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Bachelor's and Master's Programs

French Honors Program

The French Honors Program is designed for French Majors or other students with demonstrated advanced-level French, interested in a comprehensive linguistic and cultural immersion program. The French Honors Program comprises three components which are complementary and aim to enable students to make the most of their studies in Aix-en-Provence.
  • A weekly French Honors course (FRE/LIT/ART 411/413)
  • One hour per week follow-up session which integrates the themes of the student's chosen course with current sociocultural-political events in France
  • Integrated activities and field studies
Additionally, students will be expected to keep a daily journal in French. This journal will be examined and discussed on a regular basis in the weekly seminar meeting. 


French Honors Program Components

  • FRE/LIT/ART 411/413: Cultural Approach of the Other - French Honors Seminar 

    In this course, students are encouraged to study and adapt the ideas and methods of artists, writers, and intellectuals. The goal is to widen the students’ horizons, to enrich their perspectives about the world, to leave behind their comfort zone and learn to borrow from others for their personal construction.

    The course is structured around 4 major themes:

    Space: This is the first "cultural shock," the initial encounter with the "reality" of the other culture. Students will study writers and artists who have deliberately chosen space as their creative field: Georges Perec, Jacques Roubaud and the writers of the Workshop of Potential Literature, Oulipo; Ernest Pignon-Ernest and photographers: Denis Darzack, Luc Delahaye, Phillippe Ramette, and Li Wei.

    The Body: How does one position himself/herself in his/her new environment? How does one’s inner voice listen to what is taking place within? The interior journey, the capacity to distance one’s emotions are part of the conditions vital to a successsful study abroad experience. Students will study writers and artists who devote their work to the exploration of inner worlds: Henri Michaux, Nathalie Sarraute, Gerashim Luca; Body Artists: Gina Pane and Marina Abramovic; the photographer, Cindy Sherman.

    The Other: What kind of relationships are we capable of establishing with others? Where do our inner boundaries lie? We will study the visual world of the artist Alberto Giacometti, the photographer, Sophie Calle and the theater director, Valère Novarina.

    The World: What is our awareness of the world and of nature? Where do we place ourselves in today’s globalized space? What space is left for nature? Students will examine the writers Eugène Guillevic and André Du Bouchet and the visual artist, Andy Goldsworthy.

    At the conclusion of each section, each student will choose a theme to explore and to experience in context; then he/she will work on the written transcription in French of his/her experience before analyzing the global implications of his/her project. Each project, dual in nature, both creative and analytical, will encourage students to use the French language in two very distinct modes.

  • Follow-Up Session: This hour-long weekly meeting allows for monitoring, questions, and preparation for activities.

    Monitoring: An opportunity to review, reread, clarify points from the FRE 411/413 course and to provide suggestions for individual projects.

    Questions: An opportunity to ask all kinds of questions from language (grammar, syntax, vocabulary) to questions about culture, society, and current events. 

    Preparation for Activities: Presentation of field trips and events; follow-up exercises.

  • Field Studies: Field studies take place twice a month and include the following.

    An activity allowing the group to enjoy a cultural and/or artistic experience within the context of Aix-en-Provence and a social event offering an opportunity to use French outside the classroom.

    All these propositions echo and reinforce the content of the main course FHP 411/413. For example, when it is the theme of exploring space, we will opt for events that enable us to discover fundamental elements that constitute the identity of Aix-en-Provence, such as the International Festival of Lyric Art or the exhibition of the Montagne Sainte Victoire by a contemporary photographer. The goal is to stretch, to go beyond, insofar as possible, clichés, stereotypes, and first impressions in an effort to reach the deeper cultural identity markers. As far as the socializing activities are concerned (such as a picnic in a nearby park or a hike) they are geared to encourage the students to become part of the real Aixois life while continuing to speak French; in other words, to free the French language from the four classroom walls where it is often limited.

In addition, students enrolled in the French Honors Program will:

  • Be placed in a homestay where only French is spoken
  • Be spoken to solely in French by IAU faculty and staff
  • Enroll in all courses taught in French
  • Attend special receptions, cultural activities, and excursions in French
  • Participate in a lecture series in French by local experts in politics, journalism, and cultural history of the region
  • Engage in intercultural dialogue with local French students from universities in Aix
  • Opt to be placed into a for-credit 'stage' (internship) based on their academic background and career aspirations
  • Upon full completion of the program, students will be awarded a Certificate in French Honors Abroad

French Honors Program Course Requirements

Please note that in order to be considered for the French Honors Program, students must complete all admissions requirements including a French Placement Exam. The French Placement Exam is due within two weeks of the application deadline. Exams received after the deadline run the risk of not being considered for the program and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Reference the Summer Course Schedule for complete and up-to-date course offerings

9 Credit Summer Term - Course Requirements:

  • French Honors Seminar (FRE 411) from Session A - 3 credits
  • Two courses taught in French from Session A, B or C - 6 credits

6 Credit Summer Term - Course Requirements:

  • French Honors Seminar (FRE 411) from Session A - 3 credits
  • One course taught in French from Session A, B or C - 3 credits

Reference the Semester Course Schedule and refer to the course selection guide at the end of the PDF for a list of all courses that fulfill the French Honors Program course requirements. 

Students take the French Honors Seminar FRE411/413 + four upper-level French classes (exceptions can be made for one class in English according to home institution credit requirements).

FRE/LIT/ART 411/413: Cultural Approach of the Other - French Honors Seminar – 4 credits:
This course proposes an exploration of literary and artistic themes related to the notion of space, both personal (internal) and geographic (external) and specifically the tensions created by the crossing (“Traversée”) between one space and another.

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