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

    Starting with the class of 2023

    Majors must acquire fluency in the French language, both written and oral.  Taking 212 or 260, or their equivalent when studying abroad, could help them to do so.

    • FREN 005–102 or 005–105; or FREN 101–102 or 101–105 (2 credits)
    • 200-level sequence: three courses, two of which (maximum) may be taken outside the department, and the Junior Seminar (JSEM). Courses taken outside the department should contribute to your independent program of study and have to be preapproved by your major advisor and entered in your major work plan. JSEM is offered each semester (4 credits)
    • 300-level sequence: two courses, one of which may be taken outside the department, pending pre-approval of your major advisor (2 credits)
    • Senior Experience: it consists of a thesis development workshop (Senior Seminar = FREN H398) in the fall semester and either a Senior Thesis (FREN H399) or a third 300-level course culminating in the Senior Essay during the spring semester. In either case, the work of the spring semester is capped by an oral defense (for details see The Senior Project section; 2 credits).

    Senior Project

    After taking Senior Conference in semester I of the senior year, students have the choice in semester II of writing a thesis in French (40-50 pp.) under the direction of a faculty member or taking a 300-level course in which they write a Senior Essay in French (15-25 pp.) The first choice offers self-selected students who already have developed a clearly defined subject in semester I the opportunity to pursue independent research and writing of the thesis with a faculty advisor. The second choice allows students, often double majors with another thesis, the opportunity to produce a substantial, but shorter, piece of work within the structure of their 300-level course in semester II.

    Ideally, students willing to write a Senior Thesis define their subject, identify their advisors and start discussing the project with them by the end of the Junior Seminar. Discussion continues in the fall of senior year with the expectation that the student submit a thesis proposal in the context of the Senior Seminar. Depending on the transdisciplinary nature of the subject, the student may be advised to select a second reader in another department. The choice of the language (French or English) is made in consultation with the primary thesis advisor.

    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.

    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.

    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 (2 credits).
    • Four courses at the 200 and 300 levels. At least one course must be at the 300 level (4 credits).

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.

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