In the first year of graduate study in French at USC, students typically take three courses each semester and begin working on their First-Year Paper (Comparative Field Exercise), normally taken at the end of the first year or beginning of the second year. In the fall, students enroll in CSLC 501, CSLC 502 and the “Pro-Seminar in French and Francophone Studies” (FREN 500). In the spring, students enroll in CSLC 503, “Early Modernities” (FREN 501) or “Modernities” (FREN 503), and a third, elective course, either in French or in another department. (FREN 501 and FREN 502 are offered every other spring.) The sequence of required courses in French (FREN 500, FREN 501 and FREN 503) serves to introduce students to graduate work in French through the study of early modern and modern literary and cultural contexts, and prepares them for the Field Exam, which is typically completed at the end of the fourth semester, or no later than the beginning of the fifth semester.

Students consult regularly with the Director of Graduate Studies to select appropriate coursework and maintain a timely completion schedule. At the end of the first year, students meet with the DGS to discuss their first-year review. The DGS can also help select committee members for the First-Year Paper and Field Exam.