Undergraduate Programs in French

Whether starting out in French 101 or sitting next to a native speaker in a 400-level literature course, our students build their proficiency in French while exploring the far corners of French and Francophone literature, culture, geography, film, current events, and professional life.  The diversity of our course offerings combines with a diversity of student experience–including both pre- and post-study-abroad students, nontraditional professionals, graduate students from other departments, and class visitors–to create a rich set of possibilities for all those interested in moving farther in this important world language.

Skills & Strengths of a Liberal Arts Major

STEM is Missing an Important Subject: Languages

We Need more STEM Majors with Liberal Arts Training

Major in the Humanities for a Good Job – and for a Good Life

Benefits of Multilingualism 

For a Better Brain, Learn a Foreign Language

Bilinguals are More Attractive

 Benefits of Language Learning 

Language learning supports academic achievement, provides cognitive benefits, and affects attitudes about language and culture

Language Study as a National Imperative

 Some Figures about French

  • French is the 2nd most useful language for business after English. The top three are Mandarin, French, then Arabic. (Bloomberg)
  • The number of French speakers in the world has tripled over the last fifty years, up 25% since 2010 from about 220 million in 2010 to 274 million in 2014, equal to 90% of the US population. (Reuters)
  • French ist the fifth most widely spoken language in the world
  • There are over 100 million students in the world learning French right now.
  • French is the official language of 33 countries and widely spoken in at least 10 more.
  • French and English are the only two languages spoken on 5 continents.
  • French is 1 of 6 official languages of the United Nations.
  • Over 1,200 French companies in the United States employ 500,000 Americans.
  • French is one of the official languages of many international organizations: the UN, UNESCO, NATO, the EU, the Olympics.
  • French is required or preferred by over 50% of international jobs listed by the U.S. State Department.
  • French is the second most frequently taught foreign language in the United States.
  • France has won more Nobel Prizes for literature than any other country.
  • Canada is the largest trading partner of the United States and Montreal is the second largest francophone city in the world after Paris.
  • France is a world leader in science and technology. The Human Genome Project is located in Paris; U.S. Coast Guard helicopters are made by Aérospatiale, Airbus is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of airplanes; and we have these recent inventions thanks to the French: the “smart card”, the Minitel (the precursor to email and the Internet), HDTV, high-speed rail, and more!

If you have previous experience in a world language and want to continue learning it, please see the placement page on the Languages at UW-Madison website.


All incoming UW-Madison students are encouraged to take the placement test for language(s) studied in high school or elsewhere.  UW placement tests are available in French at Regional Testing sites and ACT Testing Centers. For information on registering for placement testing, see the SOAR website and the Testing and Evaluation Services website. Students may be eligible to receive retroactive credits, depending on which level of French they place into (see below). Additionally, students who took the AP French Exam and received a score of 3 or higher will be awarded college credit (see below).

Placement in French language courses 101-228 is determined by the UW System French Placement test or in consultation with the Department or SOAR World Language Consultant.


If you get this, you should register for this:

Placement Score*             Course
0-400                                       French 101
401-475                                    French 102
476-560                                   French 203
561-690                                    French 204
691-800                                   French 227
801-850                                   Contact Mandi Schoville
* Please note, if your score is on the lower end or the higher end of the range (eg, you receive a 474), please contact Mandi Schoville, Undergraduate Advisor and Program Coordinator, to confirm which course is best for you.


Students enrolled in 102, 203, 204, 227, 228, 271, or 311 are eligible for retro credits. Consult complete retrocredit policy for more information.

Course Taken              Retro Credits
102                                                4
203                                                8
204                                               12
227                                               16
228                                              16
271                                               16
311                                               16
312                                               16


College credit will be awarded to students who receive a 3, 4, or 5 on their AP French Exam.*  More information can be found here.

Test                                  Score                                                Credit/Course Equivalent                               
Language                                3                                                                     4 cr. 203
                                                  4                                                                     4 cr. 204
                                                  5                                                                     3 cr. 228
*Above course equivalents for AP testing are only valid for tests that occurred on 12/21/2020 and after. For all testing that took place prior to that date, contact Mandi Schoville, Undergraduate Advisor and Program Coordinator.


For questions regarding Foreign Credit Evaluation, contact both Ewa Miernowska and Mandi Schoville.

Our Undergraduate Certificate in French offers students specializing in all kinds of fields a recognized credential for their work in French and their knowledge of literature and culture in the French-speaking world, thereby complementing their major in other subjects. This flexible, 15-credit program also strengthens the applications of students who intend to pursue careers or graduate study in areas where French is useful.  The Certificate is open to all undergraduate students.

For information on requirements for the French Certificate, please refer to the Undergraduate Guide

To declare the certificate, please complete the FRENCH CERTIFICATE DECLARATION FORM and return it to Mandi Schoville, Undergraduate Advisor and Program Coordinator.

Major Requirements

For information on requirements for the French major, please refer to the Undergraduate Guide.

Students in the School of Education may declare a French major through their school or through Letters & Science. For more information on the French Education Program, please refer to the Undergraduate Guide.


Having completed an undergraduate major in French, you will be able to:


  • Demonstrate understanding and ability to analyze literary and non-literary texts in French representing a broad spectrum of topics, time periods, and geographical regions
  • Express yourself effectively in spoken and written French to inform, persuade, and narrate for different audiences of listeners, viewers, or readers
  • Express yourself effectively in spoken and written French to share information, reactions, and opinions related to a broad spectrum of topics and texts


  • Recognize and explain cultural artifacts, practices, and perspectives of the French-speaking world including how these cultural elements relate to literary and non-literary texts in French
  • Demonstrate a good degree of understanding of lexical, grammatical, syntactic, and stylistic features of the French language


  • Demonstrate awareness of difference and diversity by comparing and contrasting culturally situated  beliefs, behaviors, and norms of the French-speaking world with your own
  • Engage in a sustained fashion with the French language, its users, and cultural artifacts in and beyond the classroom, e.g., in your own community, virtual communities, and study abroad

How to Declare

To declare the major, please complete the MAJOR DECLARATION FORM and return it to Mandi Schoville, Undergraduate Advisor and Program Coordinator.

Students in the School of Education may declare a French major or minor through their school or through Letters & Science.

For more information, contact the World Language Education Program.

About Honors and variable credit courses

Click here for L&S Undergraduate Catalogue information about Honors  – General.

Taking a class for honors  

A student can choose to register for a course for honors credit. Students taking a course for honors will be required to do extra work as described below for each particular course. Students taking a class for honors should contact the professor/instructor as soon as possible at the very beginning of the semester (or before) to begin organizing the honors curriculum for the semester.

Who needs permission to take a class for honors, or to register for a designated honors section?

Students in the L&S Honors Program do not need permission to take a class for honors or to register for a designated honors section. Please note that students in the L&S Honors Program must take a minimum number of credits in designated honors sections. More information available here.

Students not in the L&S Honors can obtain permission for their current instructor, the instructor for the course they intend to take, or an advisor in French.

What about variable credit courses?

French 228 and 271 are offered for 3 or 4 credits.  The 4th credit is not required and can be added or removed normally up to the second week of class.The content of the 4th credit varies depending upon the instructor’s and the students’ interests. In general, this extra meeting allows students more contact with the instructor in a small group environment, more weekly interaction in French, greater research into the subject matter, and often the opportunity to develop ones own personal interests with relation to the subject. For more information, see French 227 and 228 below.

4th Credit Students: A program of extra reading and other assignments given in conjunction with approximately seven extra class meetings (known a discussion sections) which students are required to attend on top of the regular weekly 3-credit lecture sections. Depending on the instructor, these seven extra meetings may take place every other week, or they may be clustered in successive weeks at selected points in the semester.

French 101 and 102: A student who wants to do the Honors option will meet with the TA to discuss projects to do in addition to the normal 101 or 102 homework and activities. The student must do four (4) additional activities. Possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Lunch, dinner, or other activity at the French House
  • Watching a French movie (in French; English subtitles are ok) – these can be found through the LSS learning lab, 4-Star video, or elsewhere.
  • Following the news or weather on TV5 for a week
  • Some other event involving the French language; use your best judgment to determine what would be appropriate.

French 203: The requirements for a student taking French 203 for honors will vary on a case by case basis. They are determined in consultation with the student, the instructor, and the course chair. Options for completing the requirements for taking French 203 for honors include (but are not limited to):

  • a research project wherein the instructor and the student will determine a focus. The instructor will determine a timeline to include a formal proposal, outline, and 5-page paper and/or 5-minute presentation to the class.
  • a 3-4 short 2-page reaction papers, or
  • 3-4 in class presentations based on films, current events, news items, or a theme to be worked out between the student and the instructor.

French 204: Two options are available for additional writing assignments, to be determined in consultation with the instructor

  • A directed independent research project (6-8 pages). Students will consult with their instructors at least three times during the semester to define their topics and discuss their research. The description of the project will be due by the 4th week of class and the project will be due by the end of the semester
  • 4 analytical essays (2 pages each) based on French/ Francophone movies, with emphasis on cultural content. Students will consult with their instructors to choose their movies.

French 227: Students wishing to take 227 for honors should first speak with their instructor.

French 228: In addition to the regular course requirements, student must do 4 additional activities (essays or/and class presentations), based on movies, current issues, etc., with emphasis on cultural content. Student will consult with the instructor to choose the topics or themes. This extra work is the equivalence of one credit requirements.

French 271: In addition to the regular course requirements, student must do a directed independent research project, designed and carried out by each student in consultation with the instructor. Such projects often include a program of individual meetings with the instructor; occasionally, they also entail group meetings with other students taking the course for 4 credits.

The French Ambassadors of the Department of French and Italian are our Student Advisory Board.  They serve as representative voices of their peers in the French program. The organization exists with the following goals:

  • Provide constructive feedback and input to department faculty and staff on the curricular and co-curricular aspects of the program
  • Offer leadership opportunities to French Ambassadors as they take responsibility for the organization’s operations and success
  • Support the study of French for undergraduates
  • Foster greater connection among current students of French
  • Develop and enhance alumni connections

What is the time commitment? The French Ambassador organization is sensitive to students’ busy schedules.

  • Ambassadors serve for 2 semester minimum (beginning with the start of the Spring semester)
  • Ambassadors attend bi-monthly, 60-minute meetings. Executive Committee members also attend organizational meetings during alternate months.
  • Ambassadors attend a minimum of 2 outside events or participate in 2 activities per semester.

Who is eligible to be a “French Ambassador”? 

  • Anyone who is interested in French language and culture

Members of the Advisory Board must be undergraduate students of French, and meet the following requirements:

  • be a full-time UW-Madison student and a declared French major or French certificate candidate
  • have completed at least 1 semester on campus by the start of his/her term
  • have and maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA overall and in the major or certificate

For more information on the French Advisory Board, please contact the department.

Academic advisors are available to help you:

– Navigate the French language program.

– Learn about majoring or double majoring in French or Italian.

– Choose the best study abroad program(s) for you.

– Explore the possibility of post-undergraduate studies.

– Investigate careers related to the language and your degree.

– Understand Letters & Science degree requirements for graduation.

– Discover resources on campus for additional support.

Before making an appointment with an advisor:

– If you’re just getting started, check out this great Academic and Career Planning Guide.

– It is sometimes very helpful to run a “DARS” report, or a “DARS What-if” if you are considering a major or interested in adding a study abroad program to your udergraduate career. You can run these through your ‘My-UW‘.

– If you are considering study abroad, make sure you research your opportunities at studyabroad.wisc.edu and read this handout on How to Determine Course Equivalents.

Academic Advisor in French 

Contact Mandi Schoville, Undergraduate Advisor and Program Coordinator.

How can I make French work for me? Will I be able to use my French? What careers are open to me?

In 2014, foreign language majors earned the highest starting salary of all liberal arts majors, $46,900, followed by English language and literature letters majors at $42,200.

What’s the Foreign Language Advantage?  You are developing many of the skills and attributes that employers want:

  • You’re a great communicator (you know how to get the point across).
  • You are culturally literate (you work well with others).
  • You’re a critical thinker (you know how to put all the pieces together).
  • You’re a problem solver (you know how to prioritize, compromise and get the job done).
  • You’re a multi-tasker (and you are even better at it than other college graduates). 

Your classroom education and experience already put you in a great position for future success. Yet there are more resources out there that can help you get to where you want to be.

How many of these can you check off your “to do” list?

  • Check out SuccessWorks, a full-service career center specifically for L&S students.
  • Register for Handshake, connecting students and employers.
  • Make an Appointment with a Career Advisor

Letters & Science Career Advisor

Language Institute Advisor

International Internship Advising

  • Consider taking INTER-LS 210: L&S Career Development: Taking Initiative – This one-credit course helps students develop critical skills and knowledge for making future career-related decisions. Designed specifically for L&S students, or those exploring an L&S major, course discussion focuses on leveraging and articulating the value of the liberal arts and science degree. Our goal is to enforce students’ capacity to become leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs in the 21st-centrury workforce. Students are encouraged to take the course in their second-year of college.
  • Seek and Gain Experience (outside the classroom)

Learn What’s French in Madison

Visit the French House for lunches, Wednesday dinners, and other events

Have a coffee at Barriques on Monday nights with fellow francophiles

Find out what the ‘Table Ronde’ is!


International Internships

Morgridge Center for Public Service

Center for Leadership and Involvement  

UW Student Organizations

Study Abroad with UW International Academic Programs

Study Abroad with the School of Business

Study Abroad with International Engineering Studies and Programs

Undergraduate Research

  • Career Exploration (on-line tools)

American Job Center O’Net

Bureau of Labor and Statistics

  • Join Badger Bridge: This professional network is an exclusive place where UW-Madison alumni and students can come together to offer support in achieving career goals and exploring professional opportunities.
  • Career Kickstart : Launched in Fall 2015, Career Kickstart is an academic program that helps residents launch their career and find jobs or internships through special events and workshops. Join returning students and make the next step in your life with access to special events and resources: On-site academic/career advising and related programming; “Back stage access” to employers, alumni, and resources on campus; learn how to land and internshp and get a job; develop your resume, polish your interviewing skills, and more!



UW in Aix-en-Provence

Gain competence with the French language, and knowledge of French culture, history and the arts in Aix-En-Provence. This program is offered by a consortium of Indiana University and UW-Madison. A faculty member from one of the participating U.S. universities serves as the Faculty Director for the academic year and teaches at least one course. The Faculty Director, along with local Assistant Director, assists with all aspects of the program.

UW in Paris

Stroll along the Champs-Elysees while enjoying everything that Paris has to offer in your spring semester abroad! The UW Paris Spring Program will offered through a partnership with the CIEE French and Critical Studies program (FCS). A faculty member from UW Madison serves as the Program Leader each spring. In addition, CIEE will facilitate the transition into Parisian life and help with everyday practical matters.

UW French Language in Morocco

This 4-week summer program in Rabat, Morocco, combines intensive study of French language along with the exploration of the political, cultural, and historical perspectives of Morocco, North Africa, and the French language and culture presence in this country and region.


Brussels, Belgium / CIEE Business, Communications and Culture at Vesalius College

Monpellier, France/  Institut National d’études Supérieures Agronomiques de Montpellier Exchange

Paris, France / CIEE French and Critical Studies in Paris

Paris, France / Institut d’Etudes Politiques Exchange

Tours, France / Institut de Touraine French Language Program

A great option for French Certificate students, this summer program is offered for four weeks or eight weeks and allows students to earn 6 credits or 12 credits, respectively. Prerequisite: First Semester French.

Tunis, Tunisia / SIT Emerging Identities in North Africa


International Internship Program

The International Internship Program (IIP) – an office within the International Division – identifies, cultivates, and promotes high-quality internship opportunities for UW Madison undergraduate students. Cultivated internships are created specifically for UW Madison undergraduates and are those listed in red on IIP’s database; most require enrollment in the Worldwide Internship Program (WIP).

Cultivated internship deadlines: early October for Spring internships; mid-February for Summer or Fall internships.

Worldwide Internship Program

The Worldwide Internship Program (WIP) is a way for UW Madison undergraduates to earn academic credit for an internship abroad. WIP allows you to be continuously enrolled at UW-Madison while interning, in order to maintain access to scholarships, international health insurance, etc. This program is open to students from any major. Students can enroll in WIP if they are participating in an IIP cultivated internship. They can also apply sepaparetly for WIP credit on a student-identified internship.

WIP Application deadlines: early October for Spring internships; early March for Summer or Fall internships

How can I intern in France?

IIP has provided the following steps to help you plan and prepare for your internship in France. More information can be found on their website or in this informational sheet.

1. Identify internship opportunities (databases, advising, or info sessions)

2. Apply: either through IIP database or directly with the organization; apply for credit through IIP

3. Confirm internship with IIP and the organization: complete necessary forms and deposits

4. Complete tri-lateral internship agreement (agreement between the student, UW-Madison and the host organization)

5. Prepare: Apply for a visa, visit UHS Travel Clinic, pick up WIP course reader

*We recommend that you apply early, as this process often takes several months. IIP advising drop-in hours and appointments can be found here.

Past Student Internships


Telelangue (Paris, France)

Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy)


Various ‘office de tourisme’ (France ; Fort Mahon and Epinal)

KUHN Group (France)
International New York Times (France)

Good News International of Rwanda (Rwanda)

Bombardier (Montréal, Canada)

International Organization for Migration (Geneva, Switzerland)

US Dept of State (Italy)


Contact IIP Advisor  – 608-261-1018