Welcome

Why study French?

French is the primary language of 340 million people throughout the world. It is the mother tongue of 29 countries, and among the top-10 most-spoken languages. Proficiency in French is crucial for those who wish to work in international policy, banking, business or law. It is also useful to those seeking a career in art history or the global nonprofit arena.

At Sweet Briar, the French major or minor can be combined with any of the College’s more than 40 academic programs.

Why French at Sweet Briar?

French majors and minors develop proficiency and fluency in the language while exploring the culture of France and French-speaking countries around the world. Classes are offered from beginner to advanced levels, including conversation and composition, advanced grammar and translation.

Students in the French program are encouraged to study abroad in a French-speaking country. In fact, most of the College’s French majors spend a semester or year abroad in Paris as part of our renowned JYF program. Established in 1923 and adopted by Sweet Briar in 1948, JYF is the oldest intercollegiate coeducational program in Paris.

French ClassFor decades, students have come together at the weekly Table Française in the dining hall to converse only in French. Professors from other disciplines who speak French often visit the Table Française. French Club activities offer additional opportunities to speak French and learn about francophone culture and traditions. French majors and minors visit Le Petit Salon for French language films and other cultural activities.

Each year, the College invites a French student to spend the year at Sweet Briar. She works as an assistant to the French instructors, lives in the residence halls and serves as a resource to students for language practice, tutoring and cultural information.

Sweet Briar French majors have been awarded the L’Alliance Française Prize and Sweet Briar’s Marcia Capron Award and the Laura Buckham Book Award, and have been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Delta Phi, the national French honor society.

What can you do with a French major?

Alumnae of Sweet Briar’s French program have gone on to study at the graduate level at the University of Virginia, Mary Washington University, Penn State University, Georgetown University, and other elite graduate programs. Many teach French at the high school and college levels. Other graduates serve in the Peace Corps and foreign service.


The French program is part of the languages and cultures department. Information about the other program in the department can be found on the following website: