Honors in French
To earn departmental honors in French, students must demonstrate superior performance in departmental courses, and be enrolled in 1000-level French courses, preferably no later than the first term of their junior year. Selection of honors candidates takes place in the second term of students’ junior year. To qualify for departmental honors, students must complete and present a research paper. Work on this project customarily takes place over three terms, as follows:
During the summer before the senior year, students choose an appropriate topic with their faculty advisor and begin independent preparatory work, which will lead to the writing of a rough draft.
In the fall term of their senior year, students continue researching and begin writing their paper. This work must be done in close consultation with their faculty advisor.
In the spring term, students finish writing the paper and present the thesis before a faculty committee of three people (at least two of whom must have primary or secondary appointments in the Dept. of French & Italian at Pitt main campus).
Honors will be determined by the quality of the paper and the presentation, as well as the cumulative grades in all departmental courses counting toward the major. The presentation will be done in French.
For more information, see the document "Honors Thesis: A Guide for Students and Faculty"
Honors in Italian
Students majoring in Italian may earn the Honors designation by fulfilling the following criteria.
1. Have an average GPA of 3.5 or higher in courses required for the major; and
2. Select one of the following options:
• completion of a 25-30 page research project in Italian, developed in consultation with a faculty advisor and approved by a second faculty member (work on this project ideally takes place over three terms);
• participation in the advanced track of the Pitt-in-Florence program or in the six-week advanced Italian summer Panther Program abroad and completion of ITAL 1905 Internship in Italian, ITAL 1907 Undergraduate Teaching Assistantship, or ITAL 1909 Undergraduate Research in Italian, for at least 2 credits;
• completion of an additional 1000-level undergraduate or graduate level seminar (ITAL 2XXX) and ITAL1905 Internship in Italian, ITAL 1907 Undergraduate Teaching Assistantship, or ITAL 1909 Undergraduate Research in Italian, for at least 2 credits.
Testimonials about an Honors Project
“When I was a senior at Pitt, I elected to pursue an Honors thesis in the French program, and frankly it seemed naturally like my next step, as FRIT had always supported my ideas and allowed me to express my interests academically. My advisor, professor, and friend, Dr. Brett Wells, always supported my linguistic interests in light of the fact that the undergraduate program is anchored more so in literature and culture. After many ongoing discussions in my French phonetics course, we decided that I would study the pedagogical influence of an anglophone student’s first language — English — in a classroom where French as a foreign language is taught. With the consent and encouragement from many grad student instructors and professors from the department, I was able to conduct observational analyses and distribute surveys as a sort of study for my thesis, and ultimately, with guidance and literature support, I defended my thesis statement at the end of the year.
Coincidentally, the project ended up being incredibly vital to the next steps I took in life, as I became an English language assistant in Lille, France for middle school students. My overseeing teachers were incredibly impressed with my knowledge on how language mechanics work and how helpful code-switching between French and English was that they often gave me free reign and full creative direction over the way I conducted my lessons. Additionally, I have been able to provide a super unique method when tutoring students in France, and I always feel well informed when advising on linguistic pedagogy. The Honors thesis to me is the gift that keeps on giving, and it is undeniably my most treasured academic accomplishment from my time as a French student at Pitt.”
-Ariel Klinghoffer, French Major with Honors (Class of 2019)
“I chose to complete the Honors Thesis to enrich my experience within Pitt’s French and Italian Department. I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities that were available to me, and working with faculty on a focused project of my own design motivated me to take on the Honors Thesis.
This was the largest writing project I had ever attempted on my own and learning how to manage my time over the course of the year was an invaluable lesson. While the process of choosing a topic and then conducting the research independently seemed daunting at first, once I found a subject I was excited about – literature on gendered experiences of migration –I looked forward to spending time working on the project. Completing my thesis made me more passionate about the French language and other Francophone cultures, leading me to apply for and be accepted into TAPIF: a teaching assistant program in France, where I was able to immerse myself in French culture. The skills I developed during the Honors Thesis (research and writing in French) made me immensely more comfortable in my ability to communicate and adapt to living in France. I would highly recommend the Honors Thesis experience to anyone considering it.”
- Julia Hartigan, French Major with Honors (Class of 2019)
"When I stood at the candlelight vigil outside of the Cathedral of Learning to commemorate the victims of the terror attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad in 2015, I knew I wanted to pursue a project examining perceptions of refugees, and I chose to pursue my Honors Thesis. My project focused on two French graphic novels as primary literature, so I had a very enjoyable experience conducting the research itself. As my project developed, opportunities arose for sharing and expanding upon my work. I attended the “Forced from Home” exhibition presented by Médecins Sans Frontières which was of particular interest to me being a pre-medical student at the time. I presented my research at the Migrations of Culture National undergraduate Conference [at Pitt], which taught me how to present months of research in a timed presentation slot and become comfortable presenting original work in front of an audience. The spring after my thesis defense, I was awarded the London Field Studies Research Award allowing me to continue my research during the summer utilizing resources such as the French Department at Cambridge University, the University of East London’s refugee center archives, and the Imperial War Museum’s exhibition on the Syrian War. This was one of the highlights of this experience for me because I was able to travel and access resources that I never would’ve been able to use previously. When I subsequently applied to medical school, every interviewer I met with asked me to discuss my project in more detail because it was so unique, and it helped me to stand out in a highly competitive pool of applicants. Overall, this incomparable experience strengthened my French language capabilities, presentation and research skills, and is one of my proudest academic achievements to date."
-Emily Calabria, French Major with Honors (Class of 2019)