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Academics

Undergraduate Program

Along with a high level of competence in an important world language, French majors acquire a broad knowledge of one of the world’s most dynamic cultural traditions and its complex relations with other countries around the world. Requirements are flexible enough to allow students to combine the liberal arts and skill-oriented components of their major with other related programs of study, including majors and minors in other fields and certificate programs. An academic-year or semester program in Paris or in Montpellier is recommended for all students interested in French language and culture. Students are also encouraged to pursue double majors.

Prerequisites and Placement Guidelines

The prerequisite to the French and Francophone Studies major is proficiency at the low intermediate level (French 230 or the equivalent). Students with no prior knowledge of French should begin their course of study with French 110 or 126. All others should consult the French Placement Guidelines to determine their initial placement level.

How to Declare the French Major:

All prospective majors should see the Undergraduate Program Director, Prof. Eva Valenta, to declare the major and learn about the options available to them in planning their program.

Requirements for the Major

The major in French and Francophone Studies requires a minimum of 36 credits. A maximum of 6 credits of coursework at the intermediate level (selected from French  240, 246, 250) may be counted in these 36 credits; all others must be in courses at the 300 level or higher. Students must demonstrate proficiency at the intermediate level by achieving a grade of B+ or better in French 240. Students who do not do this must complete French 250.

Majors are required to complete the following courses:

371 Advanced Grammar and Composition I
473 Advanced Grammar and Composition II
384 Themes in French Intellectual and Literary History
386 French History from the Origins to 1945
303 Writing on Language (the Junior Year Writing seminar in French and Francophone Studies; double majors who have completed the JYW seminar in their other major may substitute another French course at the 300 level or higher)

494SI

Senior Seminar (fulfills the Integrative Experience requirement)

Majors must also take at least one course in three of the following areas:

  • Medieval and Renaissance studies
  • 17th/18th-century studies
  • The Revolutionary period through the late 19th century
  • 20th-century studies
  • The Francophone world
  • Contemporary studies

Students complete the major with additional elective courses at the 300 level or above to reach the 36 credit requirement. Note that only one course taught in English at the 300+ level may be counted towards the French major.

The Major with Concentration in Teaching

The major in French and Francophone Studies with a concentration in teaching prepares students to earn a teaching license in French for grades five to twelve. Students interested in this option should apply during the second semester of their sophomore year to the Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) at the UMass College of Education. For further information about the STEP program, please consult the College of Education’s Educator Licensing Office, in particular the program’s admissions policies. Students complete the same major requirements as other French majors, as well as additional courses in education studies. Study abroad in France or another francophone country is strongly advised. The program aims for balanced competence in the fields of French studies and the teaching of foreign languages, culminating in a student teaching practicum during the last semester of the program. Students completing the STEP program receive an Initial License, which allows them to seek employment as a middle- or high-school French teacher. The Initial License is valid for five years, during which students must complete the additional necessary coursework (generally a Master’s degree) to obtain a Professional License. For advising on the French major with concentration in teaching, contact the French teacher licensure coordinator, Prof. Rhonda Tarr.

Other Optional Concentrations

Students are encouraged to develop concentrations and to complete minors and certificate programs in other areas. Each generally requires the completion of additional credits. A great variety of programs is available at UMass Amherst and the Five College system. Among these are the certificates in Journalism, International Relations, African Studies, Film Studies, Medieval Studies and Interpreting Studies, as well as the minor in Modern European Studies.

Requirements for the Minor

The minor in French and Francophone Studies requires a minimum of 15 credits. French 240 (with a grade of B+ or better) or French 250 may count for 3 credits towards the minor. A minimum of 12 credits must be earned at the 300 level or above. These must include French 371 and 473 (Advanced Grammar and Composition I and II), and at a minimum one 300- or 400-level course in literature, intellectual history or culture taught entirely in French.

Career Opportunities

French and Francophone Studies can open the door to a wide variety of career opportunities. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, an organization of 80 member states, estimates that French is the fifth most widely used language in the world, with speakers spread over five continents. It is the third most important business language (after English and Chinese) and the fourth most common language on the internet. Moreover, it is the second most important language in international organizations, serving as an official working language in the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, the International Olympic Committee, and in dozens of other international political, business and cultural organizations across Europe, Africa and the Americas. France, with the sixth largest economy in the world, serves as the primary driver of economic opportunity across the francophone world.

The program is designed to offer a rigorous educational experience focused on critical thinking and analysis not only to students intending to pursue an advanced degree in the field, but also to those interested in careers in fields in which expertise in French is directly relevant or a valuable complement: information technology and artificial intelligence, international environmental policy, government and public service, communications and journalism, research, public health, the hospitality industry, fashion, business and international relations, international trade and economic diplomacy, localization management, translation and interpretation, as well as high-school and community-college teaching or graduate-level study. Students are encouraged to consult the Career Services office to pursue internship possibilities during their course of study and to prepare for a career beyond UMass. We also strongly encourage students to continue enhancing their French language and cultural skills after graduation by participating in the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF), a program in which we have an excellent record of placing students.

Honors

For information on pursuing honors opportunities within the French and Francophone Studies major, contact the program’s honors coordinator, Prof. Emmanuel Buzay .

Restrictions

It is the student's responsibility to check with the French Undergraduate Program Director, Prof. Eva Valenta, in advance of the last semester of the senior year in order to be sure that all program requirements for graduation have been fulfilled.

Courses taken at UMass Amherst or elsewhere on a pass/fail basis are not acceptable for major or minor credit.

At least 12 of the 36 credits required for the major must be taken on the University of Massachusetts' Amherst campus. Under normal circumstances, no more than nine credits received during a study abroad semester may be applied to the major.

The grade of D in a French course or in a related course required for the major is not acceptable and will not be counted toward the number of major credits. These D credits may be made up either by repeating the course or by successfully passing an equivalency exam to be given by the program. This second option is possible only in language courses taken in the senior year.