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Statement of Purpose

The French Studies major provides liberal arts training that sharpens communicative, analytical and interpretive skills. It is designed to help students appreciate the language, literature and culture of France and the Francophone world. It also aims to form general habits of thought and expression that allow students to interpret complex symbolic systems and gain insights into aesthetic experience. Students learn to use diverse texts as a means for understanding culturally specific as well as universal problems, and they do so in ways that stimulate their curiosity and learning beyond their time at the university.

Curricular Structure

A core set of courses devoted to fundamentals in language, civilization, and literature (18 hours; also the Minor) offers equal instruction across three areas: formative language development in reading, writing, listening, and speaking; a survey of French political, historical, and cultural thought; an introduction to French literature with a sampling of movements and historical periods.

For details on the core curriculum classes, see the requirements page.

Co-Curricular Activities

Various organizations, activities and programs afford an opportunity to reinforce departmental values and interest, as well as provide specific language or cultural training and practice.

Immersive environment: some co-curricular activities help establish and maintain an on-campus French-speaking community, which nourishes the immersive language environment necessary for foreign language study

  • Foreign Language Student Residence

Designed to provide an immersive French-language environment

  • French Writing Lab

Provides assistance to students for improving written expression and reinforces grammatical skills taught in the classroom

  • Internships to France

2-3 mos. in-country work and service opportunities for 10-15 students each spring/summer, coordinated through the French Embassy; placement includes government agencies, non-profit organizations, etc.

  • Study Abroad
    • Paris: 2-month departmental program every year for majors/minors (20-30 students); 4-month Fall-Winter program for General Education is directed by French faculty once/year (20-30 students, mostly non-majors)
    • Other programs have been offered for Quebec and Senegal (three times since 2001, focus on sub-Saharan culture and literature)
  • French Club (3-4 activities per semester, including plays, films, cultural events, etc.)

Active campus club that provides an extracurricular cultural and linguistic environment focusing on awareness of the French-speaking world; regular attendance is 200-300 students/activity

  • International Cinema (2-6 French-language films out of 30 total screened several days/week)

Cultural experience and language immersion through French-language films

Incentives for excellence:

  • Pi Delta Phi (French) Honor Society

Provides incentive to students to perform at their best and participate in a larger French community by recognizing excellence in the discipline

  • Annual Essay Contest (annual, with cash rewards and awards ceremony for 6-9 recipients)

Provides incentive to students to perfect their written expression and share their creativity


  • Teaching, grading, and research assistantships
  • Department Symposia

Regular lectures by invited/guest speakers to stimulate humanistic inquiry and help faculty and students stay abreast of developments in the discipline