French Program


The French division of the department offers a complete language program which includes elementary, intermediate and advanced language, conversation, composition, business French, phonetics, as well as courses designed to provide graduate students from other departments with reading knowledge of French.

In addition, every year it offers several courses per term given entirely in English, all of which have general education credit. A full complement of upper-level courses in literature, film, linguistics, and culture is also offered each year.

Beyond the classroom, the French program offers students exciting opportunities in internships; directed and independent research experiences; an active French Club, and a French Honor SocietyPi Delta Phi. We also sponsor an annual paper prize for a French major. 

The Undergraduate Program in French & Francophone Studies: A Curriculum for the Mid-21st Century

The French major and minors allow students to encounter the cultures, literature, and film of the Francophone world through a broad selection of coursework.

  • We offer a trio of courses to be taken after French 104 that focus on language skills in cultural context (French Conversation; Reading French: Literature, Media, Culture; Writing French) and serve to prepare students for 1000-level courses: "Reading French" considers print literature in relation to other non-literary media like video games, graphic novel, film, TV, and e-books (in short, what does it mean to read in the digital age?). "Writing French" helps you write in practical ways (as in let's write our resume in French).
  • French 0220/0020, 'France in the 21st Century' is the course for you if you want to study current events and society in the Hexagon (and get answers to questions like: who are those gilets jaunes and what do they want?).
  • French 0227/0027, The French Atlantic, offers the chance to think about how France related to other parts of the world, especially the Antilles and North America, in historical context (recall that Pittsburgh used to be a French-speaking city). Students study historical documents like maps to better understand history and thus the Francophone world today. 
  • Other courses, offered both in French and in translation, explore specific issues (for example, Francophone identities, Francophone narrative, the French nation, gender & sexuality in France today, French in a global context).
  • Advanced course in linguistics allow you to build on intermediate-level courses (Advanced Grammar and Stylistics, Phonetics, Varieties of French).
  • Our program offers you the chance to be creative in French: we are offering a French Theatre workshop in spring 2021 (with a play to be performed all in French, but updated for the 21st century) and then a new course "Creative Writing Workshop" offered in fall term.
  • There are gen ed courses in English on Paris (Urbanism Past and Present) and on Fashion (Eurochic: The Invention of Fashion) offered in academic year 2020-21, alongside the very popular courses "French Kiss" and "History of French Cinema." "Modern French Novel" is for you if you want to see what's going on today in French literature (a "W" course for non-French-majors).
  • "Gender, Sexuality, and French Thought" gives you to chance to think about how gender/sexuality studies and French studies relate to each other (trust us, they are closely linked). This course carries gen ed philosophy credit (and geographical region and diversity). An upper-level course on France and environmental studies is coming in spring term 2021 (Green France), and a course on the literature of climate change is in the works for 2021-2022.
  • A new gen ed course "Kings & Queens: From Vikings to Guillotines" will run in spring 2021 (think Madonna meets Marie Antoinette). 
  • At the advanced/1000-level, we regularly offer "Global French" as well as a new advanced course in French on the nation "L'Idée de la France" (and the French nationality room will be on the syllabus, as will a student podcast). Undergraduate research and close faculty mentoring are embedded in these courses. Both courses satisfy the writing-intensive requirement ("W" courses). 

Language, media, environmentalism, globalization, nation, urbanism, race, gender, sexuality, history, creativity. For us, this is a French curriculum for the mid-21st century.

Double majors in French and a second field (such as political science, economics, business, art history, communication, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, GSWS, or another foreign language) allow students to explore interdisciplinary interests that help to focus and personalize their program of study. French is an excellent complement to majors in science or computer science/information as well. Employers in many areas appreciate competency in other cultures and language proficiency beyond English. A French major is an excellent way to show that you have a global perspective since French is so widely spoken around the world. 

Honors in French

To earn departmental honors in French, students must demonstrate superior performance in departmental courses, and be enrolled in 1000-level French courses, preferably no later than the first term of their junior year. Selection of honors candidates takes place in the second term of students’ junior year. To qualify for departmental honors, students must complete and present a research paper. Work on this project customarily takes place over three terms, as follows:

  • During the summer before the senior year, students choose an appropriate topic with their faculty advisor and begin independent preparatory work, which will lead to the writing of a rough draft.
  • In the fall term of their senior year, students continue researching and begin writing their paper. This work must be done in close consultation with their faculty advisor.
  • In the spring term, students finish writing the paper and present the thesis before a faculty committee of three people (at least two of whom must have primary or secondary appointments in the Dept. of French & Italian at Pitt main campus). 

Honors will be determined by the quality of the paper and the presentation, as well as the cumulative grades in all departmental courses counting toward the major. The presentation will be done in French.

New for Fall 2020: La Parlotte 

Thursdays, 4-5pm. Hosted by PhD student Pat Nikiema. Come speak French in a relaxed and informal way on Zoom. Chat with other French students, French faculty and PhD students en français. All levels welcome! In the future, we will move back to the Posvar Global hub (main floor of Posvar Hall).

Study Abroad

All majors are also highly encouraged to spend a year or a semester in a Francophone country.  In addition to the department’s highly successful language, literature and culture program in Nantes, a new professional skills program in Paris, launched in 2016, provides students the opportunity to cultivate readily transferrable language skills to the workplace. Many students have taken the opportunity to earn credits toward the major or minor and improve their language skills while experiencing firsthand the life and culture of France. 

In just these last few years, dozens of students have taken the opportunity to earn credits toward the major and improve their language skills while experiencing firsthand the life and culture of the French-speaking world.

Financial Support for Study Abroad

The Study Abroad Scholarship Fund, the Nationality Rooms Scholarships, and French and Italian Departmental scholarships support summer study abroad, and students may apply to a number of other sources for financial support.

After Graduation: TAPIF Program in France

After graduating, several French majors each year are funded through the TAPIF program in France. Students from our department have a high rate of acceptance, and we will help you write a competitive application and secure letters of recommendation. A year in France can help solidify your French and prepare you for later work.