Do you want to speak French fluently? Do you find French literature, films, history or culture fascinating? Do you already have a background in French from high school and want to continue to grow your skills? If so the French Major might be the right program of study for you.
The French B.A. is one of two degrees offered by the Department of French and Italian, which is part of the College of Arts and Sciences and affiliated with the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. The French faculty has expertise in a wide variety of research areas and interests, ranging from cultural studies to linguistics.
The French B.A. degree allows students to explore the French language and French culture through a variety of courses covering literature, linguistics, culture, and history. Flexibility in upper-level course work encourages you to focus on specific interest areas.
Students gain the skills and knowledge needed to think and talk in depth about France and French culture in an interdisciplinary context. The majority of French B.A. students spend at least one semester studying abroad to help round out their French education.
The Department of French and Italian also offers an Italian major and minors in French and Italian, as well as a Certificate in Global French. Check your bulletin to learn more about these options.
If you haven’t had any French language study experience, you will begin with the 100-level language course. There also are also options to take accelerated first- and second-year French courses.
You start earning credit towards the French major once you begin 200-level French coursework. Students with previous French experience take a placement test before new student orientation to determine which course level they should take during their first semester.
Tracks and concentrations
The French B.A. degree has no official concentrations, allowing you to customize your upper-level course selections to fit your interests.
Upper-level courses include topics in French and Francophone literature, civilization, cinema, media studies, contemporary culture, advanced grammar, and linguistics. You are encouraged to try at least one class in each of these areas to help you choose how to direct your studies.
Upper level coursework
All French majors are required to take FRIT-F 300: French and Francophone Studies: Introduction and FRIT-F 313: Advanced Grammar. You should take these classes after completing the 200-level requirements of FRIT-F 200 and FRIT-F 250.
The remaining upper level coursework is selected based on your interests and skill level. Upper level course hours are often earned while studying abroad.
Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates
Your major represents about one-quarter of your degree requirements. Students pursuing the French B.A. degree often complete a second major or additional minor during their time at IU. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interests with additional majors, minor or certificates.
Common second majors for French students include Linguistics, English, Spanish and Portuguese, International Studies, Media, Cognitive Science and Italian.
Frequently completed minors include English, Linguistics, Spanish, History, Political Science, Anthropology, Fashion Design, Slavic & East European Languages and Cultures, African Languages and International Studies.
- Enhance your major
Working with faculty
When pursuing a degree in French, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.
You can get involved in research as early as your freshman year. Many incoming freshmen apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker.
Students have the opportunity to earn honors in the French department. To be eligible. you must have an overall GPA of a 3.3, and a French GPA of 3.5. Honors students work closely with the French program Director of Undergraduate Studies as well as with a faculty mentor, taking FRIT-F 499 Readings in French Honors.
High achieving students may also be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College. The Department of French and Italian also has a chapter of Pi Delta Phi, the National French Honors Society, which you may be eligible to join.
For more information, contact the academic advisor and the French Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Undergraduate scholarships and awards
Options for pursuing scholarships and awards related to French include:
- Cindy Simon Skjodt Study abroad Scholarship
- Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) Fellowship
- Palmer-Brandon Prize in the Humanities
- College of Arts & Sciences Scholarships
- Office of Overseas Study Scholarships
- Hutton International Experiences Program
Students are encouraged to visit the Office of Scholarship websites for more scholarship options. Members of Pi Delta Phi, the French National Honors Society, have additional scholarship opportunities.
Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.
Internship programs in Paris and Rennes offer an overseas experience to French students.
Many students find local internships, including at the following organizations:
- Mathers Museum of World Culture
- Indiana University Archives
- Indiana University Press
- Eli Lilly and Company
- Indiana General Assembly
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.
Foreign language study
To practice language skills outside the classroom, students should consider joining one or both of the two French Conversation Clubs.
French B.A. students often enjoy studying foreign languages so much that it is not uncommon for them to minor in a second language. As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.
Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.
- Arabic Flagship Program
- Center for Language Technology
- Chinese Flagship Program
- Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
- IU Language Workshop
- Language Tables
- Project GO
- Russian Flagship Program
Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. French students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following exchange programs:
- Aix-en-Provence - academic year or spring semester program
- Paris - IES semester program
- Rennes - CIEE program
- Paris - IES summer program
The College of Arts and Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. The ASPIRE Exchange Program at Sorbonne University can be a rewarding opportunity for advanced French students. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with French faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.
Students groups offer many opportunities for you to meet new friends, build academic and professional connects, and connect your academic efforts to your social life. Students typically join the French Conversation Club. The campus also has a chapter of Pi Delta Phi, which you may be eligible to join. The Office of International Services offers conversation clubs, conversation partners, and many other resources for students.
The Global Living-Learning Community is one of several Living Learning Centers on campus. It gives motivated undergraduates a chance to integrate formal and informal residential learning with their international interests, regardless of academic discipline or major.
Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.
There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to your surrounding community while developing useful employment skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond.
- Bridges: Children, Languages, World
- Habitat for Humanity
- IU Corps
- Lotus Education and Arts Foundation
- Middle Way House
- Monroe County Public Library
- Shalom Community Center
- Student Involvement and Leadership Center
Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.
You can make professional contacts through the national Modern Language Association and the American Association of Teachers of French.Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.
- Build your skills
Through the major
The major in French provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:
- Language competence: effectively communicating in French on a wide range of subjects, using appropriate verbal tenses, moods and formal or informal style
- Regional and International expertise: a deep cultural competence about French culture, history, literature, politics and education, as well as knowledge about other Francophone regions outside of France
- Methods of analysis: ability to critically think, discuss and examine foreign texts and other media sources in their original language
- Research synthesis: the skill to develop strong evidence-based arguments, assess the strengths of the analyses of others, and defend your own position
- Communication: the ability to communicate knowledge--facts, concepts, arguments--about France and the French world with experts and non-specialists, through writing and oral communication
Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree
Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:
- Question critically
- Think logically
- Communicate clearly
- Act creatively
- Live ethically
These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.
Skills desired by employers
Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.
The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to work in a team
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Strong work ethic
- Analytical and quantitative skills
- Ability to take Initiative
- Being detail oriented
- Demonstrating adaptability
- Technical skills relevant to the field
- Interpersonal skills
- Computer skills
- Organizational Ability
As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.
Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.
- Launch your career
Plan your search
A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach.
The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.
Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.
Maximize your career preparation with a career course. French majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Arts and Humanities provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!
The job market
The employment outlook for French majors is generally quite positive, offering a wide range of opportunities depending on your interests. Because the French language is spoken in many parts of the world, including much of Africa, Canada, parts of Europe, and island groups across the oceans, a command of the language holds economic and political power. The UN Security Council includes France as one of its permanent members, and French is one of the official languages of the United Nations.
Students completing a major in French have a deep understanding of not only the language, but the history, religion, art, literature, politics, and economics of specific Francophone cultures, allowing them to make analogies, respect cultural preferences, and organize detailed information.
French majors develop a global perspective that allows them to be creative as well as adept in reading, writing, listening and practicing logical thinking skills. Using your French language skills to communicate and adjust to new environments allows you to bridge differences in many international contexts.
French B.A. majors take their education in many directions, whether moving directly into a career or going on to graduate or professional studies.
Initial and long-term destinations include positions in many job sectors: arts and entertainment, journalism, federal and state government, industry and commerce, non-governmental organizations, non-profits, cooperatives, education, travel and tourism, interpretation and translation, medicine, law, international business, diplomacy, public relations, and telecommunications.
French B.A. majors can hold many positions in language, culture, and business enterprises, becoming linguistic annotators, sales and event coordinators, community outreach developers, international market consultants, administrators and managers, English as a Second Language teachers, international teachers, translators or interpreters, artists, linguists, cryptologists, and wage and hour investigators.
Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!
Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.
Talk with French faculty, the academic advisor, career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates with this degree.
Post-graduate short-term experiences
The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:
- Cultural Vistas
- Global Experiences
- Go Abroad
- IES Abroad
- Peace Corps
- Teach for America
Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as:
Fellowships for post-graduate study
Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.
Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:
- Cultural Vistas Professional Fellowships
- Boren Awards for International Study
- Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships
Graduate and professional study
When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.
A B.A. degree in French can prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as area studies, medicine, foreign languages and literature, linguistics, teaching, or international studies.
With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.
Students who pursue graduate studies in French have gone into careers as professors, doctors, foreign officers, translators, and linguists.
Graduate programs offered at IU include:
- African Studies
- Comparative Literature
- French/Francophone Studies
- French Linguistics
- Masters in French Instruction
- School of Medicine
- Second Language Studies
Talk with French faculty, the academic advisor, career coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.
The Department of French and Italian's Alumni Newsletters contain news about graduates who have studied French at IU.
Follow the French at IU Twitter page to connect with alumni and see current events.
The College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.
Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts and Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.
Is it for you?
The French major attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:
- Motivation to become fluent in French
- Interest in European culture and history
- Awareness of the importance of being multilingual
- A wish to become more culturally competent in regions outside of the United States
- Desire to study abroad in an immersive environment
- Passion to work internationally after graduation
- A wish to read French literature in its original language
- Curiosity about linguistics
Contact the French academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.
- Department website
- Advisor email address