French and Francophone Studies Major and Minor

Our students engage in a rigorous study of French language and the culture of France and Francophone countries. We offer classes that cover all levels of French language, a broad range of time periods, and France as well as French-speaking countries all over the world.

The program draws students with varied academic interests—from French literature, to particular Francophone countries, to interdisciplinary topics that encompass other fields.

Curriculum & Courses

Our demanding language program embraces the full range of communication skills—speaking, listening, reading, and writing—in French. All majors also build a strong foundation in literature and culture through classes that explore literary and cultural analysis, written and cinematic works, contemporary society, and more.

Majors organize the rest of their studies around one of two tracks. Our French and Francophone Literature track requires majors to take intermediate- and advanced-level French and Francophone literature courses. They must also complete our senior research seminar and produce a high-level piece of written work as a senior.

Students who want to combine French and Francophone studies with one or more other disciplines pursue our Interdisciplinary Studies in French track. Majors in this track must be able to articulate their hybrid academic goals and assemble a course of study that enables them to reach those goals. The program entails intermediate- and advanced-level courses from outside the department and a thesis in French or English.

  • Major Requirements

    Majors may choose a concentration in French and Francophone literature or interdisciplinary studies in French. Majors must acquire fluency in the French language, both written and oral. All majors must take FREN 212 or 260, or their equivalent, unless specifically exempted by the department. 

    French and Francophone Literature

    • FREN 005–102 or 005–105; or FREN 101–102 or 101–105.
    • FREN 212 or 260 (you may not take both).
    • FREN 213 (Approches théoriques/Theory in Practice).
    • Three semesters of 200-level literature courses.
    • Two semesters of 300-level literature courses.
    • The two-semester Senior Experience, comprised of:
      • Senior Conference in the fall semester.
      • In the spring semester, either a senior essay, written in the context of a third 300-level course, or a senior thesis. Both the senior thesis and essay include a final oral defense. (For details, see The Senior Project section.)

    Interdisciplinary Studies in French 

    • FREN 005–102 or FREN 005–105; or FREN 101–102 or FREN 101–105.
    • FREN 212 or 260 (you may not take both).
    • Two 200-level courses within the French departments: e.g., FREN 255, 291, or 299.
    • Two 200-level courses chosen by the student outside the French departments (at Haverford/Bryn Mawr or Junior Year Abroad) that contribute coherently to his/her independent program of study.
    • FREN 325 or 326 (Etudes avancées de civilisation).
    • Two 300-level courses outside the French departments.
    • A thesis of one semester in French or English. (For details, see The Senior Project section.) Students interested in this option must present the rationale and the projected content of their program for departmental approval during their sophomore year; they should have strong records in French and the other subjects involved in their proposed program.

    Senior Project

    The Department of French and Francophone Studies offers two tracks in the major: the French and Francophone Literature track and the Interdisciplinary Studies in French track.

    Literature Track

    In the fall semester of the senior year, students majoring in the literature track take FREN 398. Senior Conference usually focuses on three texts, one theoretical and two primary texts. Particular attention is paid to research techniques, the assembling of a bibliography, and the types of resources and critical perspectives that constitute and legitimate an advanced research project.

    After taking Senior Conference students have two options for the spring semester: they may write a thesis (30-40 pages) under the direction of a faculty member, or they may write an essay (15-20 pages) in the context of a 300-level course. The first option allows students who have already developed a clearly defined subject in the fall semester to pursue independent research and the writing of a thesis with a faculty supervisor.

    The second option offers students the opportunity to produce a substantial, but shorter, piece of research within the structure of their 300-level course in the spring semester. Those writing a senior essay do all the readings assigned in the course plus additional readings (identified during research and specifically attached to the individual project). They do not complete the regular written assignments for the course. Instead, the final 15-20 page paper constitutes the writing portion of the grade for the course, as well as the senior project. In order to move research along, students are expected to have done all the assigned reading for the course by spring break.

    Interdisciplinary Track

    Students working in the interdisciplinary track are exempt from taking the Senior Conference but may find it useful to do so to help with the writing process of the mandatory spring semester thesis. In this track the student generally combines a discipline from outside of French with an issue relevant to the French or Francophone world. The thesis, which can be written in English or French, is followed by an oral exam.

    The thesis advisors are from

    1. French and
    2. from the other discipline chosen.

    Ideally, the student chooses their subject in the second semester of junior year, identifies their advisors and starts discussing the project with them. Discussion continues in the fall of senior year with the expectation that the student submit a thesis proposal by the end of the term. Students in this track follow a similar timeline as the ones in the literature track.

    Senior Project Learning Goals

    At the end of their career at Haverford, we expect our students to have achieved an extensive appreciation of French and Francophone literatures and cultures as well as an advanced level of linguistic and cultural fluency in French. We also require that they demonstrate the capacity to analyze a text and critically engage it in a sustained fashion, formulate an argument and present it intelligibly in both oral and written form. Whether writing a thesis or a senior paper they must show that they can conduct research efficiently.

    Senior Project Assessment

    Both Senior Thesis and Senior Essay include a final oral defense lasting thirty minutes. At this time, the student is expected to speak with authority about the research, the writing process, and some of the intellectual ramifications of the work accomplished.

    Students receive a single grade for the Senior Project. The grade for both options is calculated according to the following formula: FREN 398 (40%)+spring 300-level course or spring thesis +oral defense (60%). Assessment of students’ work in FREN 398 (fall semester) is the sole responsibility of the instructor whereas students’ spring work (thesis or essay) is assessed by the first and second readers.

    Requirements for Honors

    Students with a GPA of 3.7 or above are usually recommended for departmental honors.

  • Minor Requirements

    • FREN 005–102 or 005–105; or FREN 101–102 or 101–105.
    • FREN 212 or 260 (you may not take both).
    • Four courses at the 200 and 300 levels. At least one course must be at the 300 level.

Research & Outreach

All seniors produce a piece of original research. Specific requirements depend on the track each major pursues. Interdisciplinary majors can opt to take Senior Conference but are not required. In the spring semester they write a thesis—in French or English—on the interdisciplinary topic they have investigated.

After Graduation

Our graduates have developed a facility with the French language as well as a nuanced understanding of the culture of France and Francophone countries. Prepared to enter graduate programs in French or related areas, they are also equipped to enter a range of careers in which they will be well-served by their bilingual and bicultural backgrounds as well as their strong analytical and communication skills.

Keep Exploring

More Programs

Check out our other academic offerings:

Get in Touch

Join the Mailing List or search for events in your area.

You can find detailed instructions and information on the Application Instructions page. If you need to contact us directly, please send an email to

Contact Us