The French Program
The study of French is an intellectual adventure that leads to the core of Western civilization. In language, literature, the arts, the media, political theory, philosophy and religious thought, France has played a key role in shaping the West as we know it today, with great scientists, artists, explorers and thinkers radically transforming our ideas about time, being, truth, justice and power. French is also an important global language, with more than 180 million speakers worldwide, including those in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. In today’s global economy, mastery of French, especially when combined with English fluency, offers a powerful advantage to those entering the job market, going on to graduate or professional training, or considering work with aid agencies and NGOs. French is the third most requested language in the American labor market, particularly in sectors such as insurance, healthcare, finance, and humanitarian aid.
Why study French at UCSB?
- Students receive extensive training in French culture, literary history, theory and criticism, as well as intensive training in the mastery of the French language, both spoken and written. Classes taught in French tend to have a low student-to-teacher ratio, (under 25 students/class), enabling students to benefit from more individualized attention and to build closer relationships with their professors.
- UCSB’s Education Abroad Program offers ready access to study experiences in France, to enliven the learning of language and culture through total immersion and training at one of our UC Study Centers in Paris, Bordeaux, or Lyon.
Facts on French in the World
- French is the second most commonly taught language in American schools after Spanish with over 1.2 million students. It is also the third most spoken world language after English and Spanish.
- As the fifth global economic power, France shares a close business partnership with the United States: 2,800 French companies in the U.S. earn a combined 1.7 billion U.S. dollars annually in varied sectors such as technology, medicine, banking, defense, publishing and tourism. Outside of the European Union, the United States is the top consumer of products from France and the second supplier of products to France (after China).
- French is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and, alongside English, one of the two working languages of the UN in New York and Geneva. Students interested in a career in journalism, diplomacy and international relations will present a linguistic advantage by speaking French.
- French businesses have a notable presence in the United States, with over 3,600 affiliates and over 560,000 employees. In return, the United States is the top foreign investor in France, with a foreign direct investment stock of nearly 115 billion euros at the end of 2014. Over 2,700 American businesses operate in France and employ nearly 440,000 persons, making the United States the top foreign employer in France ahead of Germany.
Adapted from Cultural Services of the French Embassy
Where would you like to go next?
For course offerings and quarterly office hours, please click here.
If you are looking for details on the French Honors Program, please click here.
What can I do with French?
Careers in all facets of international business, from marketing and media to banking, law, finance, trade, entertainment and communications, require a good grasp of at least one foreign language such as French. So do careers in international relations, diplomacy, science, teaching and the arts.
Other career opportunities include translating and interpreting, journalism, publishing, foreign service, civil service, humanitarian aid, international business, international relations, travel and tourism, library sciences, and other international, non-governmental organizations.