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What Can You Do With A French Degree

By David Krug 12 minute read

It has been said that the genius of the French language is descended from its single Latin stock and has triumphed most in the other direction – in simplicity, unity, clarity, and restraint.

Isn’t it true that one’s own sense of style is a factor Perhaps it’s unreasonable to declare that one language sounds more beautiful than others, yet it’s hard to argue against the beauty, charm, and sophistication of the French language?

French is often regarded as the language of culture as well as the language of romance. From Jean-Paul Sartre to René Descartes, many of the world’s most renowned poets, painters, philosophers, and writers penned works in French.

French is not only beautiful, but it is also practical. The French language has spread over four continents and ten centuries, making it the world’s sixth most commonly spoken language.

As one of the fastest-growing languages in the world, French is only going to increase in importance.

An estimated 300 million people globally speak French now, and according to a forecast by the investment firm Natixis, this number will rise to 750 million by 2050.

If you’ve fallen in love with French, you may want to explore pursuing a degree in French Language and Culture. 

A French major prepares students for jobs in academics, teaching, and translation, as well as a wider range of vocations, including foreign aid, diplomacy, journalism, hospitality, and the creative arts.

Read our guide, What Can I Do With A Bachelor’s in French? before deciding whether or not you want to pursue a degree in the language and its many careers.

What is the French language?

Yes, we all know what French is, don’t we? Maybe we don’t know that at all. Because of the wide variety of dialects and regional variations within French, it is difficult to pin down exactly what it is that makes this language unique. So, what are the history of the French language and its speakers?

The Romance languages include Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, and Spanish. It is from this daily Latin that all Romance languages are descended.

When King François I took the throne in 1539, he made France’s official language the French dialect that had developed in what is now northern France.

France’s diaspora and colonization have spread the language over the world, where it is today spoken by millions of people. Less than half of the world’s French speakers reside in Europe. 

French is the official language of 29 countries, including:

  • Belgium
  • Cameroon
  • Haiti
  • Burkina Faso
  • Canada
  • Madagascar
  • Luxembourg
  • Switzerland

Because of its widespread use and big population, French is both elegant and functional. Lingua franca is defined as a language that is extensively used to offer a means of communication between speakers of different languages.

When France was in its cultural zenith, French was the language of choice for foreign aristocracy, academic elites, and thinkers. 

It still serves that purpose today. Things have changed considerably in politics since then. French has re-emerged as a lingua franca in Sub-Saharan Africa as a result of the increasing population there.

Although English is the international common tongue, French, according to Forbes, might be the future’s language, given how rapidly Francophone African nations are growing and progressing.

What are the many types of French degrees?

There is no better way to learn the language than via formal education in it. A French degree can be earned at any level, from an associate’s to a doctorate.

Studying French in college will include more than just the language; you’ll learn about French civilization as a whole. 

Aspiring master’s and Ph.D. students should anticipate focusing more on the literature of French than those seeking a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, as they are already believed to be proficient speakers.

In order to distinguish, several French degree programs provide a distinctive combination of subjects. The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a master’s degree in French that incorporates professional internships in foreign industries including vineyards and eco-tourism locations.

Romance Languages and Literature is a major at the University of Michigan that permits students to pursue a double major in two Romance languages (e.g. French or Spanish).

The University of Louisiana at Monroe has a French major that includes Cajun French as an option (a Southeastern US regional dialect).

French majors and minors often combine their studies with one or more electives from other disciplines. A relevant professional field gives individuals the opportunity to utilize their language and cultural competence.

Studies in film studies, art history, politics, global affairs, philosophy, or business are common minors or double majors with a French degree.

What Courses Must I Take to Earn a Degree in French?

Every school has its own curriculum, and many institutions offer classes with the same material but various course titles. However, in general, you may expect to find similar course choices for degrees in French Language and Culture. 

Classes that fall under this category include:

  • 17th and 18th Century French Literature
  • Basic French
  • Contemporary French Culture
  • Advanced Business French
  • Advanced Spoken and Written French
  • Classical and Modern French Poetry
  • Analysis of Literary and Cultural Texts
  • Revolutionary France
  • French African Literature
  • Intermediate French Composition
  • Intermediate French Conversation
  • Modern French Grammar and Syntax

Will I Pursue a French Degree Abroad?

Learning about another culture in person is the greatest way to do it. In a full immersion, you’ll learn the language’s cultural norms, local practices, and fresh views on the world around you. 

Adaptability, resourcefulness, and open-mindedness are all important soft qualities to learn while living overseas.

Being able to show that you can think on your feet and adjust to a new setting, as well as that you have cultural competency and a global attitude, maybe a benefit in professional life.

Seventy-five percent of US undergraduates say they want to study abroad, says the American Council on Education.

Among the most popular countries for foreign students to study abroad, France ranks first, with Paris as the most sought-after study abroad location in France, according to Forbes. 

Studies in the French language and culture make up a significant portion of the students studying abroad in France. Other popular fields of study include art history, philosophy, cinema studies, culinary arts, and theater.

However, not all French degrees necessitate study abroad, just as not all students studying abroad in France are pursuing a French degree. One or more semesters in France in an authorized program is required by several colleges and universities. 

For people with families, jobs, or relationships, studying abroad might be a challenge. As a result, many French universities let degree-seeking students make their own decisions about whether or not to study abroad.

What Can I Do With a Two-Year Degree in French?

A foundation in French language and culture may be laid with an associate’s degree in French. It typically takes two years to finish a full-time 60-credit associate degree program. 

An associate’s degree can stand on its own or be used as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree in the same or a related field.

Following an associate’s degree in French language and culture, students may pursue a bachelor’s degree in French or in a subject requiring proficiency in a foreign language, such as art history, pre-law, business, or film studios.

Having an associate’s degree in French will open the door to entry-level positions where speaking French is advantageous.

Entry-level positions with cruise lines, hotels, import firms, airlines, and the government’s foreign service are all possibilities. An online bachelor’s degree in any one of these subjects can be completed on a part-time basis while you continue to work.

What am I able to do with a Bachelor’s in French?

Most people in the United States have a bachelor’s degree. Full-time study for a bachelor’s degree normally takes four years and entails 120 credits or 40 courses.

It is possible to complete a bachelor’s degree in as little as three years at some institutions.

In order to receive a Bachelor of Arts in French Language and Culture, you must complete a general education prerequisite.

The goal of a bachelor’s degree in the arts is to train students to be critical thinkers with a broad knowledge of the humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, and the social sciences. 

Second- and third-year students will take courses in French literature, history, and culture as well as other courses in the major.

Students in their last year of high school may also be required to submit a senior portfolio to demonstrate their proficiency in French.

Your fluency in French will allow you to work in positions that demand you to communicate effectively in French or translate between the two languages.

To be eligible for careers in international finance, trade, publishing, and diplomacy; as well as in the fields of language translation and teaching.

As a Foreign Exchange Program Officer, you may potentially be interested in teaching English overseas or working with foreign students.

What am I able to do with a Master’s in French?

A bachelor’s degree in French or a comparable liberal arts discipline, such as political science, English, or art history, is required for admission to the master’s program in French language and culture. 

To ensure that you begin the program at the same level of fluency and cultural competency as your colleagues, you’ll need to complete additional preparatory courses if your undergraduate degree is not in French.

Full-time students normally complete a master’s degree in two years, but an Accelerated Master’s Degree can be completed in just 18 months, while a part-time program can take longer to complete.

Translation, language teaching, editing, and interpreting are all possible career paths for someone with a master’s degree in French, but you’ll also qualify for supervisory and management positions.

You’ll also be able to teach French at the primary or secondary school level as an adjunct professor. 

Beyond the classroom, a master’s degree in French can lead to positions such as International Aid Director, Curator, Cultural Interpreter, Sommelier, International Development Worker, and International Business Advisor.

What am I able to do with a doctorate in French?

A Ph.D. in French literature, culture, and the French-speaking world signifies the greatest level of expertise in these fields.

Only 96 French language and literature PhDs were conferred in 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

That means you’ll be a part of a select group of people who have achieved the greatest level of proficiency in French.

To acquire a Ph.D. in French, you’ll need to perform original research into an area of historical or contemporary French Literature that will serve as the foundation for a thorough dissertation.

A thesis adviser will guide you through the research, writing, and defense of your dissertation over a period of 2-7 years. As a result of the rigorous nature of this program, only the most accomplished scholars are given the honorific title of “doctor of philosophy.

You’ll be certified to teach at the university level with a Ph.D. in French language and literature. For these positions, you’ll be required to continue studying, evaluating, and publishing, as well as teaching and mentoring university students in French. 

Taking part in international conferences and directing study abroad programs will certainly be a part of your job responsibilities while you’re overseas.

When guiding American students on a trip overseas, you can also work with students who are natural French speakers who are studying in the US.

Can I Get a French Degree Online?

These days, you can acquire a degree in almost any subject matter online, from archaeology to nursing.

A virtual classroom’s restrictions for hands-on learning may need a compromise between the accessibility of distance education and its constraints such as in labs and fieldwork. 

However, if you pursue a French degree online, your virtual classroom experience will be quite similar to that of an on-campus course.

Text-based readings, lectures, group assignments, videoconferences, live chats, and message boards are all common methods for completing online courses for French degrees in the classroom. 

An online French degree will likely demand more video conversations than other distance-based degrees in order for you to improve your conversational fluency and comfort.

When it comes to scheduling, an online degree in French may be less flexible than a degree that doesn’t need students to meet with their classmates and lecturers in French at certain times.

An online degree is a wonderful option for those juggling school, employment, and family commitments. It is vital for people who already have full-time jobs and families to maximize their study time.

While on-campus students are wasting time commuting, online students may utilize that time to learn, and a lot of the course material for online classes is available on-demand as well. 

Because on-demand content makes it possible for students to study from anywhere at any time, an online French degree is ideal for people who travel a lot.

What Jobs Can I Obtain with a French Degree?

There are careers in translation and teaching accessible for anyone who wants to assist others to learn a foreign language. 

Examples of such employment are as followed:

  • Translation
  • Editing
  • Subtitling/voice-overs
  • Travel services
  • Immigration services
  • Teaching English to native French speakers
  • Teaching French to native English speakers

All foreign language degrees can lead to jobs in translation and teaching, of course. Because of the language’s rich history and widespread, a degree in French can open doors to careers in a variety of different professions, such as law, business, and journalism. 

In addition to its broad usage in literature, art, jurisprudence, diplomacy, and journalism, French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world because of its enormous geographical dispersion.

If you’re a French translator for a book publisher, you could also have to work on branding for a Bordeaux vineyard, creating micro-loan programs in Haiti, or organizing a film festival here in Quebec in addition to translating.

French is the official language of a number of significant diplomatic institutions, including:

  • The United Nations
  • NATO
  • The International Olympic Committee
  • The Council of Europe
  • The European Space Agency
  • The World Trade Organization

Many worldwide charities have been created by French citizens, and French is widely spoken in Africa, where a large number of humanitarian groups operate. 

There are several NGOs that use French as their primary working language:

  • The Red Cross
  • Amnesty International
  • Doctors without Borders

In France, culture is perhaps the most valuable commodity. Honoré de Balzac once said, Whoever does not visit Paris often will never be elegant.

France is known for its elegant and sophisticated cuisine, fashion, literature & culture. There are a number of cultural goods that France has the final word on and people interested in one of them can benefit from a degree in French. 

French-speaking enterprises and disciplines of study include:

  • Wines and spirits
  • Food and dining
  • Literature
  • Fashion
  • Visual and performing arts
  • Art history

Tourism in France is linked to the country’s cultural prominence. Other French-speaking cities are also popular tourist destinations, albeit they aren’t as well-known as Paris. 

Those who have a degree in French can find employment in fields such as:

  • Museums and cultural centers
  • Air and train travel
  • Cruises
  • Hotels and hospitality
  • Travel writing
  • Tour guiding

Earning potential with a French degree is quite variable. If you work for an import/export firm, you may expect very high pay, whereas working for a ballet company, you can expect a lower compensation.

Many people, however, mistakenly believe that degrees in the humanities have a low earning potential. 

Students with STEM degrees like engineering and math made much more money than those with humanities degrees coming out of college, but these disparities faded over the period of 10 years in the workforce, according to Princeton.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a French degree?

A fondness for the French language does not necessitate pursuing a degree in French. It’s not for everyone, but there are a few reasons why.

In terms of disadvantages, a French degree does not give a clear job path like a professional degree, such as in nursing, counseling, or engineering. 

However, these positions aren’t regarded as being very profitable. They’re a good fit. In other words, if earning a good living by teaching French at the college level is vital to you, you should consider pursuing a master’s degree in French. 

To earn more money with a degree in French, you can work in a related sector, such as foreign diplomacy or hospitality, which would likely require further training and abilities.

On the other hand, students and businesses alike benefit greatly from a French degree. The positive side of this is that the French language is vital for worldwide culture, trade, and diplomacy because of the historical impact of France and the rising number of French speakers outside of Europe. 

This is why studying French is a good option for people interested in international relations, global trade, and humanitarian aid.

French is a great choice if you’re interested in any of these fields and have a strong desire to learn more about the French culture and language.

David Krug