Skip to main content

The following information has been prepared as a resource for graduate students who are currently enrolled.  This should be your first stop when trying to find information about courses, advising, financial support, searching for a job, the functions of departmental personnel, and policies that pertain to you as a graduate student.

Click on a question to see the answer.

You can find important dates, such as the first and last days of the semester, and breaks, at Academic Calendar 2014-2016

The French, Italian, Spanish, and Medieval and Early Modern Graduate Advisors meet with new students during orientation week to introduce them to the departmental programs and to assist them in registration. They will help you develop a program of study and choose your courses during each fall and each spring registration period. The Advisor will also help you choose a minor or supporting program, if you wish to pursue one. You must obtain your Advisor’s permission to add or drop a course, but you make the ultimate decision as to what courses to take. During course work, you should take courses with as many professors and in as many areas as your time allows, working to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the literature of your major; the courses you take should help you work through a substantial portion of the qualifying exam reading list. In year three you should continue to develop your comprehensive knowledge by filling the gaps you may have, to develop further your knowledge of your field of specialization, to work on your minor or supporting program (if you have one) , and to acquire the critical and theoretical tools that will help you write your dissertation.

The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) oversees your program in cooperation with your Graduate Advisor to be sure you are making steady progress toward your degree. He or she can answer programmatic questions or discuss anything you failed to address with the Graduate Advisor.

In addition to your Graduate Advisor and the DGS, the thesis/dissertation director can help you to create a program of study. If you know early on whom you would like to be your thesis/dissertation advisor, you should talk to him or her about your program of study and, in particular, about the supporting program or minor. The thesis/dissertation advisor is most often chosen too late to have much of a function as an advisor for anything other than the thesis or dissertation.

You can find out more about your fellow Graduate Students as well as our Faculty and Staff by browsing these pages!

The Graduate Advisors and the Director of Graduate Studies are available during registration periods set by the University calendar. All students see their Graduate Advisors every semester before registering. PhD students who have chosen their dissertation directors should consult first with their directors.

You must be registered when doing any of the following:

  1. Taking courses
  2. Taking written exams
  3. Defending a prospectus
  4. Taking an oral exam
  5. Defending a thesis/dissertation
  6. Holding a teaching assistantship.

All new students will meet with the Chair of the Department, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Advisors during fall orientation. After remarks by the Chair and the DGS, students will split into language groups led by the Graduate Advisors in order to receive information on the particular graduate programs of each language section.  If needed, the Graduate Student Services Manager will assist with final online registration. All course selections should be governed by the following considerations: degree requirements, area of specialization, future exams, and the minor or supporting program.

A full load for a teaching assistant is 9 hrs. (3 courses) per semester. If you need to take an overload of courses, do so in semesters when you are teaching only one course. A normal load for a student with a full non-service fellowship is 9 or 12 hrs. (3 or 4 courses). The maximum load permitted is 16 hrs. If you are a teaching fellow/assistant, you must take 9 hrs. of course credits per semester in order to complete your course requirements in the allotted time. Students who have completed their course requirements may take a reduced load. However, please note that in order to maintain your assistantship, you must be enrolled for no less than 3 hrs. of  thesis/dissertation credit once you have completed all course requirements. This means that at in the fourth semster you may take 3 hrs. of 992 (Master’s thesis substitute) if you have accrued 27 hrs. of credit. During the dissertation phase, you may take 3 hrs. of 994 (Ph. D. dissertation). For the impact of reduced registration on satisfying the residency requirement, see “Residency Requirement” or consult the Graduate School Handbook.  In order to maintain their visas, international students must enroll in 9 hours, that is, 3 courses, each semester until they have completed course requirements for the Ph.D.

To take courses in summer school you have to pay tuition–there is no tuition remission.  Note that graduate courses are not offered in the summer.   The summer is, however, a good time to satisfy the second language requirement for the PhD.

Undergraduate courses numbered below 400 do not count for a graduate degree and do not carry course or residence credit. Some students begin a second or third language by taking courses numbered 101,102, 203, 204 or 401-402; if this is the case, these courses should be in addition to the normal full load of 9 hours.

The 4th semester of the program should be devoted to taking exams and completing the thesis substitute;  the 4th year and beyond  should be devoted to writing the dissertation.

Professors will agree to supervise an independent study 840 course only if the content of the proposed course is not that of a regularly offered course. Enrollment in 840 must be approved by the Graduate Language Advisor and the DGS.

Explore Available Courses Here.

for information on the residency policy, please see the Graduate Handbook Residence Credit policy.

All full-time graduate students in the Department are expected to make good and steady progress, as defined by departmental guidelines, towards the completion of the degree sought. One of the factors that constitutes such progress is the maintenance of a full load of coursework. Although graduate students have the right to drop courses according to university policy, the Department has the responsibility to see that those students who enjoy teaching assistantships complete requirements in a timely manner; therefore, any student who wishes to drop a course must consult with his/her Graduate Advisor and obtain that person’s signature on a drop/add form before dropping or adding a course. There are special regulations on Graduate Teaching Fellows dropping courses.  Click here for further clarification:  Tuition Drop Dates

Written Exams are required in the second year (qualifying exam) and before defending a dissertation prospectus (PhD field exam) .  Professors are required to grade all exams within one week of administering them.   The Graduate Student Services Manager will inform students of results as soon as all exams have been corrected.


H – In addition to meeting the minimal criteria for the grade of S, the answer shows superior analytical skill: no gaps in the argument, no unwarranted assumptions. Evidence in support of the answer is not only convincing but also plentiful. Answer does not contain factual errors or misreadings.

S – The answer shows a clear understanding of the question and focuses on it. The answer is well-organized and demonstrates familiarity with the relevant literary texts and–if required by the question–its relevance or its implications in a wider context, whether literary (i.e., the movement and genre the work exemplifies, etc.), intertextual, or historical. The answer is coherent and provides convincing evidence in its support. The answer may contain some errors, but they are not serious enough to undermine explicit statements or assumptions.

U – A poorly organized essay in which the focus wanders and comments are sketchy. Reader senses a limited understanding of the question or of the works discussed. Major factual errors or frequent irrelevant comments are present, or the answer is limited to plot-summary. Isolated comments may have some connection to the subject. Answer may omit references to specific texts, or refer to so few that it does not address the question satisfactorily.


H – In addition to meeting the criteria for a grade of S at the PhD level, the answer clearly demonstrates scholarly competence at, or very near, a professional level. There can be no doubt that the student is well on his/her way to becoming a scholar.

S – In addition to the minimal criteria required for the grade of S at the M.A. level, the answer shows clear evidence of critical insight and independent thought. It shows full awareness of the meaning and significance of the question and, when appropriate, of how it has been dealt with by others. The answer expresses a personal critical judgement, either agreement or disagreement with the question. This personal, critical judgment does not have to be “original.” Originality, per se, is not an evaluation criterion. Criticism and/or theory based on pertinent bibliography on the subject is applied when called for.

U – The answer may show some understanding of the question but is not well-focused. Though the topic may be addressed, plot summary, enumeration, and description predominate over analysis. Comments tend to be very general; few examples are given. Factual errors or misreadings may be present.

The grades given in graduate courses are H (=Clear Excellence), P (=Entirely Satisfactory), L (=Low Pass), and F (=Failing). You become academically ineligible if you receive one F, or 9 hrs.of L.

You can audit a course with the permission of the instructor. Audited courses will neither fulfill degree requirements nor appear on your transcript. There is no pass/fail in Graduate School.

A grade of Incomplete (IN) does not reflect good and consistent progress toward the degree. If you must ask for a temporary grade of IN, you should finish your work by the beginning of the following semester so that it does not interfere with new coursework.  Note that with regard to the teaching fellowship:

  • Students with two Incompletes can teach only one course until one of those Incompletes is removed.
  • Students with more than two Incompletes will lose their teaching fellowship until one of the Incompletes is removed.  To retain a graduate teaching fellowship, Incompletes in excess of two must be removed prior to the following registration period.

Any student who requests and has been granted an Incomplete must report it in writing to the Graduate Student Services Manager and to the appropriate Language Program Director.

Most graduate students in Romance Studies support themselves with Teaching Assistantships, although there are fellowships sponsored by the Graduate School for which you are automatically considered at time of admission.  The department supports students with teaching assistantships for up to 10 semesters.  Awards are subject to funding and competence or performance.  Support beyond 10 semesters is not guaranteed and will depend on the needs and the resources of the Department and the particular language section in which a student teaches. Time spent abroad does not count as support.

Yes. A memo describing this is distributed electronically to all students during the Fall semester (see also “Awards” in the description of graduate programs).

Students typically use the last semester of MA and the last year of PhD support to write their theses or dissertations.

Competitive national and university fellowships to support research and travel (generally for the PhD) are available. For information about these fellowships, contact the Fellowship Office,   Graduate School, 200 Bynum Hall, CB# 4010 (Phone: 843-8392). You should seek information about these fellowships before you actually begin to write your dissertation. Some of them are available only for specific stages of dissertation work. A memo describing departmental research fellowships is distributed to all students during the Fall semester. Deadlines for the competition for dissertation fellowships awarded by the Graduate School are announced at the beginning of fall and spring semesters. For more information ong internal and external funding, please see our Finding Funding page.

T.A.s are chosen on the basis of their undergraduate record and experience and their language fluency. Assistantships are generally granted at the time of admission. Renewal of T.A.s depends on performance, both academic and pedagogical, and the availability of funds.

Since faculty have priority in teaching summer school, only a few T.A. positions are usually available.

The Committee on Language Instruction recommends to the departmental chair teaching assistants to staff sections not assigned to faculty. The most important criteria in this process are excellence in teaching and ability to handle a course without supervision. Positions are awarded according to seniority. Preference is given to students who have been in our program for two years continuously. A memo announcing available positions and requesting applications is usually distributed in late January or early February for the following sessions of summer school.

The normal load for a teaching course is one course per semester.  Advance students are eligible for a third section, depending on sections available and on one’s teaching performance.

  1. Exemplary Teaching Evidence based on
    1.  observations
    2. course coordinator evaluations
    3. student evaluations
  2. Strong Recommendation by the Dissertation Director
  3. Progress toward the degree.

Yes, and without any penalty or recrimination. You are not compelled to accept a heavier teaching load than you want or can effectively carry.

The university “remits” the tuition of out-of-state teaching fellows to in-state levels normally for a maximum period of ten semesters.  Tuition remission beyond ten semesters will depend on the availability of funds and cannot be guaranteed.  All out-of-state students are urged to apply for in-state residency so that if they are enrolled after the allotted ten semesters they will pay in-state tuition rates, which are considerably lower than out-of-state rates. The instate award pays for the instate portion of the tuition provided the students is still eligible (within the 10 semester limit).  (See N.C. Residency under Policies).

The GPSF (Graduate & Professional Student Federation) promotes and addresses student concerns. It meets monthly at the Carolina Union. If you are interested in attending a meeting call 962-5675.

The GRA (Graduate Romance Association) represents the concerns and interests of Romance Studies TAs to the Graduate Advisory Committee and to the faculty.  The officers of the GRA are 1) two co-presidents who are the official spokespersons for the GRA and who organize its meetings, 2) a Treasurer/GSPF Representative who is responsible for handling the funds allotted to the GRA by the GSPF and who attends GPSF meetings, 3) two GSC representatives who act as a voice for the students at the monthly graduate committee meetings and who post the minutes of the meeting, 4) a social chair who organizes student social events, and 5) an academic/speaker chair who organizes the bag-lunch speaker series. The GRA officers are elected by ballot.

Grievances or complaints should be addressed to the Chair of the Department and/or to the Director of Graduate Studies.