BA in French Studies

The major in French Studies encompasses broad and deep study of the language, literature, history, and culture of France and the Francophone world. Small, discussion-based courses conducted in French equip students with advanced knowledge and skills for understanding nuances of the French language and using it effectively in academic, daily, and professional contexts. Emphasis on the study of literature and film develops students’ cultural knowledge and skills for close, analytical reading and interpretive argumentation, through spoken and written engagement with major works, events, periods, and people responsible for shaping the history of France, its global reach, and the remarkable diversity of Francophone experiences and expression from the Middle Ages to the postcolonial present. The major also incorporates foundational knowledge of the field of linguistics, as a basis for analyzing the structure of the French language, its historical development, and variations in usage. Study abroad is strongly encouraged, and many students fulfill requirements for the major at Boston University’s academic and combined academic-internship programs in Grenoble and Paris, as detailed below.

Skills and knowledge gained through the major in French Studies provide an excellent preparation for continuing on to graduate study, as well as sought-after intercultural competence for globally and internationally oriented careers in education, international development, government, journalism, law, communications, business, health professions, and scientific fields.


All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in French Studies will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic and Historical Interpretation, as well as some requirements in Communication, Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship and the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses.

Twelve 4-credit courses with a grade of C or higher are required. Students entering with advanced standing in French must complete a minimum of six principal courses in French at Boston University. Students participating in a Boston University program in France must complete a minimum of four principal courses in French on the Boston campus; two of these four courses must be taken at the 400 level or above following study abroad. Internships taken on study abroad programs may not be credited toward a major in French.

Four Foundation Courses

  • One advanced language course: CAS LF 303, 304, 305, or 306 (cannot be fulfilled by AP score)
  • Introduction to French literature (2 courses)
    • CAS LF 350 Introduction to Analysis of French Texts (poetry, theatre, essay, short fiction)
    • CAS LF 351 Introduction to the French Novel
  • CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics

Four CAS LF Literature Courses (400/500 levels)

  • At least one course focused on a period before 1800 (CAS LF 451, 453, 457, 550, 553, 555, 560, 562, 563, 564, 565, 575)
  • At least one course focused on a period after 1800 (CAS LF 455, 456, 460, 469, 551, 554, 556, 558, 569, 570, 571, 590)
  • Two additional CAS LF literature courses at the 400–500 level

Four Electives

With at most one elective taught in English, chosen in consultation with the advisor from the following:

  • LF courses in language, literature, film, linguistics, and civilization (one of these courses may be at the 300 level; all others must be at or above the 400 level)
  • LX courses in general linguistics
  • Related humanities and social science courses chosen, with advisor’s approval, from areas including comparative literature, history, history of art & architecture, international relations, music, and philosophy (CAS CC 101/102 together count as one course toward this requirement)

Study Abroad Opportunities

Students may take courses to fulfill their language requirement or courses toward a French major or minor, or toward the joint major in French & Linguistics, in the Boston University Study Abroad and Internship Programs in Grenoble and Paris. In Grenoble, students enroll in intensive language courses and in university courses covering a broad curriculum. Also in Grenoble, first-semester sophomores pursuing a pre-health curriculum can combine a science course taught in English with a French course appropriate to their (beginning, intermediate, advanced) level. The BU center in Paris offers the Paris Internship Program, running throughout the year.

Opportunities to take courses abroad taught in French are also available in BU’s program in Geneva, and through exchange programs in Paris in the fields of management and political science. Additional information on these programs is available in the Study Abroad and Internship Programs portion of this Bulletin. Students should consult with a faculty advisor to determine which Study Abroad courses may fulfill major and minor requirements.

Placement Examination

A placement test is required of all students whose most recent course in French was taken in high school or at a college other than Boston University and who wish to continue their study of this language here. Information regarding online placement exams is available in the department or on the departmental website.