What can I do with a degree in French?

The short answer is a lot! Certainly more than you (or your parents) might think.

While degrees in subjects like engineering and accounting point directly to specific professions, a degree in French prepares students to work in a wide variety of fields. It’s also a great way to prepare for graduate and professional school programs. To better see this, let’s look at the skills developed in studying French and think about how they connect with future professions.

At BYU, every program has a list of “learning outcomes,” which describes the skills and abilities a program is designed to develop in students. The learning outcomes for the French program are:

  • Language Competence: Graduates in French demonstrate advanced proficiency in French language skills. For speaking and writing, “advanced” corresponds to officially designated ACTFL guidelines and ratings.
  • Research Skills: Analyze the literature, language, and cultures of the French-speaking world, drawing upon an ability to evaluate and synthesize relevant primary and critical sources.
  • Critical Thinking: Students critically evaluate literary, cultural, and linguistic problems from the French-speaking world and discuss them in clear written and oral expression.
  • Portable Competencies: Graduates in French are able to synthesize and interpret information, communicate effectively, and navigate cultural difference. They can articulate the value of their humanities degree and the relationship between their academic experience and personal and professional goals. This results from coursework but also from experiential learning such as study abroad and internships.

As you can see, only one of the four specifically relates to the French language. The other three are all aimed at preparing students for any and all professional contexts. Consider how the research and critical thinking focuses of the program would prepare a student for law school and a career in law. Think about how the language skills and portable competencies would prepare a student to thrive in an increasingly global business world.

More and more employers and graduate schools have realized that it’s more important for a student to major in a subject that they’re passionate about—something they enjoy and excel in.

Below are links to some articles that will help put this into perspective:

“Want to know the language of the future? The data suggests it could be… French.” Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry. Forbes (2014).

Choose the Right College Major for Law School.” Ilana Kowarski. U.S. News & World Report (2017).

“Top Undergrad Majors at the Best Medical Schools.” Farran Powell, Ilana Kowarski, and Melissa Shin. U.S. News & World Report (2019).

“The surprising thing Google learned about its employees—and what it means for today’s students.” Valerie Strauss. The Washington Post (2017).