Programs: Majors & Minor

Courses in the French Department have a twofold objective: to perfect fluency in the written and spoken language, and to develop an understanding and appreciation of the literature and culture of France and French-speaking countries.


Policy on No Exemption from General Education Requirements through Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate Credits

(Students Entering Fall 2016)

Students entering Barnard in Fall 2016 and thereafter will receive points of credit for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) credit, but these credits will not exempy students from General Education Requirements. Further information may be found on the Registrar's website:


Placement in Courses and the Language Requirement

(Students enrolled Prior to Fall 2016)

New students who have already given evidence of advanced training in French (Advanced Placement Examination with a score of 4 or 5; CEEB examinations with a score of 781 or higher) are automatically exempt from the language requirement. All other new students who intend to satisfy their requirement in French will, depending upon their preparation, be placed immediately in the appropriate language course or be asked to take a placement test offered at the start of each semester.

Those receiving a sufficiently high grade fulfill the requirement. The others may do so by completing French BC 1204. For additional information about language courses, students should consult the department chair.

Students who have satisfied the language requirement may immediately enroll in advanced language courses (FREN BC3006 - BC3019) or literature and culture courses (FREN BC3021, FREN BC3022, FREN BC3023, FREN BC3024).




There are three majors available to prospective students in the department.

Eleven courses are required for each specific major:


Language and Literature: This program emphasizes the language, culture, and literature of France and other French-speaking countries.

  • Three language courses, chosen from FREN BC3006 - FREN BC3019
  • One of the following sequences: FREN BC3021 and FREN BC3022; or FREN UN3420 and FREN UN3421
  • Two courses, chosen from FREN BC3025 - FREN BC3036
  • Three courses, chosen from FREN BC3037 - FREN BC3110
  • One-term Senior Thesis FREN BC3091


Translation and Literature: This program teaches students to translate from French into English and English into French, within a context of French culture and literature.

  • Four language courses, chosen from FREN BC3006 - FREN BC3019
  • One of the following sequences: FREN BC3021 and FREN BC3022; or FREN UN3420 and FREN UN3421
  • Four literature courses, chosen from FREN BC3025 - FREN BC3110
  • One-term Senior Thesis FREN BC3091
  • Students majoring in Translation and Literature are strongly encouraged to take Professor Connor's CPLT BC3110 Introduction to Translation Studies as well as FREN BC3014 Advanced Translation.


French and Francophone Studies: This program emphasizes the historical and contemporary interrelationship between France and the French-speaking world in their social, literary, and cultural aspects.

  • FREN UN3420 and FREN UN3421
  • Two language courses, chosen from FREN BC3006 - FREN BC3019
  • Four courses selected from FREN BC3028 - FREN BC3110 (of which at least two must come from FREN BC3070 - FREN BC3078)
  • Two courses selected from other departments at BC or CU pertaining to the major and chosen in consultation with the adviser
  • One-term Senior Thesis FREN BC3091


Declaring an Option

The student is expected to declare her option by the end of the junior year. Programs may include additional courses in French literature, culture, and language, or in other subjects which may vary with the interest of the student. Certain courses in the French and Romance Philology Department at Columbia University may be substituted with the approval of the Chair. A student who elects French as part of a combined double or interdisciplinary major will establish her individualized program with the departments concerned. All combined or interdisciplinary majors require approval from the Committee on Petitions and Academic Standing.


Senior Experience

Barnard College has a long-standing commitment to preparing students in the major so that they may undertake a capstone project. All Barnard seniors are required to complete a senior project or thesis. Senior projects or theses represent the culmination of academic work in the major. They allow students to develop records of individual research that include theoretical engagement in the major discipline, the development of creative projects or research, and original empirical and interpretative analysis. The form of the senior requirement may vary across majors, but the most common forms are the senior thesis (one or two semesters), supervised original research in a lab, a final creative project, and/or research that has been completed within a dedicated senior seminar. 

Every year during the spring break, a group of senior French majors, accompanied by Professor Laurie Postlewate, enjoyed a five-day excursion to Paris, sponsored by the Renée Geen Foundation. Their activities included three theater outings, three museum visits, a cocktail reception with the Barnard Paris Alumnae Association at Reid Hall, and numerous promenades around the beautiful city of lights. The trip together gave Barnard's graduating French majors the opportunity to share some memorable moments and it was a wonderful experience for all.

» see photos of the trip




Seven courses are required for the minor:

  • FREN BC3021 and FREN BC3022; or FREN UN3420 and FREN UN3421
  • Two language courses, chosen from FREN BC3006 - FREN BC3019
  • Three courses chosen from FREN BC3025 - FREN BC3110