Major & Certificate

For a complete description and requirements for the Major in French Language and Literature, French Studies, or the degree with honors in French, please Click here.

French Studies

The major in French Studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge embracing the cultural, historical, social, and political heritage of France and the Francophone world. The program allows for an individualized course of study involving work in several departments and the opportunity to study abroad.

Students electing the French Studies major should register with the French Studies faculty advisor during their sophomore year. At that time they should submit a feasibility plan that articulates their projected program.

The French Studies major consists of ten courses satisfying the following requirements:

  • At least two courses in French language and/or literature above the French 103 level
  • A senior seminar
  • Electives: The remaining courses needed to complete the major must be drawn from at least three different departments and relate primarily to an aspect of the culture, history, society, and politics of France and the Francophone world. These courses will be selected in consultation with members of the Department of Romance Languages.

Appropriate electives might include:

  • History 331 The French and Haitian Revolutions
  • Religion 301 Psychology of Religion
  • All courses in French literature and language above the 103 level.

In addition, students should take at least two non-language courses that are taught in French.

French Language and Literature

The French major seeks to provide training in literary and cultural analysis and linguistic expression through the study of selected texts from the French-speaking world. Emphasis is placed on the changes in form and subject matter from the early modern period to the contemporary era.

The major consists of nine courses above the 102 level. One of these courses must be the 400-level capstone seminar during the senior year. Students entering the major program at the 200-level may, with the permission of the Department, choose as part of their major program, one course in Art History, History, Philosophy, Comparative Literature or other subjects that relate to and broaden their study of French. Students entering the major program at a very advanced level may, in some cases and with the permission of the Department, include two such courses in their major program.

Working with the major advisor, the student will formulate a curricular plan that will ensure balance and coherence in courses taken. Such balance and coherence will be based on the above areas of literary and cultural investigation. Prospective majors should discuss their program with the major advisor by the end of their sophomore year. This is especially imperative for students who are planning to spend a part or all of their junior year in France. Inasmuch as all courses in French assume the active participation of each student in discussions conducted in the foreign language, regular attendance at class
meetings is expected.



What is the French Certificate?

The French Certificate is a formal program of study, consisting of 7 courses, taken at Williams and/or during study abroad. Similar to a “French minor” at other institutions, the French Certificate is formally cited on your Williams transcript, right after your major, and can be listed on your resumé. The French Certificate is ideal for those students who may not want to major in French, but who want to devote a significant portion of their studies and time to the study of French and Francophone Cultures.

Why consider a French Certificate?

In our ever more globalized world, the study of foreign languages is essential to cultural understanding and professional success. More and more, employers and graduate schools seek out candidates who can bring excellent communication and language skills to their work. Students who have completed foreign language certificate programs during their undergraduate studies report that their interviewers are impressed with their language skills and cultural proficiency. This is as true for those attending medical, law, and business schools as it is for those pursuing careers in teaching, academia, public service, and international relations.

Who should consider a French Certificate?

If you are passionate about continuing your French studies as a non-major, the French Certificate offers a wonderful possibility to formalize your French studies at Williams. Those majoring in related fields (such as Comparative Literature, History, English, Art History, or Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) may want to add the French Certificate to their literary and linguistic accomplishments. Those majoring in other fields (in Divisions I, II, and III) may want to add the French Certificate to their academic program and their resumés, as a way of engaging more formally in French studies or showing graduate schools and employers an impressive sign of their formal training in French.

What are the requirements for the French Certificate?

The French Certificate consists of a sequence of seven courses for
which you must earn a cumulative average of B or higher. Among the 7 courses required for the French Certificate, at least 3 must be taken at Williams. You can qualify for up to 4 courses from study abroad (for either a semester or entire year), but these courses must be related to language, literature, or culture.

  • For Students with No Prior French Background: The course sequence usually consists of French 101, 102, 103, 104, and 105, and two additional courses in French above the 105 level, with at least one of these courses at the 200-level or higher taken at Williams.
  • For Students Starting at French 103: The course sequence usually consists of French 103, 104, 105, and four additional courses in French above the 105 level, with at least two of these courses at the 200-level or higher, and at least one of these courses at the 300-level or higher.
  • For Students Starting at French 200 and higher: The plan of study will usually consist of 7 courses, of which at least two courses should be at the 300-level or higher. Two electives may be taken in other departments: these courses must focus significantly on French or Francophone culture (art, literature, drama, music, history, political science, etc.).
  • For Study-Abroad Courses: When you complete the “French Certificate Final Application” during your senior year, you may also need to hand in a copy of your Study-Abroad Transcript (the same transcript you submitted to the Registrar and Christina Stoiciu, Director, International Education and Study Away on your return to Williams.)
  • Know Before You Go: While you are studying abroad, you should keep a file-folder of any essential documents from your courses, including: syllabi, course descriptions, grades and transcripts, and any final written work (papers or exams) that you complete.

How and when should I apply for the French Certificate?

  1. Now: Make a plan for completing the 7 required courses (at Williams and/or abroad).
  2. Spring Semester of Senior Year: Complete the “French Certificate Final Application”.

How can I learn more about the French Certificate?

If you have any questions about the French Certificate, email the French Faculty.