French and Romance Philology

Administrative Information

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Vincent Debaene, 501 Philosophy; 854-3522;

Director of the Language Program: Dr. Pascale Hubert-Leibler, 519 Philosophy; 854-4819;

Academic Department Administrator: Isabelle Chagnon, 515 Philosophy; 854-3208 or 854-2500;

Departmental Office: 515 Philosophy; 854-3208 or 854-2500

Antoine Compagnon
Souleymane Bachir Diagne
Pierre Force
Elisabeth Ladenson
Sylvie Lefèvre

Associate Professors
Peter Connor (Barnard)
Vincent Debaene
Madeleine Dobie
Emmanuelle Saada
Joanna Stalnaker

Senior Lecturer
Pascale Hubert-Leibler

Vincent Aurora Alexandra Borer Pascale Crepon
Heidi Holst-Knudsen
Sophie Queuniet
Samuel Kippon

The undergraduate major in French gives students an in-depth familiarity with the language, culture, and literature of France and the French-speaking world. After completing the four-semester language requirement, students take courses in advanced grammar, composition and stylistics to refine their skills in reading, speaking, and writing French. In a required two-semester survey course, they receive a comprehensive overview of the development of French literature from the Middle Ages to the present day. Advanced elective courses on French literature, history, philosophy, and cinema allow students to explore intellectual interests, perfect critical reading skills, and master close reading techniques. The capstone course is the senior seminar, in which students study a range of texts and critical approaches and are encouraged to synthesize their learning in previous courses. The optional senior essay, written under the direction of a faculty member, or in an independent study during the student's stay at Reid Hall, introduces students to scholarly research. To be considered for departmental honors, students must complete the senior essay.

Students interested in French history and civilization, and in the literature and culture of the Francophone world, should consider the major in French and Francophone studies, also administered by the French Department.

In Fulfillment of the Language Requirement

FREN W1101-FREN W1102 and W1201-W1202. Entering students are placed, or exempted, on the basis of their College Board Achievement or Advanced Placement scores, or their scores on the placement test administered by the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner. An SAT score of 780 or a score of 4 on the AP exam satisfy the language requirement. The Barnard course, BC1204 Intermediate French II does not fulfill the undergraduate language requirement.

Language Proficiency Courses

Elementary and intermediate French courses help students develop an active command of the language. In W1101 and W1102, the communicative approach is the main instructional method. In addition to practicing all four language skills—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—students are introduced to the cultural features of diverse French-speaking communities. Intermediate courses, W1201 and W1202, develop linguistic competence through the study of short stories, films, novels and plays. After completing the four-semester language sequence, students can discuss and write in fairly proficient French on complex topics. At the third-year level, attention is focused on more sophisticated use of language in grammar and composition courses and on literary, historical, and philosophical questions. In French W3333 and W3334, the whole span of French literature is surveyed; students learn techniques for analyzing literature of different centuries, styles, and genres. After completing these core courses, French majors are encouraged to pursue individual interests; a wide range of language, literature, and cultural studies courses is available. Small classes and seminars allow for individual attention and enable students to work closely with faculty members.

Conversation Courses

Students looking for intensive French oral practice may take one of the 2-point conversation courses offered at intermediate and advanced levels. Conversation courses generally may not be counted toward the major. The exception is the special 3-point advanced conversation course, French cultural workshop, offered in the fall, designed to meet the needs of students planning to study abroad at Reid Hall.

Advanced Placement

The department grants 3 credits for a score of 5 on the AP French Language exam, which satisfies the foreign language requirement. Credit is awarded upon successful completion of a 3000-level (or higher) course with a grade of B or higher. This course must be for at least 3 points of credit and be taught in French. Courses taught in English may not be used for language AP credit. The department grants 0 credits for a score of 4 on the AP French Language exam, but the foreign language requirement is satisfied. The department grants 3 credits for a score of 5 on the AP French Literature exam, which satisfies the foreign language requirement. Credit is awarded upon successful completion of a 3000-level (or higher) course with a grade of B or higher. This course must be for at least 3 points of credit and be taught in French. Courses taught in English may not be used for language AP credit. The department grants 0 credits for a score of 4 on the AP French Literature exam, but the foreign language requirement is satisfied.

Language Laboratory and On-line Materials

Language laboratories located in the International Affairs Building provide opportunities for intensive practice in French pronunciation and aural comprehension. French courses typically make extensive use of on-line interactive materials that students can access from their own computer terminals.

Maison Française

Students interested in French should acquaint themselves with the Maison Française, which houses a reading room of French newspapers, periodicals, books, and videos, and sponsors lectures/discussions by distinguished French visitors to New York City. With its weekly French film series, book club, café-conversation and other events, the Maison Française offers an excellent opportunity for students to perfect their language skills and enhance their knowledge of French and Francophone culture.

Study Abroad

Because a direct experience of contemporary French society is an essential part of the program, French majors and concentrators are strongly encouraged to spend either a semester or a year at Reid Hall-Columbia University in Paris, or at another French/Francophone university. During their time abroad students take courses credited toward the French major, and in some cases also toward other majors (e.g. history, art history, political science). Qualified students may also apply to the Columbia/Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po) five-year BA/MA program. Students interested in this opportunity should speak to their undergraduate advisers and major adviser and contact the Office of Global Programs (OGP).

For information on study abroad, visit the OGP website at, call 212-854-2559, or e-mail For a list of approved study abroad programs, visit

Reid Hall, Paris

Located at 4 rue de Chevreuse, Paris, Reid Hall is administered by Columbia University. It offers semester and year-long programs of study, as well as summer courses. Most students who study at Reid Hall take courses in the French university system (e.g. at the Sorbonne, or Sciences Po) and core courses offered at Reid Hall. Students begin their stay at Reid Hall with a month-long French immersion program. In their first semester, most students also take a course in academic writing in French, enabling them to succeed at a high level in French university courses. Special opportunities include small topical seminars of Reid Hall students and French students. For information on study abroad at Reid Hall, see


Students who wish to offer toward the major or concentration a course in which a grade of D has been received must consult with the director of undergraduate studies.

Departmental Honors

Majors who wish to be considered for departmental honors should consult with the director of undergraduate studies. To be eligible, students must have a grade point average of at least 3.7 in major courses and have completed an approved senior thesis under the guidance of a faculty member at Columbia or Reid Hall. Normally no more than 10% of graduating majors each year receive departmental honors.

Undergraduate Prizes

The Department of French and Romance Philology awards the following prizes to students enrolled in French/ French and Francophone Studies courses:

  1. Prize for Excellence in French Studies: awarded to a highly promising student in an intermediate or advanced French course
  2. Senior French Prize: awarded to an outstanding graduating major