French: Major or Minor

French Club enjoys poutine on Hertel Ave, Buffalo.

French Club outing at the Poutine and Cream on Hertel Ave, Buffalo.  November 2021.

Why Study French?

French, the language of diplomacy, is the second most widely taught language in Europe, just after English, and the sixth most widely spoken language in the world. An extensive shared vocabulary makes French one of the easiest second languages for English speakers to learn, and learning French provides a great head-start to students who want to learn a second Romance language, such as Spanish or Italian, or Kreyol.  

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Degree Requirements

The French undergraduate tracks cover a wide range of disciplines and historical periods while providing linguistic proficiency and cultural fluency. Students gain breadth and depth of knowledge in French and Francophone World Studies as they earn credits necessary for fulfilling a major, a joint major or a minor.

Academic Advisement (FR 200+)

French concentration requirements and options

The French major, joint major, and minor all have the same lower-division requirements:
  •   6 credits of lower-division coursework: any two of FR 211, FR 212, or FR 213, taken in any order or concurrently, followed by one of these three paths:

The major (BA) - 36 credits (regular or double majors; for double degrees, see box below):

  •   30 credits of upper-divison coursework: 10 courses, of which 4 must meet breadth requirement.**

The Joint Major (BA) - 27 credits (coordinated with a joint major in a related BA program):

  • 21 credits of upper-divison coursework: 7 courses, of which 3 must meet breadth requirement.**

The Minor-18 credits (may be combined with all BA programs and most others such as BS, BArch):

  • 12 credits of upper division coursework:4 courses, of which 2 must meet breadth requirement.**

**French majors must complete four breadth requirements, joint majors must complete any three of the four, and minors any two. The breadth requirements are:

·         Earlier literature (e.g., FR 301, 305, 331, 362)

·         Linguistic focus (e.g., FR 343, 345, 404)

·         Francophone literature (e.g., FR 338, 368, 453, 475)

·         Non-literary cultural production (e.g., FR 328, 341, 355, 369)

NB: In all courses taken for a French concentration, letter grades are required (not S/U).


Students pursuing a BS degree in Engineering, Management, or Biology, for example, or a professional degree such as the BArch in Architecture or BFA in Fine Arts, may simultaneously pursue a second major in French. Since French leads to a BA degree, students who choose this option are technically earning a double degree, not a double major. The double degree option requires a minimum of 150 total credit hours, and the precise number for the proposed combination must be carefully confirmed in the Undergraduate Catalog.


Residency Requirement

The department requires that at least 50% of credits necessary for a major, joint major or minor degree in French be completed on a local UB campus. The remaining 50% may be fulfilled through any combination of study abroad coursework, transfer courses, placement exams or other pre-approved credit-earning opportunities.


Acceptance into the major, joint major, or minor degree in French requires satisfactory completion of prerequisites through FR 152 or equivalent work, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Acceptance also requires a minimum overall GPA of 2.0.

If prerequisites are not fulfilled through departmental coursework, or if UB credit has not been articulated for qualified non-UB prerequisite work, an RLL faculty advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies may advise and, when necessary, determine satisfaction as well as coursework levels suited to the students’ linguistic abilities.

Students who are heritage or first speakers of French must meet with an RLL faculty advisor before enrolling in any French courses to determine an appropriate level of study.

The following is a guide for completing prerequisites in the department, and shows how previous instruction may help fulfill them. RLL faculty advisors or the Director of Undergraduate Studies can assist with any questions.

No Prior French Instruction Average Preparation
(~ 2 years)
Intermediate Preparation
(~ 4 years)
Advanced Preparation
(~ 6+ years)
FR 101 (5 credits) FR 104 (5 credits) FR 151 (3 credits) No courses required
FR 102 (5 credits) FR 151 (3 credits) FR 152 (3 credits)  
FR 151 (3 credits) FR 152 (3 credits)    
FR 152 (3 credits)      

Completing Required Credits

There are several ways for students to fulfill required credits for the major, joint major or minor: 

Departmental Coursework (as detailed above)

  • Course levels should ordinarily be completed in sequence: Foundational 200-level courses should be successfully completed before advanced courses at the 300- and 400-levels (unless an RLL faculty advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies advises otherwise).
  • Occasionally (and by prior written permission from the Director of Undergraduate Studies), students may obtain exceptions, such as substitution of advanced courses for foundational courses, or credit for an internship or a course taken in another department toward one advanced elective course.
Study Abroad
  • RLL faculty advisement on program and course selection is required prior to intended participation for students who wish to count study abroad courses toward their major or minor. For further information, visit the Office of Study Abroad or see Study Abroad with RLL.

AP or Similar Credit

  • Advanced standing and university credit may be awarded to students who complete college-level work in high school. UB awards credit based on AP exam scores, IB exam scores for certificates and diplomas, GCE exam scores and CLEP exam scores. Visit University Admissions for more information.

Transfer Coursework

  • Some course articulations are available on the TAURUS website.  French faculty advisors will review syllabi upon request.

Other Opportunities

  • Including internships, guided creative or research activity, or independent study, all of which require approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. 

Please Note: For all study abroad, transfer courses and/or AP or similar credit, the department’s residency requirement (see above) always applies.

How to Apply

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