University of Minnesota
Department of French & Italian

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French Certificate

The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in French Studies is primarily for secondary teachers of French and anyone wishing to further their knowledge of the linguistics, culture, literature and film of France and Francophone countries. Through graduate-level seminars, you will explore in depth aspects of French and Francophone literature, culture, and language while also enhancing language skills. An additional benefit is the potential for professional advancement.

Program Length

The certificate can be completed in 2 years (at 1 course per semester plus 1 summer course) but may be completed in up to 4 years.

The certificate is a self-contained program, however, certificate program credits may be transferred to the MA/PhD program. The certificate represents approximately one-half of the credit requirements for the French MA sequence. All scheduled graduate courses are open to students in the certificate program.


The post-baccalaureate certificate advisory committee consists of 2 faculty: 

  • Professor Betsy Kerr serves as the advisor-of-record
  • In consultation with Professor Kerr, you select the second faculty member

Certificate Requirements

The post-baccalaureate certificate in French studies consists of 5 courses (15 credits) selected as follows:

  • 1 course (3 cr.) in French linguistics
  • 1 course (3 cr.) in French or Francophone literature or culture
  • 3 elective courses (9 cr.) in French/Francophone language, linguistics, literature or culture

Other Course Requirements and Information

  • 1 of the 3 electives may be taken in a related area outside French studies (such as linguistics, second languages and cultures, history, English, art history, theater, music, etc), subject to your advisor’s approval.
  • At least 60% of credits must be taken at the 5xxx and 8xxx levels; no more than 2 courses (6 cr.) at the 4xxx level.
  • No courses taken as part of an undergraduate program may be applied, but up to 40% of the work on the certificate program can be transfer credits, consistent with the Graduate School's transfer policy.
  • 1 of the 5 courses (3 cr.) may be taken S/N.

Off-campus Immersion Options

Consider combining the certificate program with a summer immersion program, transferring up to 6 credits, for example, from the Middlebury College summer immersion program or similar programs.

Courses taken in France from American accredited graduate programs, such as the CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) Critical Studies Program in Paris or New York University Program in France, may also be transferred, subject to your advisor’s advance approval (6 cr. max.).

In addition, 1 of your 3 electives could be fulfilled through the independent study option. This involves contracting with a program faculty member to pursue a research project, which may be done in France or a Francophone country.

Program Faculty

The French studies faculty covers a broad spectrum of fields in their research and teaching: Francophone studies (Africa, North Africa, Caribbean), Québec, immigration literature, film, linguistics, contemporary literature and culture, early modern culture and literature, and Medieval studies.

Graduate Course Sampling

The following list represents a sampling of recent graduate courses:

  • Advanced/Pedagogical Grammar
  • Oral French Discourse
  • Structure of French: Phonology
  • Promenades Poétiques: Depictions of Everyday Life and Experiments in Genre in the Early Modern Period
  • Queens and Queenship: Literary Activities (authorship, translation, patronage) of French and English queens and the representation of queens in literature
  • Topics in Literature and Culture: Economic and Cultural Exchange in the Later Middle Ages
  • Narrative, History, and Memory in Modern French and Francophone Literature
  • Topics in Québécois Literature
  • Francophone Literature (Caribbean Literature)
  • Topics in Literature and Culture: European Fairy Tale
  • Topics in Later Medieval French Literature
  • Staging Modernity: Seminar in Problems of 20th-Century Theatre
  • Critical Issues: Poetry (Death in Baroque Lyric)
  • Critical Issues: Perspectives on an Author (Baudelaire)

Electives in Non-French Studies Disciplines

For electives that may be taken outside of French studies, you have many choices. Along with courses in other areas of the humanities such as history, English, art history, theater, and music, consider teaching-related courses. Of particular interest would be advanced courses in pedagogy (speaking and listening, reading/writing, curriculum, and culture) offered by Second Languages and Cultures in the College of Education and Human Development.

In addition, the MA program in English as a Second Language (ESL) offers graduate courses designed not just for teachers of ESL but for any teacher of a second or foreign language. These are often held in the late afternoon so that teachers can attend during the academic year. Topics treated include language assessment, research in second language acquisition, and discourse analysis for language teachers.

Summer Institutes

The University's Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) offers an excellent menu of summer institutes, most of which may be taken for two graduate credits each. These institutes are designed especially for language teachers and attract teachers from all over the country. Institute topics include language assessment, basics of second language acquisition, teaching language and culture, immersion education, and teaching language through content.

Academic Resources and Research Facilities

The University of Minnesota is one of the largest public research institutions in the United States. It offers graduate students a comprehensive range of academic programs and the opportunity to work with faculty doing pace-setting research.

Academic Centers

Academic centers on campus regularly organize colloquia, research groups, guest lectures, and international conferences, including: Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA), Center for European Studies, Center for Medieval Studies, Center for Early Modern History, and the Institute for Advanced Studies.


With over five million volumes, the University of Minnesota Libraries rank fifteenth among academic research libraries in North America. The University Libraries include about 130,000 titles in French. The University has been a leader in the development of digital media and Internet search vehicles. The libraries offer access to ARTFL (American Research on the Treasury of the French Language), a database of over 2,000 French texts.

To Apply


Admission decisions are based on a completed application, college transcript, and written essays. You must have a BA in French or equivalent (BA/BS in another field but relevant professional experience or academic preparation in French language and culture), with a preferred grade point average of 3.0.

If you have considerable teaching experience or other relevant professional experience (publications, translations, work experience in France or a Francophone country), but with a grade point average below the preferred average of 3.0, you are encouraged to make inquiries to the Certificate Program Coordinator, Betsy Kerr, 612-624-5807.

Elements of the Application

Applications to the Certificate in French Studies program are completed online through the Graduate School Application website.

In addition to completing the application, you will need to upload all of the following material directly to the Graduate School application website:

  • Personal statement: Explain (in English) how this program responds to your personal and/or professional goals.
  • Writing sample: This should be a 500-1,000 word essay (in French) on a topic of your choice.
  • Official transcript(s): If the originals are in a language other than English, certified English translations must be provided.
  • 3 letters of recommendation: They should be from individuals who can comment knowledgeably on your interest and abilities in French studies.
  • Application fee: May be paid online.

Application Deadlines

Applications must be received by:

  • April 15 to be considered for fall semester
  • October 15 to be considered for spring semester


You may enroll for the certificate at the University's Graduate School rate per credit. Please note that financial support such as graduate instructorships are not normally granted to certificate students.

Contact Information

Certificate Program
Professor Betsy Kerr
Certificate Program Coordinator


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