French Literature and Language

Learn what careers you'll be prepared for after studying French language and literature. Get information on degree programs, career options and employment outlook.

Is French Literature and Language the Right Field for Me?

Career Overview

The French language, commonly known as the language of love, can lead to a career in interpretation and translation, diplomatic services or international business. As a student of French language and literature, you may also be prepared for a position in a museum, publishing house or tourism bureau. A formal study of French can also help you acquire the skills you need to pursue academic research or secure a teaching job. In general, most undergraduate and graduate degree programs combine instruction in the spoken word with coursework in French culture and literature.

Career Options and Salary Potential

Completion of a 4-year degree in French literature and language may qualify you for a position as a French or European history teacher, either at a high school in the United States or abroad. Additional opportunities may be found in translation services or book publishing. A master's degree is usually required to teach at a community college or work as a museum curator or librarian. If you're interested in becoming a university professor or researcher, you'll most likely need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.

Additional opportunities may be found in the international business community, where fluency in a foreign language can provide you with a competitive edge. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment opportunities for translators and interpreters would increase by 46% nationwide, or much faster than average, between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2013, the median yearly salary for an interpreter or translator was $42,420 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become a French Literature or Language Professional?

Undergraduate Programs

As a French major, you'll study French conversation and writing and take survey courses in classic literature, art, history, French culture and geography. Most programs offer opportunities for interdisciplinary studies and the chance to choose courses that align with your career goals, which may include examining the French cultural influence on African and Caribbean nations or pursuing topics in international business.

Graduate Programs

A bachelor's degree in French literature or language can help you prepare for a master's or doctoral degree program in the same field or a related area of study. Some schools also offer short-term courses of study that lead to a graduate certificate. In addition to building upon the language skills you acquired as an undergraduate, master's and doctoral programs may include specialized coursework in international education or human rights, linguistics or museology. Doctoral programs usually take five year to complete and provide opportunities for research and traditional translation. As a graduate student, you may also have the chance to study abroad.

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