Foreign Language & Culture Studies

Open your eyes to a world of cultures

Develop and perfect your French and other foreign language skills, celebrate the diversity of cultures from around the world, and even study abroad with our Foreign Language & Culture Studies major. The program encourages you to explore the world, includes a strong French component, and offers additional benefits unique to an AU education. Here, you'll enjoy so much more in foreign culture studies than simply by majoring in a foreign language alone.


Campus Locations

Main Campus - Alfred, NY


Foreign Language & Culture Studies (BA)


none offered

Foreign Language & Culture Studies is an interdisciplinary major with a strong French component that requires 40 credits:

  • 20 credits of upper-level French courses
  • Minimum of 8 credits in a second foreign language
  • 12 credits of electives either in French or in related fields

This major is more interdisciplinary and flexible than a traditional foreign language major, preparing students for a wide variety of careers in the global arena.

Students must take at least 20 credits taught in French. At least 20 credits for the major must be taken on the Alfred University campus.

Core Course

  • FREN 302 Advanced French Grammar and Composition I
  • Major level French courses (FREN 202 or above or prior-approval by advisor)
  • Second Foreign Language (Minimum of 8 credits at the 200-level or above)
  • Elective courses in related fields 12

Possible electives for the Foreign Language and Culture Studies with a concentration in French major include*:

  • Additional upper-level courses in French or in another foreign language
  • Global History courses, particularly French or Francophone history
  • Global Art History course, particularly dealing with French and/or Francophone regions
  • Linguistics
  • Courses in Global Studies and/or Anthropology (such as ANTH 304: Language and Culture)
  • Political Science and/or Economics courses with an international focus

*Please note: This list is not exclusive and may change according to staffing and course offerings.
All courses taken abroad or in affiliated fields (e.g. history, art history or linguistics) must be pre-approved by the major advisor.

View general education requirements.

  • A grade of C or higher must be earned in all courses that count toward a completion of the major
  • At least 20 credits taught in French
  • At least 20 credits must be taken on AU campus

In addition to fulfilling the requirements of the major in Foreign Language Cultural Studies, as well as the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences general education requirements, you'll be required to complete the College's First Year Experience Program or Transfer Student Program.

The Division of Modern Languages offers courses each spring in which students have the opportunity to learn about a foreign culture and to travel abroad for two weeks with faculty from the division. These courses foster global awareness and appreciation of intercultural diversity.

Global Perspectives: Paris enables students to develop an understanding and appreciation of French culture, first in the classroom during the semester, and then during two weeks in Paris in May when students visit all the major monuments and museums and take guided tours of the most beautiful and historically rich neighborhoods of the city. The focus is on history, art, and contemporary culture. The course is open to all students and is taught in English, but some knowledge of French is recommended.

Global Perspectives: Spain enables students to develop an understanding and appreciation of other cultures and to enhance their global perspective. The capstone of this course is a two-week trip to Spain in May (approx. May 20 - June 3). Course preparation for this trip will compare and contrast the two regional identities of Madrid and Barcelona (Cataluña) as expressed through art, architecture and media images.

Global Perspectives: Costa Rica enables students to develop an understanding and appreciation of Costa Rican culture through formal course preparation in Alfred and a two-week opportunity for direct service to the Monteverde community in Costa Rica (May 17-31). Course preparation for this trip will focus on sustainable development, history and contemporary culture including art, music and literature.


Award for Academic Excellence in Modern Languages: This award is given to the senior foreign language major with the highest overall grade point average.

Honors within the field of Specialization. These honors may be awarded to seniors at graduation. Candidates for honors shall have:

  1. attained a cumulative GPA of 3.30 in the courses of their major field
  2. earned at least two semester hours of credit in independent study
  3. excelled at the capstone exam in the major

Lea Powell Prize in Modern Languages: This award is given to an outstanding scholar majoring in Modern Languages whose performance serves as an example to others.

Modern Languages Culture Award: This award is given to the student who has contributed the most to cultural programs, including foreign language club activities.

Phi Sigma Iota, the International Foreign Language Honor Society: This honor society recognizes outstanding accomplishment in the study or teaching of any of the academic fields related to foreign language, literature and culture. Student members at AU include junior and senior undergraduates of foreign languages who:

  1. have at least 3.0 average in all foreign-language courses and their entire college work
  2. have completed at least one course, in a foreign language, at the third-year level
  3. rank in the highest 35th percentile of their class in general scholarship

Phi Sigma Iota

Phi Sigma Iota, the International Foreign Language Honor Society, recognizes outstanding accomplishment in the study or teaching of any of the academic fields related to foreign language, literature and culture.

Students Invited to Membership at AU include junior and senior undergraduates of foreign language who:

  1. have at least 3.00 average in all foreign language courses and their entire college work
  2. have completed at least one course at the third-year level
  3. rank in the highest 35th percentile of their class in general scholarship

PSI History:

  • 1922 - founded at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania by Dr. Henry W. Church
  • April 1925 - became a national society when the Beta Chapter was established at The Pennsylvania State University
  • May 1926 - the first convention was held at Allegheny College
  • 1949 - Phi Sigma Iota was voted into the US Association of College Honor Societies, the first language society to receive that honor
  • May 12, 1969 - the Sigma Tau Chapter of PSI at Alfred University was established
  • 1982 - the Society became the International Foreign Language Honor Society by installing its first chapter in a foreign country at Universidad Regiomontana, Monterrey, Mexico
  • Today the Society maintains approximately 250 local chapters in the US, France and Mexico

Phi Sigma Iota Inductees

Carlotta Biggs-Rubio
Carter Adams

Julia Guarasci

Kendra Leigh Byrwa
Rebecca Lynn Cetta
Anna Ruth Gray
Mackenzie Nicole Linnell
Keely Bryce McGowan
Kristen E. Williams

Adam B. Brewer
Nellie Faie Burch
Elisabeth mary Estep
Jillian T. Mullen
Allison Naclerio
James Henry Piombino
Megan Elizabeth Steen
Amanda Weaver

Taylor Marie Jacko
Emily June Stoddard

Dannicke N. Chantiloupe
Anthony C. Davis-Crowder
Megan Erin Fitzgerald
Jessica McCallops
Emily Poole
Jasmine A. Ramon
Rebekah J. Tribble

Jennifer M. Cox
Aubrey L. Fry
Jennifer C. Futterman
Alexandria Garcia
Stacey Marie Santee

Julia Berke
Adam S. Brien
Alina Maria Cepulis
Sarah Deitsch
Trisha L. Fromm
Jennifer Lyn Lepore
Nicole M. Mekker
Timothy L. Mordaunt
Danica J. Ostrander
Nora Peters
Samantha L. Randall
Lindsey Victoria

Kalyn R. Broderick
Hannah Dunscombe
Renee Duquette
Klay Enos
Jordyn T'Keyah Larkins
Julia Anne Nelson
Sarah Orner
Mary J. Peterson
Radu Victor Rotaru
Jessica Streisel

Keriann Bellamy
Eun S. Cho
Wun Shi Hoi Jason
Nicholas J. Jimenez
Ean R. Mitchell
Melissa Rae Roginski
Jessica Taylor
Nicholas R. Walker

French Minor

The Foreign Language & Culture Studies major includes a strong French component. Students often combine this major with our French Minor. Learn more about this minor by visiting the French Minor page.

Spanish Major/Minor

Students interested in pursuing an education in Foreign Language & Culture Studies often add a double-major or a minor in Spanish to their academic plan. Learn more about our Spanish programs by visiting our Spanish Major/Minor page.


Chinese courses are offered at the beginning and intermediate levels as an introduction to the Mandarin Chinese language and a study of the cultures of the People's Republic of China.

Instructors for these courses are from the Confucius Institute at Alfred University (CIAU). They are native speakers of Mandarin Chinese.

CIAU represents a partnership between AU, the Office of the International Chinese Language Council and China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, China.

The goal of the CIAU is to promote the Chinese language and culture through education in upstate New York and to help people further their understanding of China today.


Courses are offered in beginning German giving students the ability to acquire language skills through speaking, reading, understanding and writing as well as providing knowledge of diverse cultures.

Students have the opportunity to develop intermediate and advanced German language skills through Study Abroad programs, such as:

  • University of Munich - Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • University of Applied Sciences in Koblenz, Germany - Glass and Ceramics
  • Technical College of Trier - Business
  • University of Erlangen - Engineering

Why study German?

  • Throughout Europe, more people speak German as their native language than any other language.
  • Germany has the strongest economy in Europe.
  • Germany is one of the world's top exporters.
  • Knowing German gives you an edge in business opportunities as German companies account for 700,000 thousand US jobs, while US companies have created approximately the same number of jobs in Germany.
  • It is one of the preferred languages for graduate school in many fields including: History, Art History and Philosophy.
  • German figures prominently in the world's Engineering and Electronic Arts.
  • German and Modern English are both Germanic languages, which share many similarities in both vocabulary and structure.


At Alfred University, we offer one year of Italian Language and Culture. Following this study, a student may continue with a Topics course which review and expand functional Italian language skills, as well as generate appreciation and familiarity with Italian culture.

All of the Italian courses explore Italian history and culture from the Renaissance through the Twentieth Century through literature, poetry, art, music, opera, and film. Offered alternate years.


We offer one year of Classical Latin in which students explore the culture of ancient Rome and its empire, and acquire the skills to read, write and translate Latin.

Why study Latin?

  • Improve your English vocabulary and grammar as we derive approximately 60% of our English words from Latin.
  • Much of the technical vocabulary of medicine, law and the natural sciences is derived from Latin.
  • Stand out from other medical and law school applicants.
  • Studying Latin give you an edge in learning Spanish, French and Italian, as about 80% of the vocabulary in those languages is derived from Latin.
  • Read classical literature, myths, history, philosophy and poetry as the writer intended, not only in translation.
  • It is a must for those interested in Medieval Studies.
  • Toga, toga, a rebel!

Who needs to take the Placement Exam?

  • Students who have taken more than two years of a language in high school and who intend to take the same language at AU must take the exam.
  • Students who are bilingual or native speakers of the language they wish to take or who have spoken the language at home.
  • Students do not need to take the exam if they did not study a language previously or if they are planning to take a different language in college.

Exams are given in French, German and Spanish. Results will be posted for the Advisors only on Banner under Test Scores. Students cannot access their own scores.

Procedure to Demonstrate Proficiency in a Language other than French, German and Spanish:

Once you have obtained test scores from Banner, please use the following guidelines for registration:

  • 0 - 200 You should start with the first semester course (101)
  • 201-400 You should start in the second semester of the language (102)
  • 401-600 You should start in the third semester course (201)
  • Students who have completed the foreign language requirement are encouraged to continue their foreign language studies. Please contact any faculty member or the office of Modern Languages for guidance choosing which level would be most appropriate.
  • Please Note: To be considered for membership in Phi Beta Kappa students must have, among other qualifications, demonstrated intermediate proficiency in a foreign language through 200-level coursework.

International Students:

Foreign Language Requirement Waiver Request Policy and Form

Modern Languages - Online Course Policy

General Education Foreign Language Competency (III)

The Division of Modern Languages does not accept courses taken online for transfer credit in fulfillment of the General Education Foreign Language Competency (III). The position of the Division of Modern Languages regarding courses taken online is based upon the National Standards for Language Learning as delineated by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). In exceptional circumstances, the Division of Modern Languages may choose to review this policy on a case by case basis.

World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages

Similar Programs

If you're majoring in Foreign Language Culture Studies, you may consider double-majoring or minoring in the following related programs:

All Undergraduate Programs