Romance Studies, Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Program Description

The Field of Romance Studies includes faculty members from the Departments of Romance Studies, Comparative Literature, English, History, Linguistics, and Modern Languages, and from the Africana Studies and Research Center. It offers interdisciplinary programs in Romance languages, and literatures.

Students in Romance Studies select a major in an area of literature (French, Italian, or Spanish literature) and choose a minor in one or two other areas from any field.

French, Hispanic, or Italian literature. The field offers a full complement of courses in French, Hispanic,or Italian literatures. It seeks to incorporate current, speculative, theoretical views of literature, often reflected in the review Diacritics, which since 1971 has been edited and published by faculty members and students in the Field of Romance Studies.

Students choose one national literature as their major concentration. They are expected to acquire a working knowledge of the general history of that literature, to become conversant with the social and intellectual history, and to speak and write their major language fluently. They are trained in bibliographical, linguistic, and analytical skills basic to teaching and research in the interpretation of literature.

Students are encouraged to study foreign languages other than the language of the major concentration, but such study is not required unless special linguistic competence is necessary for the student's research. Such need is determined by the student's Special Committee.

Students with a major in French, Hispanic, or Italian literature usually teach at least one year of literature and one year of language as part of their professional training; numerous teaching assistantships are available. A summer course in language teaching allows beginning assistants to observe and participate in classroom teaching and to attend lectures and discussion on theory and practice. An orientation program on the teaching of literature is held shortly before the semester begins.

Research and study opportunities:
Students are encouraged to spend a term or year abroad to improve their language skills or advance their research. Opportunities include assistantships and study opportunities at various universities abroad. Small subsidies are provided for some students to study abroad.

Cornell's excellent research library has renowned collections of books pertaining to Dante, Petrarch, and the French Revolution. The field also benefits from the interdisciplinary Medieval Studies Program, the Renaissance colloquium, the Society for the Humanities, the Women's Studies Program, and the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large program. Cornell also has national resource centers in Latin American studies and in Western Societies.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-4264

K161 Klarman Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • French literature
  • French studies
  • Hispanic literature
  • Hispanic studies
  • Italian literature
  • Italian studies


2017-2018: $29,500

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Jan. 15; no spring admission

Requirements Summary:

Applicants are required to submit GRE general test scores and to include course papers or other samples of written work.

Students are not usually admitted for a terminal master's degree. Doctoral degree candidates may earn a master's degree during their program either by writing a master's thesis or by successfully completing the Admission to Candidacy examination.


  • all Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam for Non-Native English Applicants
  • three recommendations
  • GRE general test
  • writing sample


Outcome 1: Demonstrate Advanced Research and Theoretical/Critical Skills

The ability to recognize, synthesize, and evaluate research problems, findings, and new research opportunities. Demonstrate broad knowledge of subfields and methodologies (e.g., period-specific literature, films, and other artistic forms when applicable, literary theory, literary history, and literary genres).

Measures: Direct: course offerings, grades, papers, and presentations; Q- and A-exams; publication of articles; Indirect: departmental proseminar; evaluation of student participation, questions, and comments at conferences and in other public forums; conversations and discussions with chair of special committee and committee members.

Assessment Plan: annual meetings on graduate students’ progress; annual meetings of special committee; DGS review of course evaluations. 

Outcome 2: Make an Original and Substantial Contribution to the Discipline

Undertake and complete original, publishable research in a chosen field of inquiry. Develop intellectual independence in scholarship.

Measures: Direct: annual assessment by special committee; Q- and A-exams; the publication of articles in refereed journals; conference presentations; obtaining external fellowships/grants; Indirect: annual submission of students’ “Statement of Interest” and CV; mentoring and advising.

Assessment Plan: tracking graduate students’ employment and placement for a period of five years; review of annual departmental surveys; receiving and discussing Graduate School exit surveys/interviews; reviewing national surveys on department and field.

Outcome 3: Demonstrate Commitment to Advancing the Values of Scholarship

Keeping abreast of advances in the field and related areas; engagement in professional societies, publications, editorial boards; the creation of a supportive, collaborative environment for learning, teaching, and mentoring; adherence to ethical standards in the discipline; listening, giving, and receiving feedback effectively.

Measures: Direct: annual review of students’ “Statement of Interest”; annual review of students’ progress by special committee; evaluation of graduate student teaching by course coordinators; Indirect: participation in reading groups (French Poetry, Psychoanalysis, Early Modern, Radical Thought, Theory); attendance at departmental talks and seminars; participation in graduate student organizations; students’ organization of talks, film presentations, exhibits, and colloquia.

Assessment Plan: annual review of students’ CV by special committee.

Outcome 4: Demonstrate Professional Skills

Write and effectively present conference papers in professional forums; conception and completion of course syllabi; teaching language and language-literature bridge courses; preparation for job opportunities.

Measures: Direct: demonstrate teaching skills during observation (twice per semester by course coordinator); undergraduate course evaluations; departmental proseminar; departmental job preparation and mock interviews; Indirect: paper presentations in research and teaching forums at conferences.

Assessment Plan: DGS receives and reports on Graduate School’s and Field’s exit surveys/interviews; review of job placement for a period of five years; tracking alumni.