French Department

In the department of French and Italian.

Unless otherwise specified, all courses are conducted in French.

Achievement Test: Students seeking entrance credit in French and wishing to pursue French at Colby must either have taken the College Board SAT Subject test in French or taken the placement test during orientation.

The major in French studies promotes the acquisition of superior language skills while offering an opportunity to explore the richness of French and Francophone literatures and cultures. Emphasis is placed on developing the critical and analytical skills that enhance the appreciation of various forms of cultural production and on broadening and deepening students’ understanding of values foreign to
their own.


Chair, Professor Arthur Greenspan (French)
Professors Arthur Greenspan, Bénédicte Mauguière, and Adrianna Paliyenko; Associate Professor Valérie Dionne; Assistant Professors Audrey Brunetaux, Aurore Mroz, and Mouhamédoul Niang; Language Assistant Clara Garnier-Amouroux

Requirements +

Requirements for the Major in French Studies

Students must successfully complete a minimum of 10* courses in French, beginning at the 200 level, including French 231, 493, and two courses selected from 232, 233, 236, 238, 243, and 252. The 10 courses completed on campus or abroad must include

  • one course focusing on early modern France (pre-1800, such as French 232, 332, 397)
  • one course focusing on the Francophone world (such as French 236, 238, 351, 361, 370)

One course conducted in English in departments such as Art, Government, and History, in which the principal focus is France or Francophone countries, may be counted toward the major; it must be approved in advance. Majors must take at least one course in the department each semester. For students returning from foreign study, these courses must be numbered 300 or higher. Majors are required to spend at least one semester studying in a French-speaking country and are strongly encouraged to spend a full academic year. Three semester courses of transfer credit may be counted toward the major
for a semester of study away from Colby, a maximum of five for a year.

The point scale for retention of the major is based on all French courses numbered above 127. No major requirement may be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

* Potential majors beginning their French studies at the 100 level have the possibility of reducing the overall number of courses required from 10 to nine. Students should consult the department chair during their first year.

Honors in French

French studies majors with a 3.5 average or higher in the major may apply to do a senior honors thesis. Grades in all French courses taken in the major, either on campus or abroad (whether a Colby or a non-Colby program), will be included in determining the average.
Formal application must be received by April 10 (in the spring of the junior year) or Sept. 10 (in the fall of the senior year).
Students who successfully complete the honors thesis, including the oral defense, will graduate with “Honors in French.”