French Department

In the Department of French and Italian Studies

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 along with an opportunity to explore, via a set of multi-disciplinary approaches, the richness of French and Francophone cultures. Emphasis is placed on developing skills in critical analysis that enhance appreciation of print and visual texts while also broadening and deepening students’ understanding of values foreign to their own. Advanced competence in French and a heightened reflection about cultural differences offer students a fuller grasp of the world in an era of globalization and the opportunity to secure employment that will allow them to develop further their foreign language skills.


Chair, Associate Professor Mouhamédoul Niang (French)
Professors Bénédicte Mauguière and Adrianna Paliyenko; Associate Professors Audrey Brunetaux, Valérie Dionne, and Mouhamédoul Niang; Assistant Professor Carl Cornell; Visiting Assistant Professor Flavien Falantin; Language Assistant Elsa Fèvre

Requirements +

Requirements for the Major in French Studies

A minimum of 10 courses is required to complete the major for students starting at the 200 level. Students who begin their study of French at Colby in the required 125-126-127 sequence need to take nine additional courses, including 128 or 131. Students who begin in either 128 or 131 need to take nine additional courses. Students who enter the major from Colby in Dijon may count FR240D toward the major. All 200-level courses must be taken prior to senior year.

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 and select 300- or 400-level courses)
  • one course focusing on the Francophone world (such as French 236, 237, 238, 297, and select 300- or 400-level courses)
  • one course focusing on the acquisition of critical tools and methods and/or the application of theory (such as French 233, 252, and select 300- or 400-level courses)
  • one senior seminar (such as French 493). 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.

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 by the advisor in the major or department chair.

Majors must take at least one course in the department each semester (that cannot be an independent study).

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.

An independent study cannot replace the requirement for majors to take a course in the department each semester.

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 30 (in the spring of the junior year) or Sept. 7 (in the fall of the senior year).

Students who successfully complete the honors thesis, including the oral defense, will graduate with “Honors in French.”