French studies majors with a 3.5 average or higher in the major may apply to do a senior honors thesis. The grades in all French courses taken in the major, either on campus or abroad (on a Colby or a non-Colby program), will be included in determining the average.


The thesis is to be a substantial study (50-70 pages) of a carefully defined subject, an original thesis supported by critical sources. It will be written in French and will conform to the MLA Style Manual.


By April 10th (in the spring of the junior year) or September 10th (in the fall of the senior year), the student will submit a 1-2 page proposal to the Department Chair. Written under the supervision of the faculty member who has agreed to serve as director of the thesis, the proposal will offer an overview of the works to be studied and the approach to be taken.

Individual Thesis Committee

The student and the thesis director will form a Thesis Committee with two additional faculty members (readers) from the Department. Readers will meet twice with the thesis director: at the end of the fall semester, to discuss the student’s progress; and at the end of the spring semester, to assign a grade to the thesis. The student communicates only with the thesis director, who will share with her or him the readers’ comments and suggestions.


Ideally, the student will begin reading during the summer months before courses begin in the fall semester. During the fall semester, under the supervision of the thesis director, the student will thoroughly research the topic, and will submit a detailed outline of the thesis before Christmas. The January and spring terms will be devoted to the writing of the thesis. Its final draft will be due on April 1. The Individual Thesis Committee may ask the student to make revisions before a final grade is assigned.


The thesis must receive a final grade of A- or higher to qualify for Honors. The grade will be computed by averaging the grades of the director and the readers.


The student will register in French 483/484 (Senior Thesis) for two credits in the fall semester, two credits in the January term, and two credits in the spring semester. The credits received for the thesis count toward the major, but the thesis does not replace the requirement that all majors enroll in a course each semester. If the student is making satisfactory progress, non-graded credits (CR) will be posted for the fall and January terms. Once the thesis is completed and assigned a grade at the end of the spring semester, this grade will then replace the CR posted for the fall and January terms. If a student’s thesis does not receive the required minimum grade of A-, the grade assigned will replace the CR posted for the fall and January terms, but the Registrar will change the registration to 493/494 (Independent Study) for all three terms. If for whatever reason a student does not bring the honors thesis to satisfactory completion after having received non-graded credit(s) in either or both the fall and January terms, the grade of CR will remain in the student’s transcript for those terms.


Upon completion of the thesis, there will be an oral defense in French, which will be open to all members of the Department and invited guests. The student will submit a clean, bound copy of the thesis to the Chair of the Department.