Mémoire soutenu

Author: fraise

Tuesday 27 September 2011, in Education

Ouf! I defended my Masters thesis today at noon. It lasted an hour, all in French (naturally), so I was kaput near the end. Overall, the jury – my thesis advisor and another comparative literature and anthropology professor – thought my research was original, well-done, and well-reasoned; the main critique was on the multiple directions I took (it was indeed difficult to pull together consistently). The “note” (grade) was 14/20, enough for a “mention bien” which is equivalent to our American magna cum laude, or “high honors”. Highest in France is “mention très bien”, the US summa cum laude, to which can also be added “avec les félicitations du jury” (literally, “with the jury’s congratulations”, while a better translation would be “with distinction”), and plain “honors” are “mention assez bien”, the US cum laude.

“Mention bien” is acceptable for a PhD, French doctorat, if I so wish. I would very much like that! However I had a rough time getting my Masters pulled together in a single year while working full time, and the two professors also recommended taking time to think about and prepare for doctoral studies before officially beginning them. In France, a doctorate is required to take 3 years of study/research/thesis writing; a fourth year can be added, but only under highly exceptional circumstances. In order to be able to work on a doctoral thesis properly, I would need to find funding for it. There are some scholarships and PhD funding sources available, so taking time off will allow me to delve into that more.

As I just told a friend elsewhere – it’s a bit like a write your own adventure!

9 responses to “Mémoire soutenu”

  1. Jenny Says:

    Congratulations, Anna ! I admire you for doing your Masters AND working at the same time !

  2. Julie Says:

    Congratulations!! I had NO doubt whatsoever that it would go well. I’m so very happy for you!



  3. Paulette Says:

    Hi Anna,
    Thank you for sharing a little bit of life in Nice. I am currently living in Paris (8 years) but would like to move to Nice. I have begun to search the net for information and found your wonderful blog. Paris weather has been nutty too and it surprised me when I balked for a minute upon reading about the grey days of Nice. Your sunny disposition reminded me that it’s climate change and that there is so much more to living in France than a sunny day. I would comment directly on this entry…we create our lives and miracles everyday. When I read about the bike…I knew then that you were having another Jabaz moment and it thrilled me to see one in action. I am retired in Paris and am ready to head south. Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Barb in Minnesota Says:

    Congratulatons on your Masters. It took me 3 years to do what you did in 1. Give yourself a little break now – you deserve it!
    Barb in Minnesota

  5. N Says:


  6. Thierry Says:

    Congratulations Anna!!! I’ll write a longer e-mail when I have more time (work, work, work at the moment) :)

  7. Marcela Says:

    Congratulations, Anna!! You might be feeling very happy and relaxed at this point, after all the work is done and concluded. I’m also impressed because it is not easy to do all that in short time while carrying a full time job…

  8. Sasho Says:


    Belated but heartfelt congratulations. You are living (and writing) the dream. If a PhD is your desire, I hope you will find the path toward it. Actually, from what I read here, I’m sure you will find the way. Bask in your accomplishment.

  9. Heather W. Says:

    Felicitations, Anna! That’s an amazing accomplishment and I’m glad to hear that you’re taking some well-deserved time off before you forge ahead to a doctorat.

    I hadn’t caught up on my blog reading in a while and was happy to see this news! I finished an academic year of full-time Arabic study a few months ago. It was such a relief to finish, I wasn’t sure what to do with my new-found free time. I recently visited Saudi Arabia and Lebanon where I got to use a little of my Arabic, and in Lebanon, my French, too.

    Congrats again!

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