Proficiency in a second language gives many students a competitive edge. French is one of the world’s most common second languages and many of the world's international organizations, including the UN, Red Cross, WTO and UNESCO, operate in French speaking cities. The European Union main offices and the European Parliament are also located in French speaking countries.

At Rochester, our students are immersed in French language, culture, history, politics, philosophy, art, and more. They attend small classes, meet with instructors regularly, and study and travel abroad. Our students also have the opportunity to experience our local French and Francophone community at cultural events, film screenings, conversation hour, and gastronomic adventures!

Former French majors and minors have gone on to dental school, medical school, law school, advanced degrees in education, graduate school in humanities and sciences. Many of them attribute their competitive edge to proficiency in a second language and exposure to other cultures.

Below is information on:

French Major Requirements

The major in French requires 10 courses:

FOUNDATION COURSES (fulfills upper level writing):

CLTR 200: Topics in Critical Thinking
CLTR 389: MLC Research Seminar


FREN 153: Intermediate French
FREN 200: Advanced French
FREN 202: Introduction to Literature in French
FREN 204: Contemporary French Culture


Four or more elective courses in French literature and culture including:

  • At least one course in literature and/or culture prior to the 20th century

  • At least one course in Francophone literature and/or culture

Majors are expected to consult with the French undergraduate advisor before registering for courses.

Complete list of French courses >

Students who are planning on teaching French at the secondary level or doing graduate work in French are advised to acquire basic mastery in another foreign language.

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French Minor Requirements

The minor in French requires five courses beyond first-year French. These will include the core courses:

  • FREN 153: Intermediate French
  • FREN 200: Advanced French
  • FREN 202: Introduction to French Literature
  • FREN 204: Contemporary France

And one elective (or two electives, if the student places directly into FREN 200), which could include one or more pf the following:

  • FREN 155: French Conversation
  • FREN 157 or 207: French in France
  • Another 200-level course in French in consultation with the undergraduate advisor

All courses you intend to count toward the minor must be approved by the undergraduate advisor prior to declaring the minor.

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French Clusters

Studies in Francophone Cultures (H1FREN004)
This cluster allows students to focus on the analysis of literature and culture of French expression in Africa and the Americas in the light of contemporary critical theory.

Introduction to French Language and Culture (H1FREN005)
This cluster introduces students to basic language skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) as well as the cultural context for French. The third element is a related course in Comparative Literature which will open up the study of this linguistic-cultural area by looking at the evolution of its civilization, the dynamics of contemporary life, or in some other way add depth to the study of this area.

Advanced French Language and Cultural Studies (H1FREN007)
This cluster allows students to perfect their language skills by pursuing literary or cultural study with a primary emphasis on language, or by focusing on the history of the French language.

Intermediate French Language and Culture (H1FREN011)
This cluster includes one intermediate course in French. It is followed by two further courses, either a survey of one period of literature/culture or focused on a particular author, type of literature, or on another specialized topic.

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Prizes for Excellence in French

The Sophomore Book Award

Awarded annually to one or more sophomores who show particular excellence and promise in the study of the French language, and French and Francophone literature and culture.

The Neil C. Arvin Prize for Excellence in French

Awarded annually to the graduating senior who has excelled in the study of French. The Arvin Prize carries with it a handsome cash award, and in some cases it may be divided between or among deserving students.

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Study Abroad in France

Majors are urged to consider studying in a French-speaking country for a year, a semester, or in a University-sponsored summer study program. Work done in an approved study abroad program may be given concentration credit up to a maximum of four courses.

The University is affiliated with several programs in countries where French is spoken: CIEE, Paris (“French and Critical Studies”); CIEE, Dakar, Senegal ("Development Studies" and "Language and Culture"); EPA Internships in Europe, Brussels, Belgium; IES Abroad, Nantes, Nice, and Paris; and IES Abroad, Rabat, Morocco. For more information, visit the Education Abroad website.

The Rennes Exchange
Each year, the French program of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures (MLC) sends a graduating senior to teach at the Université de Rennes (Haute Bretagne). Students teach English for the full academic year and are paid a salary that allows them to live comfortably and benefit from the many activities in and around Rennes. They may also enroll free-of-charge in academic programs and earn the Maîtrise degree.

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Language Placement Information

Advanced Placement (AP) scores or International Baccalaureate (IB) rankings assist departmental advisors in finding the right course level for you. Information on how you learned the language or languages you know will also help us advise you on the most appropriate courses for you in MLC.

For students with previous experience with the French language, the first step is to take the online placement exam. You will receive a score that will be used along with the other information you provide to help determine your placement. For instructions for how to login, see our online placement exam instructions page. Students who have not studied French previously and who are not heritage speakers of French may register for FR 101 without taking a placement exam.

The placement you receive with your online numerical test scores is not necessarily how you will be placed by MLC.

Students will receive a "Course planning, placement, and recommendations" sheet with their language placement information from Academic Advising during Orientation and via email.

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Contact Information


Robert Doran, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Head of the French Program, and Undergraduate French Advisor

Cilas Kemedjio, Professor of French and Francophone Studies and Frederic Douglass Professor

Carole Nasra, Associate Professor of Instruction in French and Language Placement Coordinator for French

Julie Papaioannou, Professor of Instruction in French, Language Pedagogy Coordinator, and Study Abroad Advisor for French

Anna Rosensweig, Associate Professor of French and Director of the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies

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