University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The undergraduate major in French is designed to allow students to acquire a considerable degree of competence in the written and spoken language as well as a familiarity with the literature and culture of France and the French-speaking world. It aims to develop the student’s critical appreciation of texts in French in both literary and cultural contexts. The department thus offers a large selection of courses in different periods and schools of criticism, as well as courses in composition, stylistics, translation, and linguistics. Furthermore, it encourages interdisciplinary studies in French through courses emphasizing the relation between literature and the other arts and between literature, history, and society. Particularly attractive for many students is the opportunity for the historical and critical study of French film. Most courses are conducted in French, and majors are expected to write papers and examinations in that language.

Given the breadth of its program, the French major may interest students desiring a general humanistic education based on the language and literature of the French-speaking world; students planning to teach French at the elementary or secondary level; students who intend to pursue graduate work in preparation for teaching and research at the college level; and students preparing for careers in such areas as international law, business, or government service, which require both training in a major foreign language and/or a general background in a humanistic discipline.

Declaring the Major

Students may declare the major at any point in their French studies, provided they have completed a minimum of 30 units of UCB coursework. To declare a major in French, students complete the departmental application form and submit it in person or via email to the Undergraduate Adviser. The form is also available in the French Department Undergraduate Office in 4209 Dwinelle. Applications to the major are accepted Fall, Spring and Summer semesters.

Students who are considering a major in French are encouraged to consult with the undergraduate adviser before declaring the major for help in deciding whether this major is appropriate for their academic goals, and for referrals to others who can assist in this decision. If a decision to major in French is reached, the undergraduate adviser will aid in planning the undergraduate program. The department strongly urges all majors to establish contact early with the undergraduate adviser to get answers to a broad range of questions regarding the French major and other issues related to completing the bachelor’s degree at Berkeley.

Honors Program

Senior French majors with both an overall grade point average of 3.5 and a grade point average (GPA) in French of 3.5 may apply to the honors program in French. Students meeting these criteria may obtain the application from the undergraduate adviser in 4209 Dwinelle Hall. After verification of GPA and proof that the student is in the final two semesters at Berkeley has been submitted to the undergraduate adviser, students prepare and submit a written proposal to both the major adviser and the supervisor of the thesis detailing the subject of the thesis. Upon admission to the honors program, students undertake research on an approved topic of their choice. The results of this research constitute an honors essay.

FRENCH H195A-FRENCH H195B is a two-semester sequence (2 units each semester); credit and grade are awarded upon completion of the sequence. Students should therefore begin the sequence no later than the semester before their final semester at Berkeley

The honors program is taken in addition to the eight upper division course, 32 upper division unit requirement for the major and does not count toward these minimums. The thesis may not be used as a paper or thesis for any other class or department.

Minor Program

The Department of French offers a general minor in French. For information regarding prerequisites and minor requirements, please see the Minor Requirements tab at the top right of this page.

Students who intend to complete the minor in French should fill out an Application to the General Minor in French once they have begun upper-division work in French (FRENCH 102 or above). Students should keep in contact with the Undergraduate Advisor in French as they complete coursework for the minor.

To complete the minor, students download and fill out the form called  “Completion of L&S Minor“. This petition is necessary for the official notation of the French Minor to appear on students’ transcripts.   This form must be completed and submitted by Friday of RRR week of a student’s Expected Graduation Term.  Students are responsible for the timely completion and submission of these forms. All petitions are reviewed and approved by the Undergraduate Advisor in French.

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Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Please note that a maximum of four approved study abroad equivalent courses can be applied toward the major requirements.  Please visit Department website for more information about study abroad for the French major.

Lower Division Preparation

FRENCH 1Elementary French5
FRENCH 2Elementary French5
FRENCH 3Intermediate French5
FRENCH 4Advanced Intermediate French5

Lower and Upper Division Requirements1

FRENCH 35Practical Phonetics and Listening Comprehension 23
FRENCH 102Reading and Writing Skills in French 34
French cultural studies and French linguistics: Select two courses from FRENCH 145-FRENCH 185. Additional courses completed in this category can count as Elective courses.8
FRENCH 145History of the French Language4
FRENCH 146AIntroduction to French Linguistics4
FRENCH 147Special Topics in French Linguistics4
FRENCH 148Translation Methodology and Practice4
FRENCH 150AWomen in French Literature4
FRENCH 150BWomen in French Literature4
FRENCH 151AFrancophone Literature4
FRENCH 151BFrancophone Literature4
FRENCH 161AA Year in French History4
FRENCH 161BA Year in French History4
FRENCH 162APerspectives on History4
FRENCH 162BPerspectives on History4
FRENCH 170French Films4
FRENCH 171AA Concept in French Cultural History4
FRENCH 171BA Concept in French Cultural History4
FRENCH 172APsychoanalytic Theory and Literature4
FRENCH 174Music and Literature4
FRENCH 175ALiterature and the Visual Arts4
FRENCH 177AHistory and Criticism of Film4
FRENCH 177BHistory and Criticism of Film4
FRENCH 178AStudies in French Film4
FRENCH 178BStudies in French Film4
FRENCH 180AFrench Civilization4
FRENCH 180BFrench Civilization4
FRENCH 180CFrench Civilization4
FRENCH 180DFrench Civilization4
FRENCH 183AConfigurations of Crisis4
FRENCH 183BConfigurations of Crisis4
FRENCH 185Literature and Colonialism4
French literary/genre studies: Select two courses from FRENCH 112A-FRENCH 126. Additional courses completed in this category can count as Elective courses.8
FRENCH 112AMedieval Literature4
FRENCH 112BMedieval Literature4
FRENCH 114ALate Medieval Literature4
FRENCH 116ASixteenth-Century Literature: Marot to Montaigne4
FRENCH 117ASeventeenth-Century Literature4
FRENCH 117BSeventeenth-Century Literature4
FRENCH 118AEighteenth-Century Literature4
FRENCH 118BEighteenth-Century Literature4
FRENCH 119ANineteenth-Century Literature4
FRENCH 119BNineteenth-Century Literature4
FRENCH 120ATwentieth-Century Literature4
FRENCH 120BTwentieth-Century Literature4
FRENCH 121ALiterary Themes, Genres, and Structures4
FRENCH 121BLiterary Themes, Genres, and Structures4
FRENCH 122ALiterary Criticism4
FRENCH 122BLiterary Criticism4
FRENCH 123Prose Fiction4
FRENCH 125APoetics and Poetry4
FRENCH 126Senior Seminar4
Select an additional three upper division FRENCH courses from FRENCH 103A - FRENCH 185, OR two additional upper division FRENCH courses from FRENCH 103A - FRENCH 185 plus one "outside elective" (subject to adviser approval; see below for past approved outside electives) 4, 5

 At least two of the required upper division courses must cover material focusing on the 18th century or earlier. If the student takes a survey course, two-thirds of the course material must focus on the 18th century or earlier (historical period requirement).


 Students may also satisfy the Phonetics requirement with completion of a semester (fall, spring or summer) of study abroad in a French immersion program.  Also, students with special circumstances/qualifications may have the Phonetics requirement waived by interview with the course director.


 FRENCH 102 is a prerequisite to all other upper division French courses (courses numbered 103 and above).  FRENCH 103A or FRENCH 103B Language and Culture may be taken concurrently with FRENCH 102 or after its successful completion.


 FRENCH H195AFRENCH H195BFRENCH 197, 198, and FRENCH 199 cannot be used to fulfill this requirement.


 FRENCH 140A THROUGH FRENCH 140D (French Literature in English Translation) require prior approval  from the undergraduate major adviser to count toward the major.

Outside Electives

Examples of outside electives approved in the past are listed below, but students may propose other courses to the undergraduate adviser for approval. These elective courses are designed to allow students to pursue interests of their own within the major, e.g., a concentration in linguistic study, or certain themes in literature and civilization. It is strongly recommended that all French majors take a French history course offered by the History Department.

All outside courses, whether listed below or not, require prior approval by the undergraduate adviser to count toward the major. Please note that only one outside elective may be used to satisfy major requirements.

HISTORY 155AMedieval Europe: From the Late Empire to the Investiture Conflict 14
HISTORY 155BMedieval Europe: From the Investiture Conflict to the Fifteenth Century 14
HISTORY 163ACourse Not Available 14
HISTORY 163BCourse Not Available 14
HISTORY 166ACourse Not Available4
HISTORY 166BModern France: Old Regime and Revolutionary France4
HISTORY 166CModern France4
HISTART 156AGothic Art in Northern Europe: 1150-12704
HISTART 180ANineteenth-Century Europe: Age of Revolution 14
HISTART 180CNineteenth-Century Europe: The Invention of Avant-Gardes 14
MED ST 150Studies in Medieval Culture2-4
PHILOS 170Descartes4
PHILOS 187Special Topics in the History of Philosophy 14
PHILOS 188Phenomenology4
PHILOS 189Special Topics in Recent European Philosophy 14
FRENCH 142ACThe Cultures of Franco-America4

 This course will only be approved for credit toward the French major when the emphasis for that term is on France or the French-speaking world.

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript.  They are not noted on the diploma.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  2. A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  4. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  5. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  6.   All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, please see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)
  8. You must declare the minor no later than the last day of instruction (RRR week) of your final term. If you are finishing in summer, you must declare by the final Friday of Summer Sessions. To declare, select 'Tools' from the menu on the left, then 'Forms & Petitions.' Download and complete the 'Completion of L&S Minor' form, obtain the requried signature from your Major Advisor, and submit the form to your Minor Advisor.
  9. Completion of a minor program is posted on the transcript alongside your major. Minor programs are not noted on diplomas.


All coursework is to be written in French. FRENCH 140A - FRENCH 140D (French Literature in English Translation) requires prior approval from the French department to count toward the minor.   FRENCH 142AC (Cultures of Franco-America) may satisfy one course requirement in the Minor.

FRENCH H195AFRENCH H195B, French 198 and FRENCH 199 do not count toward the minor.

Students may not receive upper division course credit toward the minor for AP language and Literature exams.

Lower Division Prerequisite
FRENCH 4Advanced Intermediate French (or equivalent)5
Upper Division
FRENCH 102Reading and Writing Skills in French 14
Select four upper division French courses, numbered between FRENCH 103A - FRENCH 185 2

Students wishing to request waivers of FRENCH 102 based on previous equivalent coursework should contact the undergraduate adviser in French, 4209 Dwinelle Hall. If a waiver is granted by the department, the student will still need to complete a total of five upper division French courses.


Only one course from the series FRENCH 103A and FRENCH 103B can be applied to the French minor.

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals

Learning Goals for the Major

  1. Attain solid (though not flawless) proficiency in reading, writing, understanding, and speaking French.
  2. Possess some understanding of the history and sociology of the French language.
  3. Be aware of a variety of ways in which the histories of French and Francophone literature and culture have traditionally been accounted for within French studies.
  4. Recognize and understand features of a variety of genres and modes in French and Francophone writing (the novel, poetic forms, short fiction, autobiography, film, etc.,), as well as of the vocabulary commonly used to describe them (i.e., narratology, vocabulary of versification or of film studies, etc.,).
  5. Have some familiarity with key rhetorical terms.
  6. Acquire a basic familiarity with some of the techniques of cultural analysis within French and Francophone studies.
  7. Be able to articulate specific connections between texts and cultural, artistic, social, and/or political contexts.
  8. Gain an understanding of literature and of other written texts in interdisciplinary and multicultural contexts.
  9. Be aware of debates about the nature of literature.
  10. Be widely read in French literature.


  1. Develop the ability to interpret and analyze any given text from the French and Francophone domains using a variety of methods, both in isolation and together (such as close reading, linguistic analysis, theoretical analysis, historical and cultural contextualization, etc.,).
  2. Be capable of interpreting culture and cultural artifacts in the French and Francophone domains.
  3. Formulate a well-organized, well-supported argument both orally and in writing.
  4. Write essays in standard academic French, using appropriate vocabulary whenever needed to discuss precise examples in specific texts.
  5. Begin to acquire independent research skills on a given topic or text and know how to make use of secondary sources. (For instance, know how to read and analyze a scholarly article or how to compile a bibliography.)
  6. Observe ethical, precise, and accurate citation practices in both oral and written work.

Academic Opportunities

Study Abroad

The Berkeley Study Abroad Program offers opportunities for study in France for one semester, for one year, or for the summer.

The majority of students in the French major and minor programs at UC Berkeley complete some portion of their undergraduate study abroad through the Berkeley Study Abroad Program. Given the increasing globalization of the world, living abroad helps expand students' understanding of diverse, culturally rooted attitudes and behaviors. Studying abroad enhances cross-cultural awareness, competency, and adaptability. Students find that living and studying abroad expands their perspective, improves critical thinking, increases independence, and better prepares them for a career in an increasingly competitive world.

Interested students should obtain the relevant information early in the semester preceding the one in which they plan to go abroad from the Berkeley Study Abroad office, located in 160 Stephens Hall, 510-642-1356,

Students should consult with the undergraduate adviser before going abroad (whether through Berkeley Study Abroad or through non-UC sponsored programs) in order to determine whether their program of study will count toward their French major or minor.

Applying Study Abroad Coursework toward French Major/Minor Requirements

When determining equivalent coursework for Berkeley Study Abroad courses, it is a question of equivalent content at an equivalent level. Courses must correspond in content and level to UC Berkeley upper division French courses required for the major or minor.

Criteria for determining if coursework is equivalent:

  1. Course must be taught in French.
  2. Content of the course must be equivalent to upper division French courses offered at UC Berkeley. This means most courses in French Literature, French Linguistics, French Film, and Advanced French Language Study will be good candidates.
  3. Course hours must be (approximately) equivalent to upper division French courses offered at UC Berkeley (about 4 semester units).

Final approval of equivalent coursework is granted after the student returns from study abroad, and the course grades and units have been posted to the student’s UC Berkeley transcript.

Coursework completed in the UCEAP Language and Culture programs is not considered equivalent to third- and fourth-year level French courses at UC Berkeley, and thus cannot be applied toward required upper division courses for the French major or minor.

Student’s equivalent courses from study abroad can be applied toward a maximum of four French major course requirements. No more than one course per semester may be taken on a P/NP basis for major/minor credit.

For additional information, contact Carol Dolcini, Undergraduate French Adviser, at



Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Deborah Anne Blocker, Associate Professor. Early modern French literature and history.
Research Profile

+ Karl A. Britto, Associate Professor. Africa, cultural studies, the Caribbean, literature, francophone literature, colonial and postcolonial literature, Vietnam, gender and identity.
Research Profile

Eglantine L. Colon, Assistant Professor. French.

Suzanne Guerlac, Professor. Nationalism, literature, philosophy, 19th- and 20th-century literature, myths of literature and theory, contemporary cultural criticism.
Research Profile

+ Timothy Hampton, Professor. Culture, politics, English, comparative literature, French, renaissance and early modern European culture, the romance languages, the ideology of literary genre, the literary construction of nationhood, the rhetoric of historiography.
Research Profile

David Hult, Professor. Literary theory, medieval French literature, allegory, hermeneutics, text editing, French Studies.
Research Profile

Richard G. Kern, Professor. Literacy, second language acquisition, writing, psycholinguistics, reading, French language, French linguistics, technology and education.
Research Profile

Michael Lucey, Professor. Pragmatics, the novel, sexuality studies, comparative literature, French, French literature, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, British literature and culture, social and literary theory, cultural studies of music, studies of language in use, theories of practice, twentieth-century American literature.
Research Profile

Susan Maslan, Associate Professor. French, early modern French literary, political history, the enlightenment, human rights.
Research Profile

Mairi Mclaughlin, Associate Professor. French linguistics, Italian linguistics, romance linguistics, translation studies, history of French, History of Italian, History of the Romance Languages, language contact, History of the Press, Speech Reporting.
Research Profile

Nicholas Paige, Professor. Cinema (French New Wave), 17th- and 18th-century French literature and culture, history and theory of the novel, quantitative literary history and digital humanities, aesthetics and image theory, subjectivity and autobiography.
Research Profile

+ Debarati Sanyal, Professor. Violence, poetry, the relationship between literary form, politics in 19th-century France, the connection between performance, performativity, ethics in modernist texts.
Research Profile

Soraya Tlatli, Associate Professor. Francophone literature, colonial and postcolonial studies, literature and psychoanalysis, twentieth-century continental philosophy.
Research Profile

Damon R. Young, Assistant Professor.


Daniel Hoffmann, Lecturer.

Vesna Rodic, Lecturer.

Ariel Shannon, Lecturer.

Rachel Shuh, Lecturer.

Maya Sidhu, Lecturer.

Margot Szarke, Lecturer.

Claire Tourmen, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Esther Alder, Professor Emeritus.

Leo Bersani, Professor Emeritus.

Ulysse Dutoit, Professor Emeritus.

Basil Guy, Professor Emeritus.

Leonard W. Johnson, Professor Emeritus.

Thomas M. Kavanagh, Professor Emeritus.

Ann Smock, Professor Emeritus. Poetry, French, France during World War II, the Algerian War, 20th-century writing by women, relations between literature and music, Jacques Roubaud, Danielle Collobert.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of French

4125 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2712

Fax: 510-642-8852

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Nicholas Paige

4212 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2712

Academic Manager

Gail Ganino

4125 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510 642-2715

Faculty Undergraduate Adviser

Susan Maslan

4219 Dwinelle Hall

Undergraduate Student Services Adviser

Carol Dolcini

4209 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-2713

Head Graduate Adviser

Debarati Sanyal

4211 Dwinelle Hall

Graduate Student Services Adviser

Mary Ajideh

4207 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510 642-2714

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