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Photo by French major Yasmine Abushukur.

The French and Francophone Studies major focuses on mastery of the language, understanding of French cultures, familiarization with the most important figures of French literature, and critical awareness of the intellectual problems and possibilities involved in the study of other cultures.

If you are majoring in another field, the French and Francophone Studies minor offers you an opportunity to complement the knowledge gained in your principal field, while adding a cultural and linguistic dimension to your academic experience.

French Honors major. For information on French Honors requirements, please proceed to the French Honors page.

Why Study French?

  • French is one of the world's major international languages: it is spoken by over 200 million people in 43 countries, on five continents. Knowing French increases your chances of communicating in a non-English-speaking country.
  • The prestige of French art, music, dance, fashion, cuisine, and cinema makes French a culturally important foreign language. France is one of the most prolific producers of international films. When you understand French, you don't have to rely on subtitles to enjoy a French film.
  • French literature is one of the richest and most influential of the modern European world, featuring authors such as Rabelais, Montaigne, Racine, Proust, and Marguerite Duras. Several well-known philosophers were also French, including Descartes, Pascal, Rousseau, Voltaire, Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir. These authors' works are far more appreciated when read in the original language.
  • There is currently great interest in the literature and culture of many Francophone countries and regions, especially in Africa and the Caribbean. French-language authors from outside France such as Patrick Chamoiseau, Maryse Condé, and Tahar Ben Jelloun now have international followings.
  • Approximately 45% of English vocabulary comes from French. As you learn French, you also enhance your grammar and vocabulary skills in English.
  • A knowledge of French can open doors to graduate school, important research, and careers in the fields of medicine, the environment, business, engineering, and science and technology. American companies well established in France include: IBM, Microsoft, Mattel, Dow Chemical, Sara Lee, Ford, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Motorola, Steelcase, and Johnson & Johnson.
  • The RLL department has specialists in literature, art, film studies and cultural studies; and study-abroad programs in France, Quebec, Senegal and Switzerland offer students the opportunity to improve language skills and cultural understanding in a range of environments.

Course Information

Course Offerings

For a list of the French and Francophone Studies courses offered in recent semesters, visit the LSA Undergraduate Course Catalog. For information on currently offered French and Francophone Studies courses, visit the LSA Course Guide.

Independent Studies


RLL Course Information and Highlighted Courses

Course Numbering System

In most LSA departments, courses that introduce the methods and basic concepts of the discipline are numbered at the 100 or 200 level; the 300 level consists of advanced undergraduate courses; and the 400 level has more advanced courses that are suitable for both undergraduates near the end of their major and for beginning graduate students.

In language departments, however, introductory courses in literature and culture, and even third-year language courses, are often numbered at the 300 level simply because they have second-year language courses as a prerequisite. The numbering system in French and Francophone Studies is more like that of non-language departments in the College. For example:

  • 235-299 are introductory courses in language, culture, and literature, and are appropriate for first- and second-year students
  • 300-level courses are upper-division undergraduate offerings, and are not open to graduate students
  • 400-level courses are intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students together.

Non-UM Study Abroad and Domestic Transfer Credit

Review and follow this checklist which outlines the proposal process for non-UM study abroad and domestic transfer credit.

Please note: students are required to have coursework pre-evaluated by an RLL faculty advisor prior to enrolling or going abroad; syllabi and specific course descriptions are needed.  A final evaluation of coursework is required upon completion of the course or upon return from abroad. Specific courses and credits must appear on the transcript; syllabi and completed coursework are needed. 

For information regarding earning credit for UM/CGIS study abroad programs, please reference the RLL Study Abroad page page. 

Teacher Certification

Students who are interested in learning more about pursuing Teacher Education should contact Dr. Maria Coolican. For further information about teacher certification options in the School of Education, please review their Educator Preparation Program website. To review the specific courses that are required for the various teaching majors, please see the Teaching Major and Minor Requirements.