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 have taken either the College Board SAT Subject Test in French or the French Department’s online placement test.

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 Adrianna Paliyenko (French)
Professors Bénédicte Mauguière and Adrianna Paliyenko; Associate Professors Audrey Brunetaux, Valérie Dionne, and Mouhamédoul Niang; Visiting Assistant Professors Alexandrine Mailhé and Anaïs Maurer; Language Assistant Michel Billard de Saint Laumer

Requirements +

Requirements for the Major in French Studies

Students must successfully complete a minimum of 10 courses in French, beginning with either 128 or 131 (not both) and including French 231, 493, and two courses selected from 223, 232, 233, 236, 237, 238, 243, and 252. All 200-level courses must be taken prior to senior year. Students who begin their French studies in the 125-126-127 sequence are required to take a minimum of nine courses. Majors fulfill the senior seminar (493) requirement by electing the seminar section of a 300-level course, either in the fall or spring of their senior year, with supplementary work authorized by the instructor.

The 10 (or nine) courses completed on campus or abroad must include

  • one course focusing on early modern France, pre-1800 (such as French 232, 378, 392)
  • one course focusing on the Francophone world (such as French 236, 237, 238, 351, 361, 370, 375)
  • As of the Class of 2020, one course focusing on the acquisition of critical tools and methods and/or the application of theory (such as French 237, 252, 323, 351, 354, 355, 371, 373, 397)

One course conducted in English in a department such as art, government, or 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.

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.”