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You are here: Home / Undergraduate Studies

General Information

A Message from the Department Head

The French language is the most direct route to 150,000,000 people in over 40 countries and territories of Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and Latin America. If your goals include a future that requires contact with these diverse peoples or if your plan is to teach French, we offer a variety of options that will fit your needs: French/Business, French/Engineering, French language and culture, French language and literature, French language and linguistics, Applied French, and certification for teaching French in conjunction with the College of Education. Currently, a third or so majors are combining French with a major in another field such as political science, journalism, English, finance, history, education, hotel and restaurant management, international studies, information sciences and technology, or a second language. Over 80 students have opted to add a minor in French to their degree programs. And over 1,200 students per semester take French courses to sharpen skills acquired in high school.

For more information, browse the related links on our Web page, drop by to visit us in our newly renovated Burrowes building, or send us an e-mail.


Monicat-UG pic

Bénédicte Monicat, Interim Department Head
Department of
French and Francophone Studies

A Message from the Director of Undergraduate Studies

The Department’s undergraduate program — one of the most vibrant in the U.S. — offers a unique variety of major options to suit any area of interest. Besides the traditional B.A. degrees in Language and Culture, Language and Literature, and Language and Linguistics, we grant more professionally oriented B.S. degrees in Applied French, French-Business, and French-Engineering. Both the B.A. and B.S. options work extremely well with concurrent majors. We are proud that our major courses are, for the most part, taught in small-class settings by full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty.

More than 50% of French and Francophone Studies majors study abroad for a summer, a semester, or a year. They find that this kind of immersion experience fosters not only linguistic fluency but also the poise, independence, cultural literacy, and self-confidence that recruiters look for in job candidates. Penn State currently sponsors French-speaking programs in France (Aix, Avignon, Besançon, Montpellier, Paris, Strasbourg), Belgium (Brussels), and Sénégal (Dakar). 

Since all six French major options share the same set of core courses (FR 201, FR 202, three of the following: FR 331, FR 332, FR 351, FR 352, and a class in French Linguistics), it is possible to switch from one specialization to another as your interests and goals evolve during your career at Penn State. It is, of course, important to declare your French major as early as possible in order to benefit from professional advising about course selection, study abroad, and career opportunities (and to have the major show up on your transcript — an advantage for those seeking summer jobs!). However, students returning from study abroad sometimes decide to change major options in order to pursue an exciting new career path discerned during their overseas experience.

Our graduates have gone on to law, business, or medical school; taught in France as Fulbright Scholars or on French government teaching assistantships; worked for the Peace Corps, Homeland Security, Christie’s auction house, world health organizations, and the non-profit sector; become high school teachers, university professors, and instructional designers; and gone into film, journalism, advertising, and information technology — among many other professions. This diversity of interests promotes a highly stimulating exchange in the classroom, and the Department faculty are delighted by the many ways that FFS majors find to apply their linguistic, cultural, and literary studies to their individual lives and objectives.



Heather McCoy, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Department of French and Francophone Studies
E-mail: hjm10@psu.edu


Credit by Examination

Students who have proficiency in French and wish to earn credit for courses in the Basic  Language Program (FR01, 02 & 03) are eligible to take the final exam by contacting the faculty member listed below. Please note that students can only take the exam for a course that they are eligible to take per the PSU language placement policy, and students are not permitted to take a credit-by-exam test for a course that has ever appeared on their transcript.  Students who receive a grade of C or higher will earn credits toward fulfilling the language requirement, although no grade will appear on the student’s transcript. Please note that there is a fee ($120) that must be paid prior to taking the exam.

Non-Credit Proficiency Certification Exam

Students who wish to demonstrate proficiency up to the 18th credit may do so by taking a Non-Credit Proficiency Certification Exam. Students will be tested on listening, speaking, reading and writing skills and must receive a grade of C to demonstrate proficiency. The fee for this exam is $60, and must be paid prior to taking the exam.

Please note that both exams are quite difficult to pass if the student has not covered the material tested in a course or does not have the adequate level of proficiency. Students who are wishing to satisfy the B.A. language requirement are only encouraged to take this test if they have a demonstrated proficiency in French.

Students wishing to take either exam are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the material covered in the Basic Language Program by looking at the following chapters of the textbook listed below:

FR 01 : Cosmopolite 1 Dossiers 1-5
FR 02 : Cosmopolite 1 Dossiers 6-8Cosmopolite 2 Dossiers 1-2 
FR 03 : Cosmopolite 2 Dossiers 3-7

Please note that both exams are quite difficult to pass if the student has not covered the material tested in a course or does not have the adequate level of proficiency. Students who are wishing to satisfy the B.A. language requirement are only encouraged to take this test if they have a demonstrated proficiency in French.

If you would like to schedule one of these exams, please contact Dr. Heather McCoy (hjm10@psu.edu).