The Department of Romance Studies provides opportunities for studying the languages, literatures, and cultures of France, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Spanish America and other countries and regions where Romance languages are spoken. Students acquire competence in language together with a knowledge and appreciation of the civilization, culture, and literature of peoples who speak that language.

Studying French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish has become increasingly important because of the economic and political significance of these languages abroad and in our multicultural society in the United States. Language study also offers important support to other majors at UNC-Chapel Hill, especially history, linguistics, political science, Latin American Studies, International Studies, European Studies, Communications, Journalism and Mass Communications, and Business.

The degree offered is Bachelor of Arts in Romance Languages, with a specialization in

The department also offers minors in French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish for the Professions, and Hispanic Studies.

Highly qualified and motivated students are encouraged to pursue the B.A. in Romance Languages with Honors.

Independent study courses (FREN 396, ITAL 390, PORT 396, or SPAN 396) exist in order to allow students to undertake research on topics that are not made available through normal course offerings.  Independent study courses may not be given simply because a student cannot get into a class, or due to difficulties a student may have in his or her scheduling of classes.  Given the need to be able to demonstrate to the College the academic integrity of such courses, please note that:

  • Student must find a faculty member (tenured/tenure-track or fixed term) who is willing to be your advisor for the project. This is something that you will do on your own. Before approaching faculty members about advising you on your project, you should write up a project proposal of what you wish to do. This will give the advisor a starting point from which to negotiate your requirements. Please note that faculty members are not obligated to advise you on an independent study project. They may be unable to work with you due to other commitments, even if they are excited about your topic. You should seek out a faculty advisor as early as possible.
  •  Prior to registering for an independent study course, student and supervising professor must complete an Independent Study Contract or Honors Learning Contract for the Independent Study.
  • The supervising professor must also create a syllabus for the independent study that should be submitted with the learning contract to Sheena Melton (, who will ask for the Chair’s consent and enroll the student in the appropriate course if approved. The syllabus for the independent study will specify the topic and readings for the course, as well as dates by which readings and written work must be completed, the frequency of required meetings, and how the grade for the course will be determined. The syllabus should also describe the assessment procedure and criteria for determining the student’s grade. As an independent study is an upper level course, there should be a substantial writing component to an Independent Study taken as a whole.
  • Independent studies must be arranged by no later than the end of the first week of classes.
  • No faculty member should have more than 2 students enrolled in independent studies with him or her in a given semester; if you are willing to have more students, you should schedule a 398 seminar and offer the course as an overload (without extra pay) with an approved course schedule.


Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)
Funding to Present at a Conference

The Bachelor of Arts with Honors or with Highest Honors indicates that the student is academically superior and has carried out independent research and writing of high quality. For those planning to pursue a higher degree in French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, or a related field, it provides early experience on how to prepare a thesis and an oral defense, both of which are integral parts of graduate studies in the humanities. Majors who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 or higher and a 3.5 or higher in their major courses, and who have the commitment and dedication to undertake independent work, are encouraged to apply for admission to the honors component of the Major.

  1. Toward the end of the junior year, the applicant should speak with the language advisor for his or her Major concerning eligibility and the appropriateness of the degree with honors. (If you do not know your language advisor, click here) If recommended to pursue honors work, the language advisor will also discuss with the student the proposed research project and identify for the student the members of the faculty who are most likely to be qualified to direct his or her research and writing. Students who are studying abroad during the spring semester of their junior year should contact the language advisor by email.
  2.  The student should then discuss the nature and scope of the proposed project with the member of the faculty that he or she would like to direct the research and writing of the honors essay. At the same time possible faculty members to serve as two additional readers should be discussed. One of the additional readers may be selected from a department other than Romance Languages.
  3. The faculty member who has agreed to direct the honors essay should complete a Department Learning Contract for Honors Study to enroll the student for the following semester in the appropriate research course (see Procedure for Completing the Major with Honors below). The faculty member should also inform the language advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies that he or she has agreed to direct the student’s research and essay, and the topic of the project to be pursued.
  4. At the end of the spring semester, the Director of Undergraduate Studies will provide all the members of the faculty with a list of honors students for the next academic year, indicating the name of the faculty member who will be directing the student’s program and the topic chosen for research.
  1. Specific course work for the Major with Honors will consist of enrollment in a special topics course in language of your major (French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish 691H Research for Advanced Students) in the fall semester, and 692H Honors Thesis in the spring semester.  Students who intend to graduate in December would adjust the scheduling of these courses in order to allow for completion of the honors project in December.
  2. The student will prepare a 5-page proposal and bibliography stating as specifically as possible the nature of the project to be undertaken. The proposal should be given to the faculty Honors Advisor no later than the third week of classes of the semester in which the student is enrolled in the special topics course. The advisor and the student will develop together a plan for the research project that includes independent research and discussion in the special topics course during the first semester, and the writing and revising of the essay for 692H during the second semester. It is expected that this will result in the production of an essay of a length appropriate to the scope and nature of the project, usually 30-40 double-spaced pages. The MLA Handbook provides guidelines for acceptable form.
  3. At the beginning of the semester in which the student is enrolled in the 692H Honors Thesis, he or she should invite two additional faculty members to serve as readers for the essay and participate in the oral examination. Each faculty member should be given a copy of the original proposal, and should be asked if he or she would like to receive parts of the thesis as it is written, only the first draft, or only the final draft (see The Honors Essay and Oral Examination below).
  4. Given the fact that both faculty and student schedules become difficult toward the end of the semester, the student is strongly encouraged not to wait until the essay is completed to schedule the oral examination (see The Honors Essay and Oral Examination below).
  1. The honors essay may be written either in the language of your major or English. A reasonable timetable would include the submission of parts of the essay to the advisor as they are written, a completed first draft by the middle of March, and a final draft for submission to all readers by April 1, but no later than ten days before the scheduled oral examination.
  2. An oral examination on the project must take place by the deadline established by the Honors Office, usually approximately two weeks before the end of classes. The committee composed of the essay advisor and the two readers will conduct the examination, although any interested member of the department may attend and participate in the discussion. On the basis of the essay and the examination, the committee will decide if the essay is acceptable as is, or suggest revisions. The committee will also recommend the candidate for Honors or Highest Honors depending on the student’s overall academic record and the quality of the student’s independent research and essay.
  3. On the basis of the work completed for the honors essay, the Essay Advisor will assign a letter grade for 691H that will be included on the standard course grade roll for the course.
  1. The honors essay advisor will convey the committee’s recommendation to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who in turn will complete the form provided by the Dean of Honors for the submission of information on all candidates for honors, and send it to the Dean of Honors by the announced deadline.
  2. The thesis director should also ascertain that any temporary grades of SP for the first semester of senior honors thesis work have been removed from the student’s record. A temporary grade of IN should not be used for the first semester of senior honors thesis work, except when extraordinary life circumstances prevent a student from completing course requirements. Faculty that intend to assign a temporary grade of IN for the second semester of senior honors thesis coursework should first contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who in turn will seek prior approval by the Associate Dean for Honors.
  3. Students who graduate with honors are given a special cord for wearing at graduation. Students will be notified by their thesis director when and where to pick up the honors cords.
  4. Students are required to submit two copies of the final version of their theses: one hard copy to the Undergraduate Student Services Manager of the Department of Romance Languages, which will be bound for the department library, and one in PDF format via the Carolina Digital Repository (CDR) by the last day of classes in the semester in which they complete the thesis coursework. The University Library will catalog electronic theses and make them available to the public. For detailed instructions as to how to submit completed theses, see Senior Honors Thesis Guidelines.