University of South Carolina

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French: What to Expect

As a French major at the University of South Carolina, you will get the traditional benefits of a liberal arts education in the context of intensive study of the language, literature, and culture of France and the French-speaking world. You will work with dedicated scholars who offer innovative, interdisciplinary courses to help you develop basic and advanced skills. You will learn to communicate in French, understand and interpret written and spoken French, present information and communicate ideas to an audience of listeners or readers, engage in conversations, and exchange opinions. The skills you develop as a French major extend beyond the classroom. You will be able to learn collaboratively with students in France, perform in a French play, debate the latest French online news, review films from Africa, explore current trends in children’s literature, study abroad in France, or study Business French!

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts with a major in French:

  • Reading French Texts
  • Advanced Oral Communication
  • French Composition

On average, there is a 20 to 1 student-faculty ratio in major-specific courses. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. The French program offers established study abroad programs in Tours, France and Mulhouse, France. You may also choose to study in other French cities including Paris, Grenoble, Morocco, or Quebec. While abroad, you will take courses in French languages, literature, and culture. By living with French students or French families, you will be able to experience first hand the culture of the host country. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. As a French major, you may choose to join the French Club or get involved in Pi Delta Phi to meet new people, gain leadership experience, and network within your major. You can also find other student organizations on campus that interest you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. French majors often pursue Ph.D. programs in French or attend medical school or law school.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. As a French major, you will have the opportunity to compete for a variety of scholarships. These include the Amy Millstone French Scholarship, French Alumni Scholarship, French Literature Award, Outstanding French Major Award, Hardee-Belasco French Studies Scholarship, and more! The Department of Language, Literatures & Cultures offers additional scholarships each year for French majors.
Associated Learning Communities are an integral part of the university experience, providing you with the opportunity to live in an environment that promotes diversity, embraces excellence, encourages insightful faculty-student interaction and works to develop a strong sense of community. These academically themed communities also emphasize active service-learning experiences, study-abroad opportunities and undergraduate research. Upper-classmen may choose to apply to live in the French House. The French House provides a cultural immersion experience for upper-class students who are language majors or minors, have an interest in the country’s culture, or are native speakers. Students can come and speak French in a laid-back environment!

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Students in the Undergraduate Foreign Language Teacher Certification Program in French get hands-on experience through supervised teacher-training.

Student Spotlight

From her sophomore to senior year, Christen Green interned as the Activities Director of the French House on campus. Her internship gave her the opportunity to be immersed in the French language on a daily basis while at the University. Her responsibilities included planning cultural and linguistic events, creating opportunities for residents to interact with professors outside of the classroom, and tutoring students in French. Her internship helped her apply what she learned in the classroom. “I learned the importance of supplementing what you learn in the classroom with real life experience in all fields of study, especially linguistic and cultural,” Christen said. For Christen, the support of her professors was instrumental in helping prepare her for her internship position.  “I had the endless support of the professors in my department all three years,” she said. “Anytime I needed advice or assistance, all I had to do was send one of them a quick e-mail or pop by their office. Without their support, I know the French House would not have been as successful as it was.” Christen believes it is important to communicate regularly in French to help improve your skills and the French House at USC offers just that! “Having a place to converse casually in French helped me to maintain a level of fluency that would not have been possible otherwise.”

Career Opportunities

French majors have a wide variety of career options following graduation. Many graduates pursue teaching careers, although others have become lawyers, physicians, or government employees. French majors also may choose a career in diplomatic service or international business. Over 1,200 French companies in the United States employ nearly half a million Americans. French is an official language and a working language of the Olympic Games, the European Union, the United Nations, the International Labor Bureau, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Read Cross. Knowing the French language can be key to landing a great career and moving ahead in your career!

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

Alumni Spotlight

Wendy Stephens communicates in French on a weekly basis. However, the 2007 graduate and French major didn’t have to travel far to put the skills she learned at USC to use. Wendy is a French teacher at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C. In addition to teaching three sections of French per semester, Wendy sponsors the National French Honor Society and Café français, two student organizations at Spring Valley High School that meet during lunch.  For Wendy, the most exciting part of her job is her enthusiastic students. “The most exciting part of teaching French is having a student in your class who loves the language, takes learning outside of the classroom, and enthusiastically shares what they have discovered with me, their teacher,” she said. Wendy especially enjoys watching her students go on to pursue French after graduation. “It brings joy to my heart to hear from my students and know that they are still pursuing their French studies, regardless of their majors.”

Wendy said USC was key to helping her prepare for her current career as a French teacher and encourages her students to attend USC. She said that the French faculty especially made an impact on her education while at the University. “The most meaningful inspiration I received came from the dedicated French teachers and professors under whom I was privileged to study,” she said.  Wendy encourages current French majors to not only seek out relationships with other students, but to also seek out counsel from graduate students and professors. Additionally, she would recommend that all French majors study abroad. “Study abroad,” she said. “The University offers fantastic study abroad options that will be invaluable to your development as a language learner.”

About the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of South Carolina focuses on the teaching of foreign languages, their associated literatures, and global culture. Students learn from native speakers, benefit from innovative web based programs where they interact directly with their peers in other countries, and study with professors who have written the books they use in courses. The department offers undergraduate majors in Classics, Comparative Literature, French, German, Russian, and Spanish. The Undergraduate Foreign Language Teaching Certification Program is also offered in French, German, Latin and Spanish. The department is home to internationally known scholars in language acquisition, children’s literature, Chinese, Classics, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic. The Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is one of the largest and most active in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Points of Pride

  • The Comparative Literature faculty is ranked 10th in the nation in research productivity.
  • The department is home of the Confucius Institute, a center for the study and teaching of Chinese language and culture affiliated with the Beijing Language Cultural University.
  • Russian major William Brown was recently award a prestigious Boren Scholarship.
  • Professor Nicholas Vazsonyi in German is an internationally renowned Wagner scholar who has lectured at the Kennedy Center and whose recent book was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.

Additional Resources
Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Website
College of Arts and Sciences Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin