Romance Languages and Literatures offers vibrant programs in French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Our language classes have long been popular with undergraduates, including those interested in international travel and those who anticipate a global dimension to their future careers. All of our classes focus on culture writ large: We study great texts, and we do so with an eye to gender roles, traditions, communities, individual freedom, social obligations and many other topics of critical importance today. We offer concentrations in French, Italian and Spanish, as well as applied linguistics and introductory Portuguese.

Our undergraduate programs in French, Italian and Spanish include a compelling series of language, literature, culture and civilization courses that introduce students to the global Hispanic, Francophone and Italophone communities. The curriculum affords students the opportunity to become fluent in a foreign language, enrich their historical and cultural understanding, and acquaint themselves with influential intellectual, literary and artistic traditions.

Students also benefit from linguistic and cultural immersion opportunities through our many summer, semester and year-long study abroad programs. These programs offer unique possibilities to combine foreign language training with other interests, including participating in business internships in Paris; pursuing fieldwork in Camaroon; studying art history in Italy, literature in Madrid, or Andean culture in Ecuador. These experiences lead to a variety of career paths, including international law, international business, medicine, journalism, and graduate studies in political science, international relations, history, anthropology, art history, comparative literature, French and film studies. In order to prepare our students to take full advantage of such opportunities, our faculty provides an innovative range of courses that combine the study of literature with contemporaneous developments in philosophy, science, music, art and theory.

For undergraduates interested in cross-language study, we offer two programs. First, students may elect to major in Romance languages and literatures. This major requires advanced course work in French, Italian and Spanish, with one of the three languages as the focus of primary emphasis. Second, they may minor in applied linguistics, studying the theoretical, empirical and practical foundations of teaching and learning languages. The minor is available to all majors on campus but is particularly suited to language majors.


Prospective Romance languages majors should consult with the director of Undergraduate Language Studies of the chosen language as early as possible.

For the French major, please visit the French page.

For the Italian major, please visit the Italian page.

For the Spanish major, please visit the Spanish page.

The Major in Romance Languages and Literatures

Like our other majors, the Romance languages major requires a writing-intensive course and a capstone experience. Further details are available on the department's website.

Total units required: A minimum of 42 units at the 300 and 400 level, distributed among French, Italian and Spanish.

Required courses:

  • Language I: courses through the 400 level, including 307, 308, two literature surveys (French 325 and French 326, or Ital 323W and Ital 324W, or Span 335C and Span 336C), and two 400-level courses (in Italian, two literature courses; in French, either two literature courses or one literature course and French 411; in Spanish, either two literature courses or one literature and one linguistics course).
  • Language II: courses through the 400 level, including 307, 308, at least two literature surveys (French 325 and French 326, or Ital 323W and Ital 324W, or Span 335C and Span 336C), and one 400-level course (in Italian and French, a literature course; in Spanish, either literature or linguistics).
  • Language III: courses through and including one literature survey (307, 308, plus, depending on the language, French 325 or French 326; Ital 323W or Ital 324W; Span 335C or Span 336C).
  • One WI (writing-intensive) course either in Spanish or Italian, or via French 411 (fall only).
  • A capstone experience, either by completing Latin Honors or by completing a senior undergraduate seminar in the junior or senior year with a grade of B+ or better. We encourage students to consider doing an honors thesis, perhaps combining French and Spanish. The 6 units of 495 (honors) would be above and beyond the requirements listed above for each language.

Students need to take these classes for a letter grade and earn a B- or better, with a B average overall, per departmental requirements of all majors.

Students need approval from directors of undergraduate studies for Italian, French and Spanish for this major.

Additional Information

Students who plan to teach or pursue graduate study should consider taking a second foreign language, as well as linguistics courses. In all departmental courses for the major the student must receive a grade of B- or above. Each student's progress toward achieving the objectives of the major will be assessed on a regular basis and by a variety of means. More information is available in the departmental mission statement.

Spanish Honors in Linguistics: To qualify for Spanish Honors in Linguistics in the major by thesis, a student must complete linguistic research and prepare and orally defend an honors thesis, which is judged by an honors faculty committee. The honors thesis in linguistics may include scientific experiments conducted in Spanish. The written thesis will include several drafts, all of which will be written in Spanish.

Study Abroad: Students are encouraged to participate in a study abroad program. Programs are available in France, Italy, Spain, Ecuador, Mexico and Chile.

Senior Honors: Students who have maintained at least a 3.65 overall cumulative GPA through the end of the junior year are encouraged to work toward Latin Honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude). To qualify for Latin Honors in the major by thesis, a student must complete special literary research and prepare and orally defend an honors thesis, which is judged by an honors faculty committee. To qualify for Latin Honors by course work, the student must complete four literature courses at the 400 level, including two in literature before 1800, and present two critical essays written for those courses to be judged by an honors faculty committee. Recommendations for honors are based on performance and the quality of the thesis or critical essays, plus the cumulative grade point average.

For the minor in French, visit the French page.

For the minor in Italian, visit the Italian page.

For the minor in Spanish, visit the Spanish page.


For French courses, visit the French page of this Bulletin.


For Italian courses, visit the Italian page of this Bulletin.


For Portuguese courses, visit the Portuguese page of this Bulletin.


For Spanish courses, visit the Spanish page of this Bulletin.