French Major (B.A.)

French Major (B.A.)

French students in class lecture

What is French?

French is the official language in 33 countries spread over five continents. While studying for your degree in French, you will gain fluency by learning the language and open your horizons by exploring French and Francophone literature, films and other cultural productions. You will learn about historical and contemporary civilization in a number of French-speaking countries, acquiring a deeper understanding of French heritage and the variety of cultures that make up the Francophone world.

Why study French at UNH?

As a French major at UNH, you will work closely with dedicated and caring faculty who will get to know you well. You will be able to study abroad in a French-speaking country and have opportunities to conduct research abroad. Our department maintains highly recommended semester- and yearlong programs through the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France. Co-curricular activities on campus include a conversation hour and language clubs. You can combine French with other disciplines, such as international affairs or engineering, because of the importance of mastering a second language in our globalized world.

Potential careers

  • Foreign service officer
  • Gastronomy professional
  • Hospitality and tourism professional
  • Immigration professional
  • Interpreter
  • Lawyer
  • Paralegal
  • Social worker
  • Teacher
  • Translator


Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
210L Murkland Hall
15 Library Way
Durham, NH 03824

Phone: (603) 862-4005

  • French and International Affairs Major | Professional Basketball Player
    As a kid from Senegal, West Africa, where the daily life is constantly a battle for a lot of people to eat at their satisfaction. I was very fortunate to be part of a family where my father had a decent job. He was able to take of me and my four other siblings. My parents were unfortunately...
    French and International Affairs Major | Professional Basketball Player
    As a kid from Senegal, West Africa, where the daily life is constantly a battle for a lot of people to eat at their satisfaction. I was very fortunate to be part of a family where my father had a decent job. He was able to take of me and my four other siblings. My parents were unfortunately...

Curriculum & Requirements

The undergraduate major in French offered by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures is centered on the study of the French language and the literatures and cultures of France and the French-speaking world. Students who complete the requirements for the major can expect to become proficient in French at a level that would allow them to communicate with native speakers, to develop an in-depth critical appreciation of French and Francophone cultures and literatures, and to be culturally sensitive members of society.

The program offers courses devoted to authors, works, and literary and cultural movements that span ten centuries and four continents. The curriculum also includes interdisciplinary courses on relations between literature and other areas of study such as history, law, religion, politics and the arts. All courses are conducted in French, and majors are expected to write papers and examinations in that language.

French can be taken either as a primary major or as one of two majors, in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. Appropriate majors to combine with French might include, but are not limited to, international affairs, political science, English, education, film and media studies, history, music, philosophy, theater studies, women’s studies, business and communication.

The French major may interest students desiring a general humanistic education based on the language and literature of the French-speaking world; students planning to teach French at the elementary or secondary level; students who intend to pursue graduate work in preparation for teaching and research at the college level; and students preparing for careers in such areas as international law, business, journalism, international organizations, and public or government service, which require both training in a major foreign language and/or a general background in a humanistic discipline.

A major consists of 40 credits in courses numbered 631 or above, in which readings are in French. Coursework for the French major must be completed with a grade of C or better. Majors are required to take:

FREN 631Advanced French: Reading and Writing4
FREN 632Advanced French: Listening and Speaking4
FREN 651Love, War, and Power in French Literature4
FREN 652Greatest Hits of French4
FREN 790Cultural Encounters: A View from Abroad4
Select at least two 700-level literature courses at the Durham campus:8
FREN 762
The Age of Versailles
FREN 765
Rebellion and Upheaval in 18th-Cenutry Literature and Culture
FREN 775
Les Mis and their World
FREN 785
Francophonies Plurielles
Select three other elective courses:12
FREN 675
Social Issues in French Literature
FREN 676
Topics in Francophone Culture
FREN 677
France in the European Union
FREN 762
The Age of Versailles
FREN 765
Rebellion and Upheaval in 18th-Cenutry Literature and Culture
FREN 775
Les Mis and their World
FREN 785
Francophonies Plurielles
Total Credits40

Students are required to enroll in at least one course each semester in their major program and to spend at least one semester abroad in a French-speaking country. The UNH-managed program in Dijon is highly recommended and offers year- and semester-long options. Other options are available, but non-UNH programs must be chosen in consultation with a major adviser and the UNH Global Education Center. Students in majors with inflexible curricula (like engineering, some sciences, and health care) who wish to complete a second major in French should consult with a French advisor about possible alternative means of satisfying the study abroad requirement.

Transfer students must earn a minimum of 12 major credits at the Durham campus. Of these 12 credits, one course must be FREN 790 Cultural Encounters: A View from Abroad and at least one 700-level course in French/Francophone literature.

The Discovery Program capstone requirement may be fulfilled by completing FREN 790 Cultural Encounters: A View from Abroad.

The required minimum overall GPA in major coursework is 2.0.

Candidates for a degree must satisfy all of the University Discovery Program requirements in addition to satisfying the requirements of each individual major program. Bachelor of arts candidates must also satisfy the foreign language proficiency requirement.

French majors may use two major-required courses to satisfy two Discovery category requirements.

Explore Program Details

French placement exams are required so that students may register for the course appropriate to their skills.

Go to the Placement Test page and begin your test.

French Course Placement Guidelines

FREN 401-402

FREN 403

FREN 503

FREN 504

FREN 631 or 632

Elementary French

Intensive Review of French

Intermediate French I

Intermediate French II

Advanced French

Intro. to basic language skills

Course for students in need of review for lang. and reading skills

Development of lang. & reading skills, intro. to cultural materials from France and other French-speaking areas

Continued development of lang. & reading skills, cultural materials from France and other French-speaking areas

In-depth study of more advanced lang. skills and patterns (incl. grammar, conversation, & composition) and cultural material

No previous study of French

Normally, 1 to 2 years of high school French

3-4 years high school French or FREN 402 or 403 with C or better

4-5 years high school French or FREN 503 with C or better

AP French (score 4 or 5) or FREN 504 with C or better

Placement test not required

Placement test score 280-340*

Placement test score 341-394

Placement test score 395-439

Placement test score 440-above

Both 401 and 402 must be completed to satisfy the BA foreign language requirement

Does not count toward major/minor, Discovery (WC) and BA foreign language requirements

Counts toward minor, Discovery (WC), BA foreign language requirement

Counts toward minor, Discovery (WC), BA foreign language requirement

Counts toward major, minor, BA foreign language

No credit will be given for this course if student has previously studied French

* If your score is below 280, retake the test &/or consult a language advisor

Students may also complete this course abroad (see UNH summer prog. in Dijon, France)

Students may also complete this course abroad

(see UNH summer prog. in Dijon, France)

Family language heritage or residence in a French-speaking country may also be a factor in placing here





Students may also be able to complete this course abroad

(see UNH summer prog. in Dijon, France)

Majors are required to spend at least one semester in a French-speaking country. The department offers a UNH-managed program at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France (see FREN 690). It is administered by the College's Center for Study Abroad. This program spans either the fall or spring semester or the entire academic year and is open to all qualified UNH students who have completed, with a grade of B- or better, FREN 631-632 and FREN 651-652 by the end of the semester preceding their departure. Early consultation with the director of the program is urged. Non-credit orientation meetings are required during the semester prior to departure. It is also possible to study in another French-speaking country through a program approved by the UNH Global Education.

COLA Study Abroad
UNH Study Abroad

The Walter Jensen Scholarship for Study Abroad

This scholarship is available from the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) for undergraduates who expect to be future teachers of French. The award helps fund study abroad for one semester or an entire academic year on a program approved by their University. For further information about eligibility, deadlines, and the application form, go to

The Benjamin Franklin Travel Grant 

This travel grant aims at giving students enrolled in an American University an opportunity to discover France. It is open to sophomore, junior & senior students who are enrolled in a double major including one major in French and one major in another discipline. Consideration will also be given to students enrolled in a minor/certificate in French and majoring in another subject.

Applications from students who are in a course combining French and a non-humanities major such as pre-med, law, engineering, sciences, computer sciences, mathematics, business & management are encouraged. For more information:

Phi Beta Kappa Fellowships

Two fellowships are awarded annually by Phi Beta Kappa that provide significant financial support for continued study in French language and literature.

The Walter J. Jensen Fellowship for French Language, Literature, and Culture funds at least six months of study in France and carries a minimum stipend of $10,000. Candidates must have earned a B.A. degree with a French major and a minimum 3.0 cum gpa.

The Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship is awarded in alternate years in the fields of Greek and French. The award may be used for the study of the French language or literature (or Greek, in alternating years). It carries a stipend of $20,000. Candidates for the Sibley award must be unmarried women aged 25 to 35 and have earned a Ph.D. or have fulfilled all the requirements for a doctorate except the dissertation.

NSEP David L. Boren Graduate Fellowships

Sponsored by the Institute of International Education. Between $10k and $20k for a semester or year abroad studying less commonly taught language and regions. Must have an interest in “national security, broadly defined,” and be willing to work (paid) for the government for one year following graduation in the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, State, or an element of the Intelligence Community. French is available under the African Languages Initiative Options. Eligible: undergraduate and graduate students. Learn more at the program website or email

Global Scholar

Offers between $1000 and $2500 for study abroad, internship, service learning programs, etc. Deadline April, June, November (rolling).

Fund for Education Abroad

Up to 15 scholarships, each worth up to $10,000 to support students planning to participate in high-quality, rigorous education abroad programs. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents currently enrolled as undergraduates in US universities/colleges who plan to study abroad for at least four weeks between May 2016 and May 2017. Deadline: January 2015 (1.5 years in advance-requires planning ahead)

Humanity in Action Fellowship

Summer program focusing on human rights, national histories of discrimination and resistance, and the relationship between majority and minority populations in the five European countries where the programs take place – Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland. Deadline: January.


Designed for students who are interested in discovering their potential for a research career. Opportunities to spend a semester as a junior researcher at universities in Switzerland, Italy, Belgium or Germany. The curriculum will consist of the Research Project (main element), literature review (independent study), elective (if applicable), and a language and culture course at the host university. Deadlines: April/October (Fall/Spring semester)


Grants for graduating seniors, alumni, or graduate students to a) teach English abroad (in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, etc.) or b) study, conduct research, or a combination of these in one of over 155 countries, including France. Travel, living allowance, and stipend provided. Deadline: September for subsequent academic year. UNH Fulbright Day held every March. Contact the Office for more details.

Pasteur Foundation Summer Internship Program

Provides U.S. undergraduates with the opportunity to conduct summer biomedical research at the lnstitut Pasteur. The foundation's goal is to encourage students in the pursuit of a scientific career and to expose them to an international laboratory experience. Deadline: December

Thomas Pickering and Charles Rangle Foreign Service Fellowships 

Both of these programs provide funding to participants as they prepare academically and professionally to enter the United States Department of State Foreign Service. Women, members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, and students with financial need are encouraged to apply; for juniors (Pickering) and seniors (Pickering and Rangel). Deadline: January and February.

Killam Fellowships (Canada)

The Killam Fellowships Program allows undergraduate students from Canada and the United States to participate in a program of binational residential exchange. Killam Fellows spend either one semester or a full academic year as an exchange student in the host country. Deadline: End of January for subsequent academic year.

Opportunities for Work in France or in the Francophone World

Teach English in France

Every year, the French Ministry of Education and the Cultural Services at the French Embassy offer approximately 1,600 teaching assistantship positions in French primary and secondary schools of France and the DOM-TOMs (overseas departments). Contact a French faculty member for more information. Students may also apply to participate through the Fulbright program. Please visit their website for more information:

Peace Corps

French speakers are needed in the Peace Corps. Learn more.

take the next step

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