French Language and Literature Degree

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History of French Language

French Language and Literature is a field of study focused on the French Language.  The French language is a romance language part of the Indo-European language system.  French descended from Latin along with such languages as Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and other languages from around the globe.

French is the official language of nearly 30 countries making language is dominant in those French speaking countries.  Additionally, the French language is the fourth most popular language in the European Union.  It has been estimated that nearly 120 million individuals are native French speakers with nearly 200 million secondary French speakers.

Degrees in French Language

The degree options in French language and literature can include a traditional on-site classroom program, online degrees, and/or hybrid programs blending the two modalities.  The various learning formats afford students the opportunity to earn a degree in French through various degree programs.  Students seeking to major in French may elect to earn an Associate’s of Arts (AA) or a Bachelor’s of Arts (BA) in French literature.  Alternatively, students can enroll in a graduate program such as a Master of Arts (MA) or Doctorate degree often listed in a course catalog as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Each degree level mentioned will dictate a unique set of coursework and student responsibilities in and out of the classroom.  For example, students working towards an associate's degree will take a series of general education classes like creative writing, philosophy, and math along with core French curricula.  Core classes for students working towards an AA will be foundational 100 and 200 level classes.  Introductory classes about speaking French is key to overall proficiency.

On the other hand, earning a master's degree in French is a much more intensive degree to obtain.  Graduate students will have already completed a host of entry-level classes before entering a master in French degree program.  Students in graduate programs will be required to take a host of French speaking courses to help them speak French more fluently.  Graduate students will have fewer, more intense classes to prepare them for a career in French speaking capacities.

French Classes You Will Take

The classes you may find in a French Language and Literature program may not identical at every college but will contain a great deal of overlap.  As a general rule, you can expect to take a variety of college French classes that include any number of the following:

  • Introduction to France
  • Contemporary French Literature & Language
  • Anthropology
  • French Poetry
  • Urbanism in France
  • Economic Analysis
  • Social & Cultural Change
  • Modern France
  • History of France
  • French Culture & History
  • Methods and Theories of French Art
  • Globalization and Gender Studies
  • French Music and Art

Skills & Abilities Required for French Majors

  1. Clarity of Speech in English and French
  2. Exceptional Oral Expression
  3. Fluent French to English Translation
  4. Instructing Small and Large Groups
  5. French Language Reading Comprehension
  6. Active Listening Skills in English and French
  7. Writing in French
  8. French Comprehension
  9. Speech Recognition in French
  10. Written Comprehension of the French Language

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Employment Information & French Specializations

For students that earn a college degree in French Language and Literature, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue.  The options range from middle school teachers, high school teachers, public speakers, post-secondary teachers, translators, interpreters, business professionals, mediators, historians, authors, writers, and adult literacy teachers to name a few possible career tracks.

French Major Jobs & Career Outlook

Job growth for French majors are forecast to be above the national average according to studies performed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  In fact, the rate of job growth for interpreters is expected to jump 29% through 2024 compared to a six percent average for all vocations in the country.  Given the rapid increase in jobs, careers in French language should be readily available to qualified candidates.

In terms of compensation for French majors, studies reveal it will vary from industry to industry.  More specifically, your prior work experience in conjunction with city of residence and employer will dictate your salary. To provide you a baseline, the median salary for French interpreters is currently $47,190 with the bottom ten percent earning just under twenty-six thousand dollars and the top 10% earning $82,290 per year on average.

Resources for French Majors

The rich history of France provides students the unique opportunity to specialize in a particular area or learn about the country in a more general sense.  Students may find it useful to link up with domestic and international French organizations to learn more about various facets of French language.  We recommend the following organizations as a starting point to learn more about this area of study:

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Career Summary: French language literature Major




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