students, the two additional credits usually come from A.P. credits awarded at admission or during freshman year or from summer school courses or, occasionally, from overload courses taken during the freshman and sophomore years. Please note that once admitted to the program, you may not take more than four courses/semester by Bryn Mawr College rules. Exceptions are not easily granted by the Curriculum Committee, which will not approve applications planning on overloads.
You may go on Junior Year Abroad programs; some programs offer more 300-level courses with extra work than others. Please consult the Major Advisor to discuss which programs allow advanced study. The study plan of a B.A./M.A. who wants to spend the entire JYA in France is often different from the preceding model and sometimes involves taking a 300-level course with extra work in the sophomore year. One excellent alternative is to go abroad for only one semester, i.e., semester II of junior year, and then remain in France for the Avignon Institute.
Since 1982 when the joint degree program was instituted thirty undergraduate French majors have received the AB/MA. Several of them were recognized during their senior year (or the first year after receiving the joint degree) by prestigious national awards and fellowships:
Amy Ogden '92, Julia Tebbets '95, Elisa Mader '96
Amy Ogden '92 , Mary Teresa Doud '92, Priya Wadhera '94, Megan Jenness '95, Elisa Mader '96, Faith Todisco, '97, Sophie Davidson, '98 (declined), Nicole Calandra '01, Kathryn Kleppinger '04
Julia Tebbets '95, Sara Gibson '01/'02, Erin Tremblay '04
Alexandra Murray '92
Alumnae are involved in the following careers:
For further information regarding the French Department at Bryn Mawr College, please contact:
Professor Grace Armstrong
Department of French
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010