Columbia Summer in Paris: French and Francophone Studies

Language of Instruction: English, French
Term: Summer

Improve your French while learning about French culture and exploring the city.  

The next application deadline is Feb 15, 2018
See other program dates

The program invites you to explore all that the city of Paris has to offer, while providing you with flexible options in both French and English to meet your academic goals. From rapid progress in your French language skills to understanding contemporary issues in France through an exploration of culture and history, our small classes allow for individualized attention and the chance to get to know your instructors and classmates as you go outside of the typical tourist experience to gain an insider’s view of the city.

Program Overview

The program offers two types of courses; French language courses and French/Francophone Culture courses, some of which are taught in English. You choose your courses based on your individual preferences and language level. All classes are capped at 12-16 students to provide the greatest interaction with the professor and your peers. You must comply with the prerequisites listed for each course and must take a total of 6, 7, or 8 points on the program.

Throughout the program, activities are planned in conjunction with the courses to offer more cultural exposure to the city.

You have the option to increase your exposure to French by living in a homestay and sharing 3 meals per week with your family, or you can live in a dorm or find your own housing.

Eligibility and Application

  • Currently enrolled undergraduate students in good academic and disciplinary standing
  • Graduate students and post-graduates are all eligible to apply
  • Minimum 3.0 average language GPA (if applicable)
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Students must meet prerequisites for individual courses

How to apply

Want to apply? Click the “Start Your Application" button at the top of this page. If the button doesn't appear, 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
  • Official transcript(s)


Participants choose their courses from those listed below depending on their language level and goals for the summer.

Note: The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.

Language courses

Students who have completed the elementary year of French (or the equivalent) can choose different options to continue their French language studies depending on their academic goals and curricular needs. The language courses listed below are all designed to help you make progress in your linguistic skills.

Courses below are from Summer 2017. Course offerings and instructors for Summer 2018 will be posted by the end of January.

FREN O1205 Accelerated Intermediate French I and II. 8 points.
Prerequisites: One year of college-level French or the equivalent.

Covering the entire second year of French, this course is highly intensive and requires a high level of commitment from students. Students applying for this course should have a strong background in Elementary French or significant experience with another Romance language. The course is capped at 12 participants and is for students who are strongly committed to working on their French for several hours a day. An additional interview may be required for admission.

This course is for students who want to make rapid and solid progress in their French language skills in a short amount of time by focusing exclusively on language acquisition for the duration of the summer.

FREN O1201 Intermediate French I. 4 points.
Prerequisites: One year of college-level French or the equivalent.

Providing the time to absorb the grammar of the first half of second year French, this course will be organized around the concepts of space and movement: from the very intimate spaces that students will be inhabiting, to the most public ones through which they will be moving. This course will provide the grammatical and cultural tools to describe, analyze, and even shape the spatial relationship to the city that will be home for 8 weeks.

Students will be working with a variety of French and Francophone primary texts – written, cinematic, theatrical, plastic – but most importantly, they will be engaging with Paris and its diverse inhabitants daily, allowing the city itself to be their most essential text. Students will develop strategic problem-solving skills as they acquire linguistic competence. The course is capped at 12 participants and an additional interview may be required for admission.

Prerequisites: Three semesters of college-level French or the equivalent.

Covering all grammatical structures in Columbia's Intermediate II curriculum, the course will cover grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary by reading literary and non-literary texts, such as excerpts from novels, newspaper articles, and university essays. Students will write their own essays, short narratives and descriptions and keep a journal. Students will improve their analytic and critical-thinking skills through textual analysis.

FREN O2223: Intermediate Conversation: Mapping Hidden Paris Through Urban Diversity/Promenades secrètes à travers la diversité parisienne. 3 points
Prerequisites: 2- 3 semesters of college-level French or the equivalent.

This 8-week summer course is designed for non-native speakers who have completed a minimum of one year (two semesters) of French at the beginner’s level. The objective of this class is to provide a pedagogical structure for students to take full advantage of their immersion experience in Paris. The course will be comprised of a mix of classroom and excursion time, with 30 hours of in-class activities especially dedicated to hone students’ aural and oral skills, and 12 hours of targeted, small-group explorations in the city. The theme of this summer’s class is “Promenades secrètes.” During these eight weeks, we will focus on the hidden, quirky, unusual sides of Paris, structured around different and varied groups of people who have inhabited Paris and left their mark: artists, immigrants, workers, students, aristocrats, laborers, etc. The excursions will take the students to out of the ordinary places hidden within Paris: village streets, odd museums, mansions, contemporary ephemeral street art, underground urban networks, flea markets, and so on. Students will spend time in the classroom and at home preparing for their excursions by studying documentaries, short movies, songs, poems, pamphlets, drawings and paintings. Students will work towards a final presentation at the end of the eight weeks, “Mon Paris,” centered on the relationship between identity and Paris as an urban text.

FREN O3405 3rd Year Grammar and Composition. 3 points.
Prerequisites: Two years of college-level French or the equivalent.

The goal of this course is to help students improve their grammar and perfect their writing and reading skills, especially as a preparation for taking literature or civilization courses. Students who have not yet taken the equivalent of fifth semester French will be required to take this course in Paris if they want to take a culture course taught in French. Through the study of two full-length works of literature and a number of short texts representative of different genres, periods, and styles, they will become more aware of stylistic nuances, and will be introduced to the vocabulary and methods of literary analysis. Working on the advanced grammar points covered in this course will further strengthen their mastery of French syntax. They will also be practicing writing through a variety of exercises, including pastiches and creative pieces, as well as typically French forms of academic writing such as "résumé," "explication de texte," and "dissertation".

French and Francophone Culture Courses

The French and Francophone culture courses are all designed to deepen your engagement with Paris and France. Taken in English or in French, these courses will challenge you to look at the history and culture of France from various perspective while using the city as an essential resource throughout the program.

For students who have not yet completed a 5th semester of French (or the equivalent) and who would like to take a culture course in French, we require that you take the Advanced Grammar and Composition course to support your linguistic proficiency in your other course.

Courses below are from Summer 2017. Course offerings and instructors for Summer 2018 will be posted by the end of January.

FREN OC3817: Black Paris. 3 points. Taught in English.
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Stephanie Bérard

Taught in English, this course aims to unveil a lesser known face of Paris linked to its colonial past in order to reread the present social, political and cultural landscape of France’s capital city. By visiting the hotspots of a forgotten Parisian black history, students will learn about the legacy of a colonial past often unknown and neglected. Sites will include the Latin Quarter which saw the birth of Negritude movement in the 1930s with the encounter of African and Caribbean intellectuals (Césaire, Senghor, Damas) and the foundation of the editions Présence Africaine with Alioune Diop; Saint Germain des Prés and Pigalle which celebrated jazz music in cabarets; the Museum of the history of immigration in Porte Dorée and the Musée des Arts Premiers at the Quai Branly. This itinerant historical approach of Paris will be complemented by an exploration of the contemporary cultural and artistic politics of the Black stage as possible in the summer.

The reading and analysis of literary and cinematographic works will allow students to tackle social, political and racial issues, and explore further the global dimension of today’s diasporic and multicultural France. By studying films such as Divines or plays like Bintou, we will discuss life in the suburbs (“la banlieue”) and address complex notions of “laïcité” and “integration.” This course will finally question how skin color and politics are deeply intertwined by attending the Commemoration of Slavery (May 10th) initiated by the former Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira, herself a victim of racism, and by examining the recent election of Dany Laferrière, Haitian writer, to the Académie Française. Does the cultural, intellectual and artistic capital that Paris was in the 1930s remain a cosmopolitan city open to the world?

This course has been approved to count as a Global Core for Columbia students.

W4100: Migration, Displacement and Diaspora in the French and North African Context, 3 Points. Taught in English.
Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Madeleine Dobie

Taught in English, this course will explore the social and political history of migration between France and Africa with particular emphasis on its representation through literature and film. The course will examine the political, economic and social forces that have shaped the landscape of migration in the nations of the Mediterranean rim since the 1950s and observe major transitions in policy and legal frameworks. Though migration is often approached in mainstream media as an object of policy and legislation, it can be viewed as a ‘total social fact’ in which political, social, economic and cultural dimensions are interwoven. With this in mind, the course will use different media, genres and narrative forms through which migration has been portrayed. Throughout the course, students will grapple with questions concerning the relationship between aesthetics and politics and between life experiences and representations.

The sources examined in the course include novels, feature and documentary films and political and legal discourses as well as analyses grounded in anthropological, sociological, and philosophical methodologies. Combining empirical with theoretical approaches, students will consider both the specific political, legal, social and economic contexts in which migration has occurred and broader conceptual questions about the status of ‘immigrants,’ ‘migrants’ and ‘refugees’ as social and cultural figures. Taking the view that local dynamics have to be situated in broader regional/global frameworks and vice versa, the course will examine both national framings of migration in countries including France, Morocco and Algeria and transnational and cross-regional dynamics.

This course has been approved to count as a Global Core for Columbia students.

FREN 0XXX Mosaic Paris: Community and Diversity in a “Global City." 3 points. Taught in French.
Prerequisites: 5 semesters of college-level French or the equivalent, or 4 semesters of college-level French and enrollment in Advanced Grammar and Composition.
Instructor: Christelle Taraud

This course is an introduction to the history, the sociology, and the anthropology of various communities in Paris. Focusing on different communities will lead us to reconsider the history of Paris, of France, of Europe, and of the colonial and post-colonial world, and will help explain the presence of the many immigrants (and of their children who have become French citizens) who have come from other parts of Europe, but also from the Caribbean, the Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa, as well as from Asia. Through this lens, we will link the past to the present and gain perspective on contemporary debates—including multiculturalism, immigration (regulated and clandestine), the question of secularism, the place of Islam, etc.—facing French society that arise precisely because of Paris’ status as a “global city.”

Please note that this course is under consideration to count as a Global Core at Columbia.

FREN O3994 Writing, Painting, and Photographing Paris in the 19th and 20th Centuries. 3 points. Taught in French.
Prerequisites: 5 semesters of college-level French or the equivalent, or 4 semesters of college-level French and enrollment in Advanced Grammar and Composition.
Instructor: Brian O'Keefe

The city of Paris fascinated writers, painters, and photographers. In this course, we will look at the variety of ways Paris has been represented in art. We will first read a novel by Balzac, in which the city is variously characterized as a monster, a mysterious woman and, rather surprisingly, a lobster. In Baudelaire’s poems,we will find Paris in transition, evolving into the capital of modernity. The Impressionists, both in painting and in certain texts by Zola and Goncourt, also reacted to the city’s modernity – at issue here is how we interpret the famous impressionistic ‘blur.’ At the beginning of the 20th century, we will allow ourselves a moment of nostalgia by looking at the photographs of Eugène Atget, before plunging into the surreal arcades of Aragon, Walter Benjamin, and Breton. We will compare their writing to visual artists like Man Ray and André Kertész – their works startle us by their strangeness, and change our perception of the city. Sessions in the classroom will be accompanied by excursions to museums and art performances in the city.

FREN O3690 Castles and Gardens. 3 points. Taught in French.
Prerequisites: 5 semesters of college-level French or the equivalent, or 4 semesters of college-level French and enrollment in Advanced Grammar and Composition.
Instructor: Linnéa Rollenhagen Tilly

It was during the seventeenth century that Paris began to compete with Rome as an art center; Thus the city and its surroundings served as an architectural laboratory for all of Europe. During the reign of Louis XIV, architects, artists and administrators of European courts were attracted by the splendors of Versailles. In Paris these men formed in the French way, seeked to meet connoisseurs, gather models and recruit artists. In the first half of the eighteenth century this attraction for the architecture of the Paris region was still growing. According to French principles, Peter the Great began to build St. Petersburg, to name but one example of the diffusion and adaptation of these models.

The French XVIIth century, otherwise called " le Grand siècle " will be at the heart of this course, where we will study architecture à la française, world renowned for its refinement. Through a selection of castles in Paris and Île de France, we will analyze the origins, the characteristics as well as exceptions of this architecture and landscape. We will also study the political and social context in which these ensembles were conceived, as well as the organization of the work sites and the technical progress that follows. By identifying the symbols of power and wealth we will consider the "discourses" and functions of these creations, as well as the men and women behind them (both sponsors and performers). Finally, we will try to follow the diffusion of the Parisian model in France, across Europe and in the world.

Academic Schedule

When selecting your courses, please make sure that the courses you choose are not in conflict with each other.

The schedule is posted in mid-February.

Life in Paris



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, which allows 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 share three dinners per week with them, giving you the chance to practice your language skills and to learn about the French perspective on the world.


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 to find their own housing outside of the program. Resources for doing so will be provided in the program handbook, but students 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 students have chosen to live in a homestay, in which case three dinners per week are provided. However, there are grocery stores, boulangeries, fromageries, and charcuteries where students 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. It is recommended that you research beforehand if you aren’t sure what to expect.


The program already has many course-related activities, as well as a few social events, that will help students engage with the cultural life of Paris. Past activities have included theater workshops, pottery, crépe-making, wine tasting, and excursions around Paris. You will have adequate time to explore Paris on your own and to soak up the ambiance of the city Paris in the summer. In addition, the Columbia Global Center|Paris has many activities throughout the summer that are open to students on the program at no charge.

Daily Living and Schedule

Depending on the specific courses you take, you will have different commitments for work outside of class. Your commute to Reid Hall will also be between 35-50 minutes, on average. Weekends are free and students are encouraged to travel within France or enjoy Paris on the weekends.


The home base of Columbia University in Paris is the Columbia Global Centers|Paris at Reid Hall, where all of your classes will take place. Reid Hall is a small group of buildings owned and administered by Columbia. It also serves as an educational center for other American universities and for scholars from around the world. For more than a century, its long and distinguished past of intellectual, artistic, and cultural exchange has made it significant for the relationship between France and the United States.

Reid Hall, constructed in the early 18th century before the French Revolution, is located in the lively Montparnasse (6th arrondissement) district of Paris, near the Luxembourg Gardens and within walking distance of the Latin Quarter and several branches of the University of Paris. Modern additions have enlarged the facility, creating an interior courtyard and private garden. Reid Hall primarily houses administrative offices and classrooms and also has a small reference library, a reading room, lounges, a multimedia lab, and two large conference rooms. Students have access to WiFi in all common areas of Reid Hall.



TBA for Summer 2018

Financial Considerations

Program Fee Summer 2017 (tuition only):

  • 6 points: $9,000
  • 7 points: $10,500
  • 8 Points: $12,000

Tuition and fees are subject to Board of Trustees approval and may change.

Estimated Out-of-Pocket expenses for the duration of the program: $4,450

Financial aid and scholarships

If you are on financial aid, check to see if it can be applied to studying abroad. In general summer financial aid is not available to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering students, but may be available to School of General Studies students. Non-Columbia students should check with their home schools for funding availability.

Funding Your Summer in Paris

Columbia undergraduate and Barnard students may apply for the following scholarship applicable to this program:
Beesen Global Travel Fellowships

For more general information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below:

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Admissions Decision Date: 
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Program Dates: 
Saturday, June 2, 2018 to Saturday, July 28, 2018