Why study French?

Whether your interest is global or local, the program of French and Francophone Studies at Notre Dame provides an entrée into research and scholarship on language, culture, politics, economics, migration, gender, public health, and faith, among other areas of concentration. Study French at Notre Dame, and you can do anything. We offer a major, supplementary major, or minor in French.

French is spoken regularly by close to 275 million people worldwide. And it is an official working language of the United Nations, UNESCO, the International Monetary Fund, the International Olympic Committee, the Council of Europe, and the European Commission.

French and Francophone literature, theater, and film still have the capacity to captivate, and the legacy of French philosophers, literary theorists, and social scientists continues to influence and shape most other disciplines in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.

A Group Of Students Studying Abroad In France

French at Notre Dame: A Rich Past and a Global Future

On November 26, 1842, Rev. Édouard Frédéric Sorin, C.S.C., arrived in northern Indiana at the Catholic mission known as Notre-Dame-du-Lac (Our Lady of the Lake), where he would found the University of the same name. French has been spoken, written, contemplated, and prayed on this campus ever since that cold November day over 175 years ago.

This tradition of the study of French has been a constant presence at Notre Dame, but the opportunities available to those who wish to deepen their knowledge of the many forms of French and Francophone cultures extend far beyond the borders of our campus. While to study French at Notre Dame means to participate in a unique and profound way in the history and heritage of the University, to study French at Notre Dame also means to participate in a literary and cultural heritage that is truly global.


You can choose to complete a Major, Supplementary Major, and Minor in French. Even if you do not plan to specialize in French and Francophone Studies, you can take advantage of courses that are cross-listed in Medieval Studies, Gender Studies, European Studies, Peace Studies, and Film, Television, and Theatre, as well as courses that enable you to fulfill University and College requirements, and courses that meet the following Core requirements: Advanced Language and Culture, Catholicism and the Disciplines, History, Art and Literature.

You may have heard about multidisciplinary approaches as an aspiration in other programs, but in French and Francophone Studies, they are a way of life. Our courses not only offer an opportunity to perfect your speaking and writing skills in French, but they also inspire you to integrate your study of history, politics, public policy, or media into your French specialization.

Many paths toward a specialization in French are open to you, and while all of them require a focus on the French-language tradition, their strength lies in how well they connect with other programs in the College of Arts and Letters and across the University.

See the full list of requirements

Student Opportunities

Cercle Francais Crepe Night
Cercle Français students learn to make crêpes

As a student in French and Francophone Studies, you will serve as an ambassador for research and scholarship in the field.

Our faculty and students actively engage with multiple institutes and centers across the University. Our connections with the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and the Medieval Institute, our engagement with Film, Television, and Theatre, and our focus on bringing world-class scholars and authors to Notre Dame or into conversation at international conferences planned by our faculty constitute just a few examples of the ways in which you would engage the campus and the world as a student in French and Francophone Studies. Specific opportunities include:

  • Study Abroad in Angers or Paris (whether for a semester, a whole year, or an intensive summer program)
  • Work with a faculty member to apply for Nanovic Institute Research Grants
  • Write a senior thesis or a complete a capstone project
  • Participate in the Sorin Translation Project
  • Become a member of Pi Delta Phi, the National French Honor Society
  • Attend regular film screenings in French at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center
  • Sign up for Le Cercle français and find out about social and cultural events
  • Join us for a monthly Café français to eat French pastries and converse in French
  • Practice your language skills at the French Table at South Dining Hall
  • Attend French Mass in Malloy Hall

All student opportunities

Learn more

For more information contact Claire Reising Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies in French, or any faculty member in French.