University of California, Berkeley


The Department of French offers a complete language sequence (French 1-4 + French 102) for those interested in learning or continuing their study of French. Upon the completion of this coursework or its equivalent (see departmental placement guidelines), students dive into French and francophone literature, theater, film, culture, and history with opportunities to deepen their study of the French language and French linguistics. The dedicated and creative instructors and scholars in our department share a commitment to excellence in teaching, whether it be in a first-year French class, a specialized course for majors (all of which are taught in French), a course on French literature in translation, or an advanced graduate seminar.

For its majors, minors, and graduate students, the Berkeley French Department offers a wide range of opportunities to study French and francophone literature, culture, and myriad related fields and topics — from literary history and theory to philosophy; from social and cultural theory to the study of gender and sexuality, historiography, visual arts and film, music, popular culture, and politics. We encourage independent and innovative thinking and research at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

We participate fully in the interdisciplinary emphasis that has traditionally distinguished study and research at Berkeley. Many of our faculty are affiliated with other programs in the University (with the Departments of Comparative Literature, Italian Studies, and Linguistics; with programs in Romance Languages and Literatures and in Medieval Studies; with graduate Designated Emphases in Critical Theory, Film Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and Renaissance and Early Modern Studies; and with the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture). Graduate students typically count courses from other disciplines toward completion of their degree. We maintain close ties with scholars and writers in France, across North America, and around the world, and have a regular schedule of lectures and colloquia open to our students and colleagues, as well as to the public at large. Most years the Department welcomes a Pajus Distinguished Visitor in French Studies, who gives a series of public lectures. The Department also regularly hosts international conferences.

Study Abroad

There are numerous opportunities for education abroad at all stages of our program. For those wishing to take their first steps, our Summer Study Abroad Program offers an exciting and rigorous program that takes language students to Paris for six weeks and currently offers instruction in Elementary French (1), Intermediate and Advanced French conversation (13 and 14), and French History and Culture (43A). Undergraduates with a love of French typically participate in the University of California Education Abroad Program, which offers summer-, semester-, and year-long programs in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Reims, and Strasbourg, France; Geneva, Switzerland; Montreal, Canada; and Brussels, Belgium. Opportunities to do local and international internships in French are available to advanced students of French and are ideal for students wishing to use their French professionally. At the graduate level, the department has two yearly exchange programs with the Ecole Normale Supérieure and with the Institut d’Anglais at the Université Paris Diderot (Paris VII).


The UC Berkeley Library collects materials in all areas of French literature, including literary criticism, philosophy, and theory. The library maintains a strong collection in all divisions of French literature, from the medieval period to the present. The library also collects in the area of Francophone studies, including, but not limited to, material about Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, and French-speaking Europe, as well as French-language dictionaries and other language reference material. The French collection is limited to materials primarily published in France. Materials on French subjects published outside France are listed with their respective provenance. For further information regarding these resources, see the French Studies collection page.

The Library of French Thought is located in 4229 Dwinelle Hall. The collection contains close to 8,000 volumes (including DVDs), approximately 150 journal titles, magazines, maps, slides, and other ephemera. Subjects such as linguistics, criticism, theatre, and philosophy are well represented. Our vast literature holdings cover the entire history of French writing from the earliest chansons to the New Novel to contemporary fiction and poetry. New items are being added to the collection on a monthly basis. There are many delights waiting to be uncovered in the stacks; please feel free to come in and browse at your leisure.

Undergraduate Programs

French: BA, Minor

Graduate Program

French: PhD
Romance Languages and Literatures (French): PhD (offered by the Graduate Group in Romance Languages and Literatures)

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Contact Information

Department of French

4125 Dwinelle Hall

Fax: 510-642-8852

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Department Chair

Rick Kern

4123 Dwinelle Hall

Department Manager

Lydia Yoon

4205 Dwinelle Hall

Faculty Undergraduate Advisor

Nicholas Paige

4212 Dwinelle Hall

Undergraduate Major Advisor

Nina Rennert Cohen, MA

4118 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-1202

Head Graduate Advisor

Mairi McLaughlin

4224 Dwinelle Hall

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Evan Faidley

4207 Dwinelle Hall

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