Undergraduate studies: French and Francophone Studies

The undergraduate major and concentration in French and Francophone Studies gives students an overview of the literature and history of the French and francophone world from the Middle Ages to the present. Students explore the history and contemporary applications of concepts such as citizenship, national unity, secularism, and human rights, and explore central issues including universalism/relativism, tradition/modernity, and religion/state as they have developed in France and its colonies/former colonies. They take a series of required courses that includes Advanced Grammar and Composition (essential to achieving proficiency in the French language), Introduction to French and Francophone History and Introduction to French and Francophone Literature (surveys of French and francophone history and literature from the Middle Ages to the present), and the Senior Seminar (which explores a different theme each year from both literary and historical angles). Students also take advanced electives on any aspect of French or francophone literature, culture, or history.

The optional senior essay, written under the guidance of a faculty member at Columbia or during a student’s semester abroad, provides an initiation to scholarly research. It is a requirement to be eligible for departmental honors.

Because a direct experience of contemporary French society is an essential part of the program, students are strongly encouraged to spend either a semester or a year at Reid Hall-Columbia University in Paris, where they can take courses that will be credited toward the French major as well as to other majors including Political Sciences, History or Art History. Qualified students may also take courses directly in the French university system.

Please examine the Majors/Concentrators’ Worksheet (French & Francophone Studies) for a breakdown of course requirements. (Students in the classes of 2023 and 2024 are allowed to complete the old requirements if they wish, outlined in these worksheets (FFS worksheet and FLL worksheet).

The department offers SEAS students the possibility of a 15-point minor in French & Francophone Studies with the following requirements:

FREN UN3409 Introduction to French and Francophone History

FREN UN3410 Introduction to French and Francophone Literature

3 additional 3000- or 4000-level courses in French and francophone literature or culture.

For further details, please visit the Columbia College web site or the School of General Studies.