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French Classes in NYC with School and Program Information

The New York City area has a number of colleges and universities that offer French classes and programs, including three located less than ten miles from downtown. Learn about the three schools' programs, admission info and program requirements to make an informed education decision.

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New York City Schools with French Classes and Programs

French is one of the six working languages of the United Nations in New York City, and in addition to English, it's one of the two working languages of the organization's Secretariat. Approximately 19 public and private colleges and universities within 25 miles of New York City offer classes and programs in French; these schools can be found in the city's five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester County. Three of the largest, including two private and one public institution, are located within eight miles of Manhattan's downtown. Summaries of the schools and programs can be found below, along with a table of key institutional information and an overview of nine other college and university options.

  • The Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University , an Ivy League school, is located on New York City's Upper West Side, approximately eight miles from downtown. One of the oldest divisions of its kind in the U.S., the university's Department of French and Romance Philology offers programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
  • Undergraduate courses and degrees in French culture, education and language are also available through the Department of Romance Languages at Hunter College, located less than seven miles from downtown. This midtown Manhattan school is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) and is one of approximately seven colleges in the system that offers classes or programs in French.
  • The Washington Square campus of New York University is located less than two miles from downtown in Greenwich Village, and with over 51,000 students, the college is the largest one on this list. Through the Department of French, students can earn undergraduate or graduate degrees in language-related studies, and instruction is delivered mostly in French.

Comparison of Schools

This table is designed to provide you with a snapshot of the Ivy League, private and public universities featured in this article. It includes important information about acceptance rates, undergraduate tuition and retention rates.

Columbia University Hunter College New York University
School Type University; private not-for-profit 4-year; public University; private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 30,454* 23,005* 51,123*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Tuition and Fees (2017-2018) $57,208* $6,982 for in-state students; $14,372 for out-of-state students* $50,464*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 59%* 81%* 54%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 7%* 40%* 28%*
Retention Rate (Fall 2016 to Fall 2017) 97% for full-time students; 91% for part-time students* 83% for full-time students; 80% for part-time students* 93% for full-time students; 71% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate (for full-time students who enrolled in 2011) 95%* 52%* 84%*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Columbia University

The undergraduate French programs, offered through the Department of French and Romance Philology, are designed to provide students with a comprehensive background in the culture, history, language and literature of France and the greater French-speaking world. In addition to classroom and study abroad opportunities, the Maison Française gives students the chance to enjoy cultural and scholarly exchanges with academics, business people and policymakers.

Bachelor of Arts in French Language and Literature

The Bachelor of Arts in French Language and Literature requires 21 core points, 12 points in electives or nine points with a senior thesis. Coursework includes topics like the history of France, French culture, and language and society. Students must also complete a senior essay that's worth three points. The essay must be 25 pages and written in French. In addition to the French language and literature major, students can pursue a concentration in this area.

Bachelor of Arts in French and Francophone Studies

This is an interdisciplinary degree program that focuses on the culture, history and literature of the French-speaking part of the world. The university core and language requirements are the same as those for the Bachelor of Arts in French Language and Literature, and students also have to take an advanced class in composition and grammar.

The curriculum covers introductory topics in history, historical research and Francophone literature from Africa, Canada, the Caribbean and other post-colonial regions. Individual themes include those associated with citizenship, human rights, nationalism and secularism, especially those that have occurred during the last 300 years. To fulfill the 33-point requirement for the major, Francophiles may pursue interdisciplinary electives in anthropology, art history, political science or women's studies. Nine of these credits must be in a non-major subject area; electives can also be fulfilled by teaching at Reid Hall or by writing a guided research essay.

In addition to the major, the Department of French and Romance Philology offers a 24-point concentration in French and Francophone studies with six points in non-major coursework.

Hunter College (CUNY)

Hunter College is a culturally diverse institution and one of the oldest public postsecondary schools in the U.S. Through the Department of Romance Languages, students can pursue majors and minors in French, Italian and Spanish, as well as concentrations in civilization and literature.

Bachelor of Arts in French

The Bachelor of Arts in French program provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in both the oral, written, cultural and literary traditions of native speakers. As with the school's other foreign language programs, it is designed to help students acquire the skills they need to pursue a number of career options, including those in business, communications, international affairs and translation. All undergraduates have to complete core studies in the natural and social sciences, the humanities and math, as well as four semesters of a foreign language. Four years of a high school language, placement tests or previous college coursework may exempt some students from this last prerequisite.

Undergraduate majors can choose between two 30-42 credit concentrations: French civilization and language or French literature. Select courses are conducted in English and cover topics in the French Revolution and modern history, the surrealistic and symbolic elements found in French literature, contemporary theater, film and poetry. Conversational topics include advanced grammar, diction and phonetics. Qualified students may also be able to take advantage of the department's study abroad option.

French Minors

Along with the Bachelor of Arts, the Department of Romance Languages offers 15-credit minors in French language and culture, French literature and French culture and literature in translation.

New York University

The Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture at New York University offers a notable selection of undergraduate and graduate studies in French civilization, language and literature, and most instruction takes place in French. In addition to the classes taught by faculty members, program offerings include classes and seminars taught by visiting professors.

Bachelor of Arts in French

The 36-point undergraduate program at New York University provides students with the classroom experiences they need to advance their oral and written communication skills and become knowledgeable about the culture and literature of French-speaking peoples. The highly selective admission requirements include 2-3 years of a foreign language. To be admitted to the major, students also have to pass an intermediate French course with a grade of B- or higher.

The College of Arts and Science requires all students to complete a general education core in the liberal arts, and the curriculum is designed to help undergraduates become more culturally aware and develop their critical reading and thinking skills. Coursework and electives for the major include topics in acting, business and contemporary French, advanced composition, phonetics and translation. Students must also take courses in literature and culture that can give them a chance to study medieval, revolutionary and contemporary France.

French majors are expected to spend a semester or more at the NYU Center in Paris, and summer study is recommended for those who cannot fulfill this key part of the program. At the professional level, internship opportunities are available in education, international relations, journalism and publishing.

Bachelor of Arts in French and Linguistics

The major in French and linguistics requires 36 points of coursework, and the curriculum distribution includes one course each in advanced spoken and written French and two courses in literature.

To fulfill the linguistics requirements, students also have to take core classes in grammar, language and sound. Linguistic electives are limited to two, and these include topics in phonology, psycholinguistics and syntax.

Minor in French

The department offers 16-point minors in Francophone or French studies, French literature in translation and literature in translation. French majors may not minor in French literature, but literature in translation is a multi-departmental specialization that is open to students from other majors.

Other School Options

In addition to the programs listed above, Barnard College in Manhattan offers majors in French and Francophone studies, literature and translation and language and literature. Outside of the City University of New York, other private and public institutions that offer programs in French include Fordham University and the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx, St. John's University in Queens, Manhattan College in Riverdale and Wagner College on Staten Island. Students who live in or are interested in attending school outside of the city may want to look into the College of New Rochelle in Westchester County or Adelphi and Hofstra universities on Long Island.

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