French Studies


Visiting Assistant Professor
Genevieve Oliveira, Ph.D.
University at Buffalo, SUNY

Veronique Martin, Ph.D.
University at Albany

Professors Emeritae
Cynthia A. Fox, Ph.D., O'Leary Professor
Indiana University, Bloomington
Mary Beth Winn, Ph.D., O'Leary Professor
Yale University

Adjuncts (estimated): 3

French Studies offers a range of courses in language, literature, civilization, mass media, Francophone studies, and French cinema as well as in business French. The program combines innovative and traditional approaches leading to teaching, international trade, graduate work or other career objectives. A minor in French is available; many students also opt to combine advanced coursework in French with work in a related field to create their own interdisciplinary major.

Courses of general interest, given in English and requiring no knowledge of French, are also regularly scheduled.

Students of French Studies enter careers in teaching, government service, translating, editing, interpreting, library science, international business, law, healthcare, computer-related technologies, Foreign Service, and international organizations. Along with English, French is the official working language of the United Nations, The International Red Cross, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Any field of work that requires a broad liberal education, linguistic skill and knowledge of French-speaking cultures will offer job opportunities. Combinations with particularly strong employment potential are French Studies and economics, political science and business.

Special Programs and Opportunities
The University maintains summer, semester and year-long exchange programs in France with the University of Montpellier, a program which provides students an opportunity to study French language at any level (no language prerequisite), literature and culture as well as business and economics in either French or English. An array of programs are available for study elsewhere in France, Quebec and other French-speaking parts of the world. The Center for International Education and Global Strategy’s Education Abroad Office provides students with guidance in choosing the right program; faculty are also happy to provide informal advisement on study abroad options.

Opportunities to use French and to exchange ideas outside of class are provided through Le Cercle français (the French Club) and La Pause café (an informal conversation group). For contact information and meeting times: We also offer lecture and film series and other activities.

The Paris Chamber of Commerce Exam: The French Studies Program trains students to take both the written and oral parts of an international exam offered by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry (the Diplôme de français professional-niveau A2). Recipients of the diploma enhance their employment potential in international business and management. If questions, contact Veronique Martin ([email protected]).

Language Placement: How do I know what level French is for me?
Students wishing to enroll in French for the first time at the University at Albany should enroll in French 101 if they have never studied French before. Students should use the following guidelines in selecting the appropriate course. Please note that students taking a lower level course after having completed a course at a higher level will not receive graduation credit for that course.

  • A FRE 101 Students who have no previous experience with French or whose experience is the equivalent of less than one year of high school level French.
  • A FRE 102 Students who have completed one year of high school level French or its equivalent.
  • A FRE 221 Students who have completed two years of high school level French or its equivalent.
  • A FRE 222 Students who have completed three years of high school level French or its equivalent. These students should see the French Undergraduate Advisor to discuss the possibility of a minor or other advanced studies in French.
  • A FRE 301 Students who have completed four years of high school level French or its equivalent. These students should see the French Undergraduate Advisor to discuss the possibility of a minor or other advanced studies in French.


  1. Students may elect to enroll one level higher or lower than the level suggested by the above guidelines. Factors which could be taken into consideration in making this decision are: the length of time which has elapsed since last formal study of French; additional travel or home experience with the language; quality of previous program of study; grades earned (overall performance) in previous study. Note, however, that the Language Placement rules of the Undergraduate Bulletin state that A FRE 101 may not be taken for credit by students who have taken three years of high school French or passed the Regents examination within the last five years.
  2. Students who wish to be placed more than one level higher or lower than the placement suggested by these guidelines must have written permission from the Undergraduate Advisor (Professor Genevieve Oliveira, [email protected]).
  3. Students who have completed A FRE 221 through the University in High School Program should enroll in A FRE 222; students who have completed A FRE 222 should enroll in A FRE 301.
  4. Students who have received Advanced Placement (AP) credit should see the Undergraduate Advisor to discuss their program of study.
  5. Students whose experience with French has not been primarily through organized study in an American high school setting should consult with the Undergraduate Advisor or the French Undergraduate Advisor for help in selecting an appropriate class.

Students are strongly encouraged to see the Undergraduate Advisor if they feel they are in the wrong class or if they have any questions about placement. Decisions to change courses should be made no later than the second week of classes.

The Student-Initiated Interdisciplinary Major in French Studies*

Students wishing to go beyond the undergraduate minor in French Studies may propose their own Interdisciplinary Major by blending courses from the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and other academic departments on campus. Many departments on campus offer courses relevant to France and the Francophone world, including (but not limited to) Africana Studies, Anthropology, Art, English, History, Latin American, Caribbean & U.S. Latino Studies, Linguistics, Music, Philosophy, Political Science and Women’s Studies. See the guidelines for the Student-Initiated Interdisciplinary Major:

The Interdisciplinary Major must consist of at least 36 but not more than 66 credits. If the major includes fewer than 54 credits, the student will need a separate minor to meet graduation requirements. If the major includes 54 or more credits, the student will not need to declare a separate minor.

At least half of the total credits in the Interdisciplinary Major must be at the 300 level or above. Up to 25% of the credits earned toward the Interdisciplinary Major may take the form of independent study courses.

The Interdisciplinary Major must have at least two faculty sponsors, one primary and one secondary, with the primary sponsor serving as the student’s major advisor. The two sponsors must be faculty members of academic rank (i.e. Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor) and must come from two different academic departments offering courses included in the proposed major.

Formal application to initiate an Interdisciplinary Major must be made through the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education located in Lecture Center 30 (518-442-3950). In order to apply, a student must have already completed at least 30 general credits toward graduation. Proposals will be reviewed by the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee of the Undergraduate Academic Council. For further information and advising, please contact the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (Humanities 235, phone 518-442-4100).

Teacher Education Program
To obtain teacher certification students must combine French credits with an M.A. in Education, according to New York State Education Department regulations for teacher certification. Students interested in teaching as a profession should contact the Pathways Into Education (PIE) Center at [email protected], 518-442-3529.