French and Linguistics (BA)

Department Website

Program Description


The Department of French Literature, Thought, and Culture welcomes students with no knowledge of French as well as students who learned French in secondary school or at another university and wish to maintain their language skills and/or study the literature, culture, or thought traditions of France and the Francophone world. Advanced courses are also suitable for native speakers of the language. With an emphasis on the diversity of the French-speaking world and on urgent questions such as gender, race, and the environment, the department’s course offerings are constantly evolving. The department offers a variety of majors and minors, all of which complement a wide variety of other majors, including but not limited to art history, comparative literature, economics, history, international relations, journalism, music, and psychology. Departmental majors and minors are strongly encouraged to study away at NYU Paris, located in the heart of the historic Latin Quarter.

After graduation, French majors follow a wide range of career paths. Among recent graduates are: a diplomatic policy advisor for the United Nations, an editorial project manager, a fashion journalist, an international development consultant, a manager in an international real estate firm, and others who work in the US Foreign Service, art museums, and NGOs. Other popular post-graduation pathways include graduate school (French, art history, linguistics, etc.), medical school, and law school.

At the Maison Française, students can attend films, lectures, concerts, and Café et Conversation events, as well as other undergraduate events throughout the academic year. The Department of French Literature, Thought, and Culture hosts a chapter of Pi Delta Phi, the national French honor society. The NYU French Club, run by and for our undergraduates, fosters camaraderie and increases interest in French language and Francophone cultures within the NYU community.


Linguistics is the science of human language. It seeks to determine that which is necessary in human language, that which is possible, and that which is impossible. While linguists work to determine the unique qualities of individual languages, they are constantly searching for linguistic universals—properties whose explanatory power reaches across languages. The discipline of linguistics is organized around syntax (the principles by which sentences are organized), morphology (the principles by which words are constructed), semantics (the study of meaning), phonetics (the study of speech sounds), phonology (the sound patterns of language), historical linguistics (the ways in which languages change over time), sociolinguistics (the interaction of language with society), psycholinguistics, and neurolinguistics (the representation of language in the brain). Current research by faculty members extends across the field, including topics in the interaction of syntax and semantics, phonetics and phonology, languages in contact, pidgin and creole languages, urban sociolinguistics, and computer analogies of syntactic processes.

Joint Honors

Students interested in pursuing joint honors in linguistics and French should consult with the director of undergraduate studies in linguistics, as well as in the French department, in or before the second semester of their junior year.


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