Romance Languages (BA)

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Program Description

The Romance languages are the group of related tongues that began to emerge from spoken Latin after the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century. In the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance they evolved into the languages that we recognize as the basis of (among others) modern Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The great works of literature produced in these centuries became the foundation of the national literatures of their respective cultures.

The nine-course major in Romance languages in the College of Arts and Science is administered by the Departments of Italian, French, and Spanish and Portuguese. Students choose a combination of any two of these four languages, taking five courses in one and four in the other. Thus, majors in Romance languages are able to take advantage of the rich course offerings and resources of our world-renowned language departments and to learn from distinguished scholars in two fields.

The major stresses competence in speaking and writing before moving into literary and cultural coursework. To improve students’ competency in their two languages and promote cross-cultural understanding and exposure, study away at NYU Buenos Aires, Florence, Madrid, and/or Paris is encouraged. While they are at the Washington Square campus, students can take advantage of talks, exhibitions, films, and other events sponsored by the Departments of French, Italian, and Spanish and Portuguese and NYU’s Maison Française, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, as well as by cultural institutions in New York.

A major in Romance languages is applicable to careers in international law and business, communications, education, fine arts, tourism, and diplomacy, and also complements majors in such fields as art history, cinema studies, comparative literature, history, international relations, linguistics, medieval and Renaissance studies, and music.

Overview of the Major

The Romance languages major requires a total of 36 credits distributed between two languages, with 20 credits taken in the primary language and 16 credits taken in the secondary language. Students typically meet the requirements with nine 4-credit courses (five in the primary language and four in the secondary), but with permission of the appropriate language department(s), combinations of 2- and 4-credit courses may be approved to satisfy advanced language requirements. The combinations of primary-secondary languages are:

  • French-Italian
  • French-Spanish
  • French-Portuguese
  • Italian-French
  • Italian-Spanish
  • Italian-Portuguese
  • Spanish-French
  • Spanish-Italian
  • Spanish-Portuguese
  • Portuguese-French
  • Portuguese-Italian
  • Portuguese-Spanish

For declaration of and advisement in the major, students must visit the departments of both languages they intend to study. They must indicate to both departments which language is primary and which is secondary. Advisement for course sequencing takes place in the relevant departments.

Students must earn a C or better in all courses for the major. Courses graded Pass/Fail cannot be counted toward the major.

Honors in Romance Languages

To be eligible, a student must spend a minimum of three full semesters in residence at the College of Arts and Science (attendance at NYU Buenos Aires, Florence, Madrid, or Paris counts toward this residence). The student must maintain a cumulative and major GPA of at least 3.65. A Romance languages major who meets these requirements and wishes to pursue a senior honors project should apply to the director of undergraduate studies in the language department of the intended faculty adviser.


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