A time-lapse photo of the Eiffel Tower at sunset

Columbia in Paris

Language of Instruction: French
Term: Academic Year, Spring, Fall

Live in the Ville Lumière and immerse yourself in the vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere of one of the most storied capitals in the world.  

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Columbia in Paris has been converted to a virtual program for Spring 2021 in order to adhere to local health and safety guidelines to address the COVID-19 pandemic. For students interested in participating during Spring 2021, please visit the Virtual Columbia in Paris program page.

Spend a semester or the full academic year drawing upon the resources of one of the world’s most fabled and beloved capitals. Take one-of-a-kind courses, pursue individual research, and master the French language. Immerse yourself in the city's rich history and multi-cultural fabric. Find your passion and lose yourself in the City of Light.

Overall I felt my experience was incredible, unforgettable, eye-opening, and transformative -- Fall 2018 participant

Program Overview

The program encourages you to challenge yourself both academically and personally. Immersing yourself in the French language through your coursework and daily life, you will push yourself beyond your comfort zone and expand your ways of thinking. By the end of the semester or year, you will find yourself more confident in your role as a global citizen, capable of living, working, and affecting change beyond your national boundaries.

Students in 18th century dress in castle.

Depending on your goals and interests, you will choose from a broad range of options in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. You will take at least one required language course at Reid Hall. You select the rest if your courses from Columbia in Paris electives or at French universities. The program provides academic support and mentoring throughout the program to support you in making the most of your time in Paris.

All coursework (except for Art Humanities or Music Humanities) is in French. French university faculty teach the elective courses at Reid Fall and are committed to undergraduate teaching in a small seminar setting to encourage in-class discussion and debate. French university courses will range from lectures to seminars.

This was one of the loveliest experiences ever. I've changed so much for the better and I don't want to leave! -- Fall 2018 participant

A highlight of the program is the opportunity to engage with local resources. Past students have conducted research in archives with primary materials, engaged with local experts, artists, and writers on important contemporary issues, and participated in academic conferences.

This is a wonderful program, run by wonderful people! Organized, enriching, attentive to the well-being of students. It really is structured with us in mind...It really does give a whole experience -- academics and living in Paris -- Fall 2018 participant

Columbia students may be able to fulfill Core requirements while abroad by enrolling in either Art or Music Humanities, along with a Global Core class.

Eligibility and Application

  • Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate student and in good academic and disciplinary standing. Students from universities and colleges other than Columbia are welcome to apply.
  • 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)


Depending on your French proficiency at the start of the program, you will be required to take either one or two language courses in addition to three to four electives. Those electives include:

Black and white photo of students in Paris
  • Specially-developed courses, taught exclusively for the program, that draw on the rich urban fabric of the city.
  • University courses encompassing most undergraduate disciplines including the visual arts and the sciences.
  • The opportunity to conduct a Directed Research project base on your personal specialization and interests, under the guidance of leading thinkers and scholars in your discipline.
  • Columbia Core courses, including Art Humanities, Music Humanities, and Reid-Hall-specific Global Core courses.

For information on recent courses, please see the Paris-based Columbia in Paris program website.

Please note that at least one elective must be taken at an affiliated French university. More information about partner institutions may be found below.

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

French is the main language of interaction at Reid Hall and engagement with the language is a foundation of the program. You will receive robust support as you develop your linguistic abilities through specialized instruction, individual tutoring, and connections to outside resources.

Based on the results of a language assessment during the orientation, you will take part in either one or two language courses. Both courses are designed to help you succeed in your academic work in French.

Academic Writing

This three-week intensive course is mandatory for every student as it introduces them to some of the major differences between French and American ways of approaching academic analysis and production. Course content varies with the level.

Language Practicum

This course, taken by students who place into Level I or II, is a language course at the intermediate and upper intermediate level. Its aims is to sharpen students’ linguistic skills to prepare them for their life in France as a student. It meets twice a week for five hours over 12 weeks and finishes before final work for other classes becomes due. Course content varies in each level.

Test de Connaissance du Francais (TCF)

At the end of their language curriculum, students take a standardized French Language exam called Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF). This test, similar to TOEFL, and recognized in 39 countries, enables students interested in returning to France for post-graduate work (professional or academic) to demonstrate their French language ability.

Content (non-Language) courses

Once you know which French language courses you are taking, you will select your remaining courses from the options below. For more information on current semester courses and scheduling, please visit the Paris-based Columbia Undergraduate Programs in Paris site.

Program Courses

Taught by French faculty in French, these courses have been specifically designed for the program to actively engage students with local resources. Typically, writers, government leaders, and scholars are invited as guest speakers in class, and several courses are taught on-site in museums or around monuments, using the Parisian cityscape as an extension of classroom learning. Courses may include an academic conference or film screening in which faculty and students are invited to engage with a larger audience open to the public. For recent courses and descriptions please see the local Columbia in Paris website.

Spring 2021 Courses

AHIS OC3682: Issues in Nineteenth Century Art. 3 points.

Instructor: Nicolas Baudouin

In this course, students will focus on a key artistic period that is full of upheavals. The course will particularly consider the affirmation of the individuality of the artist in relation to the institutions and great pictorial movements that have marked the history of French painting of that time.

Pending approval by Columbia's Committee on Instruction.

FREN 3817 O: Paris noir/Black Paris. 3 points.

Instructor: Stéphanie Bérard

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.

This course is approved as a Global Core at Columbia.

FRST OC3994: History: 20th Century Wars in France​. 3 points.

Instructor: Julien Blanc

This course aims to analyze the different wars in which France was involved during the “dark 20th century”. From the “Tranchées” of World War I to the end of the Algerian war, through the disaster of June 1940 and the German occupation, we are going to study the most dramatic events of French contemporary history. Based on different types of documents (articles, speeches, diaries, paintings, literature, memoirs and several movies), the course will explore the political choices and behaviors of the population, the social and cultural fields (what war changes?) as well as questions of memories and representations, with a special focus on films.

FRST OC3827: Politics in Europe – European politics. 3 points.

Instructor: Cédric Moreau de Bellaing

Migrant management, breakthrough of Eurosceptic parties, criticism on all sides of European governance: the European Union has been undergoing for some years now a deep internal crisis, at the very moment when its leaders have chosen to strengthen the political construction of the Union. The main objective of the course will be to question the current situation of the EU by cross-examining the institutional and political functioning of the Union with forms of transnationalization of the political life of European countries.

WMST OC3550. Women & Society – The Sex-Trade economy. 3 points

Instructor: Christelle Taraud

Based on an interdisciplinary, intersectional, subalternist and post-colonial approach, this course is a general introduction to the history, sociology and anthropology of the economy of the sex-trade in Africa, America, Asia and Europe from the early nineteenth century to today. It aims to clarify: 1) the historiographical situation by questioning and analyzing the French regulatory system and its many avatars in Europe, the United States and in the colonial world, but also questioning the backlash to this system that consisted firstly of the abolitionist (born in England in the second half of the nineteenth century) and then the prohibitionist movements; 2) The relationship between class, “race” and gender in the sex market via issues of human trafficking and sex tourism in Europe, America, Africa and Asia; 3) The socio-economic issue - and its political connections – in the economy of sex with particular attention to individuals (prostitutes versus sex workers), their voices, their legal status, and even their mobilization (rallies and demonstrations, community collectives and trade unions, political and / or literary publications), but also the many heated debates that these demands for recognition and these mobilizations have provoked in places as diverse as France, the Netherlands and India to take only three specific examples in the world covered in the course.

This course is approved as a Global Core at Columbia.

French University Courses

All students are required to take at least one course at an affiliated French university. As with any American university, there will be course offerings in many different disciplines. Students will decide which university best suits their academic interests before leaving for Paris. However, during orientation, students will work with their Columbia in Paris adviser to select specific courses. In most cases, your major or concentration department will need to review the courses to determine if they will be accepted as credit towards your degree.

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 areas 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 most extensive university library in Paris.

Institute Pasteur: Science students have the unique opportunity to work with a ground-breaking research team at the Institut Pasteur under the supervision of Deshmukh N. Gopaul, the head of Design for Biology Center. This center is a new multidisciplinary project-oriented teaching and research facility. It includes a section on synthetic biology linked to the iGEM class (international Genetically Engineered Machines), innovative applied research in biology, and a Fab-Lab. The purpose of the internship is to enable students to put into practice their theoretical knowledge and methods by working on experiments and assist researchers with their work. Students are expected to present their findings in both oral and written reports at the end of the semester. Main skills to develop and acquire: molecular biology, cloning bacterial expression of proteins and characterization of expression by SDS PAGE.

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'UFR des Arts Plastiques et Sciences de l'Art de Paris 1.

Columbia Core Courses in Paris

Columbia students can meet Columbia Core requirements in Paris. Each semester, the program typically offers at least one course approved as a Global Core (taught in French) and Art Humanities or Music Humanities (taught in English.)

Note: Columbia Core Courses are generally open only to Columbia students. Space permitting, and on a case-by-case basis, non-Columbia students may be allowed to enroll.Note: Columbia Core Courses are generally open only to Columbia students. Space permitting, and on a case-by-case basis, non-Columbia students may be allowed to enroll.

Directed Research Option

One of the highlights of on the Columbia in Paris program is undertaking a Directed Research Project. Highly-motivated students who enjoy working independently will find this option challenging and rewarding. Under the supervision of a French scholar, they will explore a specific topic in depth and acquire both the methodological and analytical skills necessary for advanced academic research. Students may also decide to do a translation or creative writing project. Students meet with their mentor weekly and complete a mémoire – a research paper of at least 25 pages. Students conduct research in French but may elect to write their final mémoire in English

Academic Support

All students work with academic advisers who oversee their progress throughout the semester and assist with academic aspects of the program.

In addition, students enrolled in French university courses will be assigned both linguistic and methodological tutors so that they may achieve their highest level of work. Tutors are active academics in the field and an invaluable resource for students intellectual and academic development.


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's 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

Your daily life in Paris will be made up of moments, equally beautiful and challenging, that will help you construct your overall experience. The program will empower you with the tools to confront the myth of the city as it is commonly perceived and transform you into an active participant of its dynamic, multi-cultural life. Through immersive homestays and activities with local students and scholars, Columbia in Paris will invite you to explore the city in all of its fascinating contradictions and experience it in a way most can only dream of – as a real Parisian.


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 chance to live like a true Parisian, off the beaten tourist path. Homestays are located throughout Paris and the nearby suburbs and never more than a short train ride from Reid Hall. You will have your own room and share common spaces with your host family and may elect to share meals with them. Sharing meals in France is not only an excellent opportunity to practice your language skills but the chance to partake in an essential part of French culture. 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 French-speaking environment.

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.

Non-Program Housing

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 to eat with your host family. Grocery stores, boulangeries, fromageries, and charcuteries are abundant in Paris, and you will have no problem buying food supplies for casual dining. Countless low-budget travel guides and blogs will give information about where to eat 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

Also, the Columbia Global Center has a robust program of concerts, art openings, symposiums and discussions throughout the year that are open to students on the program, free of 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 likely commute 35-45 minutes to class daily. This is part of Parisian life.


Located in the lively Montparnasse (sixth) district of Paris, Reid Hall was originally a porcelain factory, built in the early 18th century, before the French Revolution. Conveniently located near the Luxembourg Gardens, it is within walking distance of the Latin Quarter, as well as several branches of the University of Paris.

Today, Reid Hall primarily houses administrative offices and classrooms and also has a small reference library, a student lounge, and two large conference rooms. Students have access to WiFi in classrooms and all common areas of Reid Hall.

Reid Hall is known as a dynamic hub of art, culture, and intellect. At the center of this activity is its interior courtyard and private garden, overflowing with trees and flowers. Idyllic, Reid Hall is perfectly suited to be Columbia's location in Paris and gives students, faculty, and alumni a campus feeling in the heart of Paris.


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.

New York

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.

Financial Considerations

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.

Please see below for the cost breakdowns for detailed information on all program-related expenses:

Academic Year 2020-2021

Fall 2020:

Spring 2021 :

*Please Note: Tuition and fees are subject to Board of Trustee approval and may change*

Finding Funding

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

Resources for Accepted Students

Fact Sheet

Arts and Architecture, Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM
Barnard College, Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia General Studies, Non-Columbia Undergraduates
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirement:
4 semesters of language, or equivalent (Intermediate sequence)
Academic Year, Spring, Fall

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Thursday, October 1, 2020
Admissions Decision Date: 
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Program Dates: 
Sunday, January 10, 2021 to Friday, May 14, 2021
Program dates are subject to change. Mandatory orientation will start on 01/11 and departure date will depend on individual exam schedules.