Requirements

Majors in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Students may declare a major in Francophone studies, Hispanic studies, Italian studies, or in romance languages and literatures (with a concentration in two of the three areas: Francophone studies, Hispanic studies, and Italian studies). All majors are expected to achieve breadth in their knowledge of the French-, Italian-, and/or Spanish-speaking worlds by taking courses on the literatures and cultures of these areas across all genres from the medieval period to the present, including at the 3000 level. Students should also take complementary courses in study-away programs or in other departments and programs.

Francophone Studies Major

Nine courses higher than FRS 2204 Intermediate French II, including: 

Required Courses a
FRS 2409Spoken Word and Written Text1
FRS 2410Literature, Power, and Resistance1
Select at least one of the following:1
FRS 2407
Francophone Cultures
FRS 2408
Contemporary France through the Media
Select three courses at the advanced level (3000–3999), at least two of which must be taught in French, and at least two of which must be taken at Bowdoin.3

Students who place out of any of the courses listed above must still take at least nine courses in Francophone studies or Romance languages and literatures for the major.  


Hispanic Studies Major

Nine courses higher than HISP 2204 Intermediate Spanish II, including:

Required Courses b
HISP 2305Advanced Spanish1
HISP 2409Introduction to Hispanic Studies: Poetry and Theater1
HISP 2410Introduction to Hispanic Studies: Essay and Narrative1
Select three courses at the advanced level (3000–3999), at least two of which must be taught in Spanish, and at least two of which must be taken at Bowdoin.3

Students who place out of any of the courses listed above must still take at least nine courses in Hispanic studies or Romance languages and literatures for the major.  


Italian Studies Major

Nine courses higher than ITAL 1101 Elementary Italian I, including:

ITAL 1102Elementary Italian II1
or ITAL 1103 Accelerated Elementary Italian
ITAL 2203Intermediate Italian I1
ITAL 2204Intermediate Italian II1
ITAL 2305Advanced Italian I1
ITAL 2408Introduction to Contemporary Italy: Dalla Marcia alla Vespa1
Select two courses taught in English whose focus is on Italian art, culture, cinema, or music d2
Select two courses taught in Italian at the advanced level (3000-3999) e2

Students who place out of any of the courses listed above must still take at least nine courses in Italian studies, or Romance languages and literatures, or approved courses for the major.


Romance Languages and Literatures Major

Nine courses higher than 2204. Students must fulfill the requirements below from two different areas.

Area-Specific Option Requirements c
Francophone studies requirements:2
FRS 2409
Spoken Word and Written Text
FRS 2410
Literature, Power, and Resistance
Hispanic studies requirements:2
HISP 2409
Introduction to Hispanic Studies: Poetry and Theater
HISP 2410
Introduction to Hispanic Studies: Essay and Narrative
Italian studies requirements:2
ITAL 2305
Advanced Italian I
ITAL 2408
Introduction to Contemporary Italy: Dalla Marcia alla Vespa
For any of the above combinations, three additional courses at the advanced level (3000–3999) are required, at least two of which must be taken at Bowdoin. These courses may be taken in either or both areas of the student’s concentration.3

Minors in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Students may declare a minor in Francophone studies, Hispanic studies, or Italian studies.

Francophone Studies Minor

  • at least four Bowdoin courses in Francophone studies numbered higher than 2204
  • One must be an advanced course (3000–3999) taught in French.
  • Courses taken away do not satisfy the requirements for the minor.

Hispanic Studies Minor

  • at least four Bowdoin courses in Hispanic studies numbered higher than 2204
  • One must be an advanced course (3000–3999) taught in Spanish.
  • Courses taken away do not satisfy the requirements for the minor.

Italian Studies Minor

  • at least four Bowdoin courses in Italian studies numbered higher than 2203 taught in Italian
  • All minors are required to take one 3000-level course at Bowdoin taught in Italian.
  • Up to one 2000-level course taken away in a semester or yearlong program may be applied to the minor, pending departmental approval.

Additional Information and Department Policies

  • No fewer than five courses for the majors must be taken at Bowdoin.
  • Students must achieve a grade of C- or higher in all courses for the major or minor, including prerequisites.
  • Courses that count toward the major or minor must be taken for regular letter grades (not Credit/D/Fail).
  • No more than one course for the major may be in independent study. Courses taken in independent study do not fulfill the advanced course (3000–3999) requirement.
  • Majors and minors may double-count one course in the target language with another department or program.

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate

Students who receive a minimum score of four on the French Language and Culture AP exam, or a minimum score of six on the French IB exam, are eligible to receive a general credit toward the degree, not the major/minor, if they complete FRS 2305 Advanced French through Film or higher and earn a minimum grade of B-. Students meeting these criteria do not receive credit if they place into or elect to take a course lower than FRS 2305 Advanced French through Film.

Students who receive a minimum score of four on the Italian Language and Culture AP exam, or a minimum score of six on the Italian IB exam, are eligible to receive a general credit toward the degree, not the major/minor, if they complete ITAL 2305 Advanced Italian I or higher and earn a minimum grade of B-. Students meeting these criteria do not receive credit if they place into or elect to take a course lower than ITAL 2305 Advanced Italian I.

Students who receive a minimum score of four on the Spanish Language AP exam or the Spanish Literature and Culture AP exam, or a minimum score of six on the Spanish IB exam, are eligible to receive a general credit toward the degree, not the major/minor, if they complete HISP 2305 Advanced Spanish or higher and earn a minimum grade of B-. Students meeting these criteria do not receive credit if they place into or elect to take a course lower than HISP 2305 Advanced Spanish.

In order to receive credit for Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate work, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of their sophomore year at Bowdoin. 

Study Away

A period of study in an appropriate country, usually in the junior year, is strongly encouraged. Bowdoin College is affiliated with a wide range of excellent programs abroad, and interested students should seek the advice of a member of the department early in their sophomore year to select a program and to choose courses that complement the offerings at the College. Students who study away for one semester receive a maximum of three credits toward the major. Those who study away for the academic year receive a maximum of four credits toward the major. Courses taken away cannot count toward the Francophone or Hispanic studies minors.

Independent Study

This is an option primarily intended for students who are working on honors projects. It is also available to students who have taken advantage of the regular course offerings and wish to work more closely on a particular topic. Independent study is not an alternative to regular coursework. An application should be made to a member of the department prior to the semester in which the project is to be undertaken and must involve a specific proposal in an area in which the student can already demonstrate knowledge.

Honors in Romance Languages and Literatures

Majors may elect to write an honors project in the department. This involves two semesters of independent study in the senior year and the writing of an honors essay and its defense before a faculty committee. Candidates for departmental honors must have an outstanding record in other courses in the department. Seniors engaging in independent study toward the completion of an honors project must enroll concurrently in another course in the department in the first semester of their senior year.

Placement

Entering first-year and transfer students who plan to take Francophone studies, Hispanic studies, or Italian studies courses must take the appropriate placement test administered online. Students with questions regarding placement or who wish to take the placement test after matriculating should contact a faculty member in the department.


Information for Incoming Students

Francophone Studies

Course placement recommendations are based on information provided by the student and their placement test score. Students should enroll in the recommended course but may move between course levels in the first two weeks of classes in consultation with department faculty, should they feel they have been misplaced. 

  • We strongly encourage students to begin their French language study at Bowdoin in the fall semester, as most language courses are sequential, and the first course of each sequence is offered in fall semesters only: FRS 1101 Elementary French I, FRS 2203 Intermediate French I, FRS 2305 Advanced French through Film
  • FRS 1101 Elementary French I is open to students with no previous exposure to the language. New students who studied French in high school should have taken the placement exam prior to arriving on campus. However, if a student was unable to do so, they should complete the online test and notify Professor Hanétha Vété-Congolo as soon as possible so that the test may be assessed, and the student given an appropriate placement. Native speakers of French should consult with department faculty.
  • For students placing directly into a 2000-level class, it is important to know that FRS 2407-2410 are not sequential; students may take them in any order. FRS 2409 Spoken Word and Written Text and FRS 2410 Literature, Power, and Resistance are offered in both fall and spring semesters, while FRS 2407 Francophone Cultures and FRS 2408 Contemporary France through the Media are offered only in spring semesters.

Please see the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate section above for information related to those pre-matriculation exams. For questions about Francophone Studies placements, please contact Professor Hanétha Vété-Congolo.


Hispanic Studies

Any student who wishes to take a Spanish course at Bowdoin, has studied Spanish in an academic setting for two or more years, and/or who speaks the language at home, is required to take the Spanish language placement test. However, if a student was unable to take the placement exam prior to arriving on campus, they should complete the online test and notify Professor Nadia Celis as soon as possible so that the test may be assessed, and the student given an appropriate placement. Native speakers of Spanish should consult with department faculty. Students should enroll in the recommended course but may move between course levels during the first two weeks of classes, after consulting with instructors, if they feel they have been misplaced.

  • We strongly encourage students to begin their Spanish language study at Bowdoin in the fall semester, as most language courses are sequential.
  • HISP 1100 Elementary Spanish is offered every semester and is recommended for any student who wishes to begin the study of Spanish, or who may have taken another romance language in the past or fewer than two years of Spanish in high school. The course meets four times a week with an additional conversation section. Upon successful completion of this course (C-or higher), students may advance to HISP 2203 Intermediate Spanish I.
  • HISP 2203 Intermediate Spanish I and HISP 2204 Intermediate Spanish II must be taken in sequential order. The majority of students with more than two years of experience in Spanish begin their studies at this level.
  • HISP 2305 Advanced Spanish covers topics in the political and cultural history of the Spanish- speaking world in the twentieth century, together with an advanced grammar review. It is a required course for the major or minor in Hispanic Studies.
  • HISP 2409 Introduction to Hispanic Studies: Poetry and Theater and HISP 2410 Introduction to Hispanic Studies: Essay and Narrative are not sequential and may be taken in any order.

Please see the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate section above for information related to those pre-matriculation exams. For questions about Hispanic Studies placement, please contact Professor Nadia Celis.


Italian Studies

Italian students are encouraged to talk with a member of the department, should they have any questions about courses or their placement (see below). New students who studied Italian in high school should have taken the placement exam prior to arriving on campus. However, if a student was unable to do so, they should complete the online test and notify Professor Davida Gavioli as soon as possible so that the test may be assessed, and the student given an appropriate placement. Native speakers of Italian should consult with department faculty.

  • We strongly encourage students to begin their Italian language study at Bowdoin in the fall semester, as most language courses are sequential, and the first course of each sequence is offered in fall semesters only: ITAL 1101 Elementary Italian I, ITAL 2203 Intermediate Italian I, ITAL 2305 Advanced Italian I.
  • ITAL 1101 Elementary Italian I is open to students with no previous exposure to the language.  
  • ITAL 1103 Accelerated Elementary Italian is offered only in the spring for students who are placed in FRS 2305 Advanced French through Film, HISP 2305 Advanced Spanish, or LATN 2305 or above, or by permission of instructor. ITAL 1103 Accelerated Elementary Italian covers two semesters of Elementary Italian in one semester, but is not twice the contact time or double the credit, just faster paced.

Please see the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate section above for information related to those pre-matriculation exams. For questions about Italian Studies placement, please contact Professor Davida Gavioli


This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue