Draw upon the resources of the city to gain both knowledge and confidence in a European capital. Live and communicate in a French-speaking environment. Pursue your academic and personal aspirations and refine your French language skills.
The program encourages you to challenge yourself both academically and personally. You determine your own experience and level of immersion depending on your linguistic proficiency, academic and personal goals, and personal initiative.
You are required to take one or two required language courses, depending on your language level at the start of the program.
In addition to your language course(s), you will select 3 or 4 electives from a number of different options, including:
- Specially-developed courses through the program taught in French and designed to use the city as a primary text
- Courses at some of the most renowned universities in Paris in most disciplines
- Columbia Core courses, including Art Humanities, Music Humanities and Global Core options
- Directed research projects developed in accordance with your academic focus
Eligibility and Application
- Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate student and in good academic and disciplinary standing
- Must have completed at least two years of college-level French or the equivalent
- Minimum 3.0 average language GPA
- Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
- It is expected that you will be enrolled in a French language course in the term preceding your enrollment in Paris. Grammar, composition, or literature courses will better prepare you for a semester in Paris than conversation courses. Failure to continue French language training may affect acceptance to the program.
How to apply
Want to apply? Click the “Start Your Application" button at the top of this page. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications. You will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:
- Application questionnaire(s)
- Personal statement
- Letter of recommendation from someone who has recently taught you French
- Letter of recommendation from someone who has taught you at the university level who can attest to your academic skills
- Home school approval/clearance
- Application fee (if applicable)
The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.
French Language Curriculum
All students are supported in the improvement of their French language skills in both academic and informal ways.
In addition to the language courses, students enrolled in French University courses benefit from the help of both linguistic and methodological tutors.
All students take the Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF) after Academic Writing has finished.This test, a standardized exam similar to TOEFL, is recognized in 39 countries as an objective evaluation of one’s French language ability.
This course, taken by students who place into Level I or II, is a language course at the intermediate and upper intermediate to advanced level and deepens the linguistic skills needed for life in France as a student. It meets twice a week for five hours over 12 weeks. The course finishes before the final work for other classes becomes due. The course content is different for each level.
The course is mandatory for every student, but differs in schedule for students in Levels I and II and those Levels III and IV. For Levels I and II, the course introduces students to some of the major differences between the French and American ways of approaching academic analysis and production. This intensive introduction finishes after the first 3 weeks of the semester and students continue to practice the material in the Language Practicum as needed. For students in Levels III and IV, the course is divided into five classes per week for the first three weeks, then two classes twice per week over the next 3 weeks. The course finishes mid-semester, allowing students to pursue their academic work with the 4 additional electives.
Taught by French faculty in French for program students, these courses focus on topics not available in the French university system. Writers, government leaders, and scholars are invited as guest speakers and several courses take place in the city itself, in museums, and around monuments. For recent courses and descriptions please see the local Columbia in Paris website.
Courses for Fall 2018 are still being determined. Please see representative courses below.
Spring 2018 Courses
Note: The Program reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.
HUMA O1121: Art Humanities. 3 points. Open only to Columbia students and taught in English.
Instructor: Barry Bergdoll
Art Humanities teaches students how to look at, think about, and engage in critical discussion of the visual arts. The course focuses on the formal structure of works of architecture, painting, and other media, as well as the historical context in which these works were made and understood. In addition to discussion-based classes like those held in New York, Art Humanities in Paris will make extensive use of the city through field trips to museums, buildings, and monuments.
HSPS OC3240: La vie politique en France. 3 points.
Instructor: Cédric Moreau de Bellaing
The main objective of the course is to offer a global perspective on French political life by recalling its history and by describing and analyzing its main current characteristics. After presenting the foundations of the French political system - including its institutions, political currents and major institutional issues - this course will address the themes that shape French political life.
FRST OC3994: Paris en contexte: Histoire urbaine. 3 points.
Instructor: Jean-Michel Duqueker
The course proposes a discovery of the capital both chronologically and spatially in order to understand how Paris has developed and transformed since Antiquity, how its neighborhoods and their identity were modeled, how the social and cultural geography of the city was shaped. To do this, classroom sessions will alternate between seminar sessions at Reid Hall and walking itineraries through the city.
FRST OC3994: Paris en contexte: Cinéma. 3 points.
Prerequisites: None, but preference given to students with a demonstrated interest in the content.
Instructor: Fabien Delmas
This course is a survey of the history of cinema starting with the United States and then expanding to the study of French cinema from its early years to the contemporary period.
FRST OC3994: Paris en contexte: Philosophie. 3 points.
Instructor: Florent Jakob
Paris is and has been one of the great capitals of philosophical reflection. After World War II it became comparable to Athens, or Berlin, in other words, one of the great geographical sites that marked an intellectual current in the Western world. This course will link Parisian history to the great philosophical notions that emerged in the Paris at that time. These notions, concepts and methods have been transposed into many different disciplines and will allow students to understand how many disciplines are structured and have been deeply marked by these transformations of thought in Paris (e.g. history, art history, political science, sociology and literature).
FRST OC3992: Séminaire Joint avec Sciences Po : Migration, Racisme et Intersectionnalité: les défis de la globalisation en France et aux Etats-Unis. 3 points.
Instructor: Marie Mercat Brun
Through a multidisciplinary approach (drawing on sociology, political science, economics, law and history), we will try to discover important issues relevant to individual and systemic systems in order to question and critic the practice of certain policies, notably relating to access to social justice and employment opportunities. In addition, students will gain practical experience by engaging with practitioners and local experts coming from NGOs and other relevant institutions.
NEW COURSE: L'art en France de 1960 à aujourd'hui. 3 points.
Instructor: Nicolas Baudouin
This course intends to familiarize students with contemporary art by using the resources offered by Paris. Paris is often presented as a "museum" city having had its hour of glory as a capital of the arts during the first half of the 20th century. Nevertheless, Paris remains today an important center for contemporary art in terms of creation and dissemination. This course will offer students the opportunity to discover the diversity and richness of this contemporary art scene and offer them tools to analyze and better understand contemporary artistic practices by placing them in a critical perspective. A survey of the great avant-garde movements that preceded this period will be offered to contextualize the key issues of French contemporary art.
NOTE: Course is currently pending approval by Columbia's Committee on Instruction.
NEW COURSE: L'Atlantique noir: Identité, altérité, hybridité, un autre commerce triangulaire à
travers l'Atlantique noir. 3 points.
Instructor: Alexandre Pierrepont
This course intends to examine different triangulations between Europe, Africa and the Americas in terms of human, artistic and socio-cultural exchanges. Each session will recall three names of people or groups (including writers, musicians, and painters), and three names of places or utopian non-places, on all three continents over the last three centuries to show the intermingling of conceptions and practices that redefined the space-time of what Paul Gilroy called "the black Atlantic."
NOTE: Course is currently pending approval by Columbia's Committee on Instruction and under consideration for approval as a Global Core course.
NEW COURSE: Paris Mosaic. 3 points.
Instructor: Christelle Taraud
Focusing on different communities in their relations and interactions with their native lands, this course – based on an anthropological-historical approach - will lead us to reconsider the history of Paris, of France, of Europe, and of the colonial and post-colonial world. Through the study of these communities, students will understand the
migration paths of many immigrants (and of their children, who have become French citizens) from other parts of Europe, but also from the Caribbean, the Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as from Asia and Oceania. Through this lens, we will link the past to the present, and gain perspective on contemporary debates — including multiculturalism, immigration (regulated and clandestine), integration, identity, the question of secularism, the place of Islam, etc. — facing French society today.
NOTE: Course is under consideration for approval as a Global Core.
Will Kenick, Academic Year, 2015-16
Will Kenick, Academic Year, 2015-16
Columbia Core Courses in Paris
Columbia students can meet Columbia Core requirements in Paris. Each semester, the program offers at least one course approved as a Global Core (taught in French) and Art Humanities or Music Humanities (taught in English.)
Art Humanities and Music Humanities are currently scheduled as follows:
Fall 2017: Music Humanities
Spring 2018: Art Humanities
Fall 2018: Music Humanities
Taking Art Humanities or Music Humanities in Paris is an exceptional opportunity to take these key Columbia courses in small classes with several excursions. Courses may be open to non-Columbia students on a case-by-case basis, space permitting.
French University Courses
All students take a minimum of one course at the French universities. Like your home university, you will have course choices in many different disciplines. You choose the university in which you’ll take classes before you leave for Paris. During orientation, you will work with an on-site adviser to choose your university course(s). In most cases, your major/concentration department will need to review the courses to determine if you can apply credit towards your major/concentration.
Columbia University works with the following universities in Paris:
Sciences Po: The program offers a limited number of opportunities to enroll in classes at Sciences Po. Enrollment at Sciences Po is reserved for students who major or concentrate in Political Science or International Relations, who intend to take courses in their major while in Paris. Depending on availability, students with other majors who show a strong engagement with fields strongly represented at Sciences Po may be considered for enrollment. Students are restricted to taking courses offered in French and within their major fields of study. Admission to the Columbia in Paris Program does not guarantee admission to Sciences Po and students who wish to be considered must undertake an additional application process upon admission to the Columbia in Paris Program. Students who are not admitted to Sciences Po have the opportunity to take challenging courses in related disciplines at the other universities and through the program's own offerings.
University of Paris I (Panthéon Sorbonne): The University of Paris I is a leading research and education institution in France, which ranks among the best 100 universities worldwide. It is known for having strong departments in art history and archeology, history, law and philosophy.
University of Paris IV (Sorbonne): Located in the heart of the Latin Quarter, the University of Paris IV - Sorbonne is the oldest university in France and one of the first universities in the world. Characterized by a rich culture and tradition, it is especially renowned for its excellent academic programs in literature, languages, arts and the humanities.
University of Paris VII (Denis Diderot): Paris VII is the only multidisciplinary university in Paris to offer a wide range of courses in the humanities, medicine and science. In 2007, its administration and departments relocated on the South banks of the Seine, near the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. The new campus attracts hundreds of international students each year and houses the largest university library in Paris.
Directed Research: Highly-motivated students who enjoy working independently will find this option challenging and rewarding. Under the supervision of a French scholar they explore a specific topic in depth and acquire both the methodological and analytical skills necessary for academic research. Students can also select to do a translation or French creative writing project. Students meet with their mentor weekly and complete a mémoire, a research paper of at least 25 pages, for the semester. Students conduct research in French, but may write their final mémoire in English.
Institute Pasteur: Science students have the unique opportunity to work with a ground-breaking research team at the Institut Pasteur in the laboratory of "Biochimie et Biophysique des Macromolecules", headed by Deshmukh N. Gopaul. Students are expected to work on experiments and assist researchers with their work. They present their findings in both oral and written reports.
Visual Arts at Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne: Visual Arts majors at Columbia can apply to study studio arts at Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. This option allows students to participate in the Columbia in Paris program and take a studio art courses in the L'U.F.R des Arts plastiques et Sciences de l'Art.
Grades and Transcipts
All courses taken on the program are converted to an American grading scale and transmitted to students as follows:
Columbia students: Grades appear on SSOL and your transcript any semester grades from courses taken at Columbia. For more information, please see the section on Academic Credit in Steps to Study Abroad.
Barnard students: Grades appear on eBear and your transcript as any semester grades from courses taken at Barnard. For more information, please see the section on Credit and Transcripts for Barnard Students on our Barnard student pages.
University of Pennsylvania students: The program sends grades directly to Penn for direct posting on the Penn transcript. Please review Penn's guidelines on grades and credit.
Non-Columbia students: Grades are entered into Columbia system and you will need to request a transcript to obtain your final grades. Please see the section on Credit and Transcripts for Non-Columbia Students on the Non-Columbia student pages.
Life in Paris
The most popular option for students wishing to deepen their experience with Parisian life is to live with a local family in a homestay. Students who want more independence can opt for a dorm room or can choose to opt out of program housing and find their own lodging.
A highlight of this program is the opportunity to live with a francophone family, giving you the opportunity to live like a true Parisian. Homestays are located throughout Paris and the nearby suburbs, allowing you to get to know a less touristy version of Paris. You’ll have your own room and share common spaces with your host family. You will choose the number of meals to share with them (0-5 per week), giving you the chance to practice your language skills and to learn about the French perspective on the world. About 85% of program students choose to live with a host family to experience firsthand the daily rhythm of French life, learn about Paris from an insider's perspective, and be immersed in a living situation that encourages conversations in French rather than English.
French Student Residences
You can also choose to live in a dorm in Paris. This is different than the residential dorm experience at a college in the United States, offering greater independence and fewer amenities.
Finally, you can choose to your own housing outside of the program. Resources for doing so will be provided in the program handbook, but you should be aware that the program does not offer support for housing once students opt out of program housing.
No meals are included in the program fee and there is no meal plan, unless you have chosen meals with your host family. There are grocery stores, boulangeries, fromageries, and charcuteries where you can buy food supplies for casual dining.
There are several low-budget travel guides that give information about where to eat in Paris. In addition, there are many blogs devoted eating in Paris. We recommend that you research beforehand if you aren’t sure what to expect.
The program offers many activities that will help students engage with the cultural life of Paris including:
- social and cultural activities with French university students
- excursions with French student groups to the Loire Valley, Vaux le Vicomte, Mont Saint Michel, and Belgium
- French cuisine and wine workshops
- local concerts, plays, and performances
- student teaching and volunteer opportunities
In addition, the Columbia Global Center has many musical, artistic, and intellectual events throughout the year that are open to students on the program at no charge.
Daily Living and Schedule
The daily schedule will depend on where you have your classes and will change throughout the semester. At the beginning of the semester, you will likely be at Reid Hall almost every day. Later, you may only come to Reid Hall a few times a week.
You will need to allow extra time for getting to class since you will likely commute 35-45 minutes from where you live.
Located in the lively Montparnasse (sixth) district of Paris, near the Luxembourg Gardens and within walking distance of the Latin Quarter and several branches of the University of Paris, Reid Hall was built in the early 18th century, before the French Revolution. Modern additions have enlarged the facility, creating an interior courtyard and private garden overflowing with trees and flowers. Reid Hall primarily houses administrative offices and classrooms and also has a small reference library, a reading room, lounges, and two large conference rooms. Students have access to WiFi in classrooms and all common areas of Reid Hall.
The program is hosted by Columbia's Global Center in Paris. The Global Center is animated by many events both from students and the Columbia and local community and provides the sense of a campus community in Paris for many students.
You will have many questions throughout the phases of your experience abroad. Once you have reviewed the applicable information on this site, please feel free to contact our office.
Please feel free to contact the adviser listed at the bottom of this page with questions.
For staff and faculty in Paris, please see the Paris-based Columbia in Paris site.
Many students use a combination of federal student aid and home school grants to fund their undergraduate studies. Many, if not most, of these funds are applicable to studying abroad for a semester or academic year. The costs of studying abroad during the semester or academic year are frequently comparable to those of staying on campus.
All students should work with their home school financial aid office to determine what aid is available for studying abroad.
For more information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below: