Learning Abroad for French Majors

The Department of French strongly encourages majors to study abroad. Study 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).

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, an 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

Where to Study:
The French Department strongly recommends Mount Holyoke’s own programs abroad.  The College offers a program in Montpellier, France, for the full year, or fall or spring semester, and a student exchange for either fall or spring semester with Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (“Sciences Po”).  Eligible students who are selected to participate in the Montpellier program, and for the Sciences Po exchange, are guaranteed Laurel Fellowships (need-based financial aid).  

Mount Holyoke is also affiliated with the Sweet Briar College Junior Year in France Program, and approves study in Senegal with the Wells College program. 

For a list of where past and present French 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.

When to Study:
Most students elect to study in France or a Francophone country in their junior year. The department strongly encourages all majors or potential majors to spend an entire year abroad. Students who choose to study abroad for one semester will find that in some cases, the academic calendar abroad does not coincide with ours (either the fall semester lasts until mid-February, or the year is not divided into semesters at all), meaning that some single-semester programs are available only in the spring.

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 course work done in France as well. Please consult directly with the chair of the relevant department or program for details.

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. Students may develop summer research projects abroad with the support of MHC faculty. Financial support is available through the Universal Application Funding (UAF).

The Mount Holyoke College International Internship Program typically offers a number of funded summer opportunities in Francophone countries. Students also have the option of developing their own summer internship or research project. Support for unpaid opportunities is available through the Universal Application Form (UAF), which offers students access to funding from a variety of College fellowship sources to cover travel and living expenses for the duration of the project. Students with a family contribution of less than $5000 may also receive a $500 grant to apply towards their summer earnings contribution. Both the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and the Career Development Center have student evaluations of past international internships on file.