Learning Abroad for French Majors

"Studying abroad is essential for any student seeking a deep and nuanced understanding of a language and culture other than her own. It is a joyous, exhilarating, and genuinely life-changing experience for which there is no substitute. It is much harder, later in life, to have such a rich intellectual and personal adventure. And until recently, it has been a uniquely American thing to do. It was only in the past few years that European universities have recognized the value of study abroad and set up their own, similar programs, such as the EU's Erasmus." —Catherine LeGouis

Study Abroad In France and Francophone Countries

For a list of where past and present majors have studied and a summary of the courses that they took abroad, check this searchable database. Note that this is not a definitive list of what is possible and should serve only as a useful guide and planning resource. The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives Study Abroad website is also an excellent resource for programs, application procedures, deadlines, financial aid, and more. Laurel Fellowships (need-based financial aid) are readily available to qualified students.

Where to Study
Mount Holyoke College has its own study abroad program in Montpellier, France, and is also affiliated with the Sweet Briar College Junior Year in France Program. Study Abroad in France or in a Francophone country is open to both majors and non-majors. Students are encouraged to have successfully completed at least one 4-credit course each semester they are enrolled at Mount Holyoke prior to their departure for study abroad (excluding independent study).  It is particularly desirable for a student to be enrolled in a 4-credit French course the semester immediately preceding the semester or year abroad.  Students should also have completed at least one course in culture and literature at the 200 level (215, 219, 225, or 230).  

  • Please consult the French department and the Center for Global Initiatives for details about these and other programs.
  • Eligible students who are selected to participate in the Montpellier program may use their Mount Holyoke financial aid to do so.
  • Mount Holyoke financial aid for Sweet Briar, as well as for other approved study abroad programs, is awarded on a competitive basis.
  • Scholarships, specifically for study in France or Italy, are available to qualified undergraduates from the Mary Vance Young Scholarship Fund.
  • Information about financing study abroad may be obtained from the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.

When to Study
Study abroad during the junior year is encouraged.

Credit Transfer
French minors may bring back the equivalent of one 4-credit course at the 300 level to be used toward their minor. French majors may bring back two 4-credit 300-level courses, in addition to the advanced language work required for the major (a phonetics course and a course focused on written French). Many other departments and programs grant transfer credit to be used toward a major or minor for coursework done in France as well. Please consult directly with the chair of the relevant department or program for details.

  • French majors who spend a full year/two semesters abroad are allowed to bring back a maximum of three courses (12 credits), in addition to the required 4 credits’ worth of advanced language coursework, for a total of 16 credits maximum toward the major.
  • French majors who spend only one semester abroad are allowed to bring back a maximum of two courses (8 credits), in addition to the required 4 credits of advanced language coursework, for a total of 12 credits maximum toward the major.
  • French minors who spend a full year/two semesters abroad are allowed to bring back a maximum of two courses, for a total of 8 credits maximum toward the minor.
  • French minors who spend only one semester abroad are allowed to bring back a maximum of one course, for a total of 4 credits maximum toward the minor.

Summer Internships and Research Abroad

French majors are encouraged to pursue a summer internship or research project since it allows them to apply and develop their skills and explore possible career paths while engaging with cultures and perspectives outside the United States. The Mount Holyoke College International Internship Program typically offers a number of funded summer opportunities in Francophone countries. 

  • Funding is available through the Lynk Universal Application Form (UAF). For more details about internship opportunities and funding, please contact Kirk Lange, Director of International Experiential learning at the McCulloch Center.  

Next Steps

Students interested in exploring possibilities for learning abroad are encouraged to contact the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. April Stroud is the primary advisor for study abroad, and Kirk Lange can offer guidance on internships or research abroad. Students should also consult with their advisor about how they can best connect and integrate learning abroad with their work in the major.