The Master of Arts degree is offered in French, Italian, and Hispanic Studies. The degree is meant to prepare students to enter doctoral programs, to teach one of the Romance languages, or to take up professional positions in other fields, such as general education, business, or publishing.
The graduate curriculum offers broad coverage of French, Francophone, Iberian, Latin American, and Italian literatures. Survey courses are interspersed with seminars that are organized according to more specialized principles of research, such as author, theme, genre, or theoretical approach. Taking into account the many different ways that the study of literature has been pursued over the past two hundred years, graduate programs in RLL offer students an opportunity to explore literary, linguistic, and cultural phenomena relating to the Romance languages from a large number of traditional and contemporary perspectives, including film and media. An awareness of critical theory and the importance of history are essential aspects of our graduate programs; for this reason, students are strongly encouraged to take courses focused exclusively on theory as well as those that treat the history and philology of the Romance languages. With few exceptions, courses are taught in the target language.
The general aim of courses in the department is to combine the close, careful, analytical reading of major works of a Romance language with an appreciation of how and why the study of literature continues to occupy a privileged position for confronting the challenges of communication and understanding that necessarily underlie all the liberal arts and that are negotiated daily in every walk of life. In other words, the study of literature is the study of life.
Students accepted into the RLL Master of Arts Programs (French, Hispanic Studies, and Italian) are given comprehensive support usually in the form of a Teaching Fellowship, comprising full tuition remission for all courses required for the degree and a monthly stipend which is calibrated to meet basic living expenses. The Teaching Fellowship is renewed for the second year unless the student does not maintain excellence in his or her studies or is unable to perform effectively as a language instructor.
Note that departmental financial support does not include health care coverage, which students can purchase through the university. For more information about health insurance and other forms of financial support offered by the department, see our department's "Funding for Graduate Study" page.
As part of their training, each semester, M.A. students teach two sections of elementary or intermediate language (three-credit courses meeting three hours per week), under the close supervision of a language coordinator. Each year in late August before the start of the academic year, the department offers a two-day comprehensive Orientation Program for new Teaching Fellows, supplemented by one-day orientation programs offered by the BC Office of Graduate Student Life and the Connors Family Learning Center (held during the same week in August) and by additional RLL dept. workshops on foreign language pedagogy offered during the academic year.
The professional formation of students also includes a one-semester one-credit course,
RLRL 9990, "The Graduate Professional and Pedagogy Seminar," held during the Fall semester, representing a systematic introduction to issues of graduate student life and a preparation for a successful career. Presentations by members of the RLL faculty and other university officials include professional ethics, pedagogy, research methods, strategies for conference participation and scholarly publishing, the evolving role of critical theory, long-term career planning, as well as specific information on departmental requirements.
Students are also afforded direct experience (writing, editing, reviewing, etc.) in the realm of scholarly publication through participation in The Romance E-Review, the online Graduate Journal of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.
They also gain direct experience of presenting papers at professional conferences through the annual RLL Graduate Student Interdisciplinary Conference completely organized by students in the department.
The Department expects its graduate students to have acquired the following sets of skills and knowledge by the time they graduate from Boston College:
- “Advanced-high” linguistic proficiency in the target language as measured by the ACTFL scale, in all four areas of language usage (speaking, listening, writing, and reading).
- Broad understanding of the literature and culture of the target-language country or countries, including major literary movements and genres.
- Knowledge of theoretical approaches to texts appropriate to the M.A. degree level.
- Proficiency at the close reading and critical analysis of literary texts, which includes the ability to recognize and interpret the correspondence between thought and expression, text and contexts.
- Competence in research methods and practice, as pertain to libraries, archives and other repositories of relevant research materials.
- Ability to conceive and express original arguments and conclusions, and to present them in an appropriate academic format, in both oral and written form.
- Competence in all aspects of foreign language pedagogy, with familiarity with the "best practices" of the profession.