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 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 competence, communication, and research skills. Students graduate with the capacity 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. Study abroad is strongly encouraged, and many students fulfill requirements for the major at Boston University’s academic and combined academic-internship programs in Geneva 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.

Learning Outcomes

  • Proficiency in speaking, reading, writing, and the understanding of spoken French, at the advanced-low level as measured by ACTFL guidelines, and the ability to use these skills in a range of academic and everyday situations.
  • Advanced knowledge of French and Francophone literature and film, in several genres, with attention to its historical or cultural context.
  • The capacity to read critically and closely, to interpret texts, and to evaluate arguments about literary and cultural texts and topics.
  • The ability to formulate an organized, well-supported argument in writing; to write clearly and persuasively; and to observe ethical and precise citation practices.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular 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.

Four Foundation Courses

  • Two advanced language courses numbered CAS LF 301–349 taught in French on the BU Charles River Campus or via a BU Study Abroad program.
  • One course from the paired sequence CAS LF 350 Introduction to Analysis of French Texts (poetry, theatre, essay, short fiction) or CAS LF 351 Introduction to the French Novel.
  • The other course in the paired sequence CAS LF 350–351, or one additional advanced CAS LF language course numbered between 301–349 conducted in French, or an internship with a clearly demonstrable relation to the Francophone world.

Six Advanced CAS LF Literature Courses (400/500 levels)

  • Six courses numbered CAS LF 400 and/or above taught by professorial rank faculty or invited faculty with primary appointments in the Romance Studies Department.
  • Courses taught by professorial rank faculty or invited faculty with primary appointments in French that carry course codes other than LF (e.g., KHC, IR, CC, etc.) may be applied.
  • Courses conducted in English may be applied.
  • At least one course should be focused on a period before 1800 and one on a period after 1800, as determined by the course description or syllabus of a specific semester’s offering.

Two Electives

Any two courses with a clearly demonstrable relation to the French or Francophone world, including, for example:

  • LX courses in general linguistics.
  • Related humanities and social science courses chosen from areas including comparative literature, history, history of art & architecture, international relations, music, philosophy, or the Core Curriculum (CAS CC 101/102 together count as one course toward this requirement).
  • Courses taught on BU Study Abroad campuses in France or another Francophone country or taken through direct enrollment in a Francophone university.

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 Paris. The BU center in Paris offers the Paris Internship Program, running throughout the year, as well as a study abroad program during the summer.

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.