Skip Navigation

Smith in Geneva

Boats on the river

Home to the United Nations, Geneva is a cosmopolitan city located on the beautiful Lac Léman. Study at the University of Geneva and/or at the Graduate Institute for International Studies and Development. International internship opportunities are available with human rights, security, environment and development organizations.

Application Deadline

Smith student applications for the 2024-25 Academic Year and for Fall 2024 are due by Monday, February 5, 2024. Smith Programs Abroad accept applications from students of any gender identity. Guest student applications will be accepted until the second Monday in March (March 11, 2024) on a space-available, rolling basis; applying by the February deadline is encouraged.



The program begins with a three-week orientation including intensive French language study, culture and history courses, and excursions. During the semester, students study in French and/or English and follow one of the three program tracks.

Choose Your Curricular Track

Track A. International Internship Program
Intern at an international organization at least three days per week; study French; take the core Humanitarianism and Practicum courses at the Smith Center; enroll in at least one Graduate Institute or University of Geneva course. Available fall or spring; can be combined with Track B or C for a year-long option. Applicants for the fall semester may apply with no prior French study.  Applicants for the spring semester are expected to have at least one semester of college-level French or the equivalent.
Track B. University Studies Program
This track welcomes students from every discipline in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences. Students take French at the Smith Center and choose additional courses at the University of Geneva according to their interests, major and level of French. Available for the academic year for students with two years of college-level French or equivalent; and spring for students with at least one year of French or equivalent.
Track C. International Relations Program
Enroll in four Smith Center and Graduate Institute courses each semester, including French language. Take a core Humanitarianism course at the Smith Center along with other International Studies/Development courses at the Graduate Institute. Available fall or spring. Can be combined with Tracks A or B for a year-long option. Applicants for the fall semester may apply with no prior French study.  Applicants for the spring semester are expected to have at least one semester of college-level French or the equivalent.


Resident Academic Director: Geneviève Piron, Ph.D.
Smith Faculty Liaison: Brent Durbin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Government
Local program staff: Aurélia Cochet


About the Smith Center

The centrally located Smith Center houses the offices of the resident academic director and the associate director, who provide academic advising and friendly guidance. The Smith Center has a study lounge with internet, computers and a printer, a small library, a classroom, and a kitchenette.

Histories of Globalization(s): Themes and Issues in Humanitarian Responses (taught in English)

This class explores the history and politics of international organizations and humanitarian interventions. Through the practical case study of Geneva, it aims to provide students with critical tools to challenge a number of commonplace assumptions about the role of governmental and non-governmental organizations in the world from a global history and political perspective.

French Without Borders

French classes for all levels are based on linguistic training and immersion in the local and international environment. Beginners are taught the basics of language in a dynamic, communicative way adapted to the needs of everyday life (sometimes courses are provided at the University of Geneva when there are few students on the program). Intermediate and advanced students review and develop their linguistic skills, while exploring transdisciplinary topics such as Swiss Culture Throughout History, Francophonies, The European Idea, Translation in Perspective, etc.

Practicum in International Organizations

This is a required course for students enrolled in Track A. Designed to support the learning objectives of the internship placement, students choose a research topic related to the organization, or areas of expertise of the organization, where they are interning, and meet regularly with a mentor that helps them with their academic research. Students produce a 20-page well documented research paper in either French or English at the end of the term.

Photo of the University of Geneva

University of Geneva Courses

All students in Tracks A and B may choose to enroll in Université de Genève courses from the faculties/departments listed below. The language requirement to take full advantage of the courses is advanced. Some courses taught in English are available for students with less than two years of French. These are offered primarily in the spring semester in the English Department, Global Studies Institute, and Economics.

Faculté des Lettres

Courses in classical studies, gender studies, French, English, cinema, art history, history, civilization in the Middle Ages, linguistics, comparative literature, musicology, philosophy. For foreign languages (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian), classes include more hours than at Smith.

Faculté de Sciences de la Société (SDS) and Faculté d'économie et de management (GSEM)

Courses in social sciences, political science, socioeconomics, economics, international management, and international trade.

Global Studies Institute (GSI)

Courses in international economics, history, anthropology, international law, and international relations.

Faculté de Traduction et d'Interprétation (FTI)

One of the oldest translation schools in the world, the FTI of the Université de Genève offers courses in translation, linguistics, multilingual communication, and interpretation.

Other Faculties

The university also houses the Faculté des SciencesFaculté de Psychologie et d'Education and the Faculté de Théologie. The Schools of Medicine and Law are not open to students on the Smith Geneva Program.

Photo of the Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development

The Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development Courses

Students on Tracks A and C will enroll in courses in fields of international studies at the Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development in Geneva. Track A students may enroll in one of the undergrad courses; Track C students will enroll in one of the undergrad courses and one MA course. The Institute offers courses in Anthropology, Economics, History, Law, Political Science, Sociology.

Courses are provided in French or English, although all papers and oral presentations can be in either language. The Graduate Institute is a unique institution that links the academic world and international organizations. All students on the program can benefit from its libraries and unique research atmosphere.

Smith College also has a separate joint BA+MA degree program with the Graduate Institute.

Program Dates

Arrive in Geneva

Friday, August 25


Monday, August 28 – Friday, September 15

Fall Semester 2023

  • University and Smith Center courses begin: Monday, September 18
  • Fall courses end: Friday, December 22
  • Housing for fall-semester students ends: Monday, December 25
  • University fall exams (for full-year students only): January 22 – February 9 (to be confirmed)

Winter Break

(for full-year students)

Friday, December 22, 2022 – Sunday, February 18, 2023

Spring Semester 2024 Program Orientation

(for spring-only students)
  • Arrive in Geneva: Friday, January 26
  • Orientation: Monday, January 29 – Friday, February 16

Spring Semester 2024

  • University and Smith Center courses begin: Monday, February 19
  • Spring Break: Friday, March  29 - Sunday, April 7
  • Spring Semester ends: Friday, May 311
  • Spring Semester University exams: Monday, June 3 – Saturday, June 22 (to be confirmed)
  • Housing and insurance ends: Sunday, June 232

1The end date of the program depends on the student's choice of track and classes and can only be determined after advising. Track A and C students taking classes at the Graduate Institute can be finished on June 1, 2024. Track B students must take classes at the University of Geneva and usually have final exams.

2In the spring, students may stay in their rooms after June 23, 2024 if a final exam is scheduled after that date. In this case, the student may stay two days beyond the last exam date.

Life in Geneva

Group of students posing while eating in Geneva

Student Residences

Year-long Students

Year-long students live in international student residences in the center of Geneva. The CUP residences (Centre Universitaire Protestant), house students in fully equipped apartments which enable them to integrate into the life of the city and University.

Each student has a single room in a suite with kitchen, bathrooms and common space that is shared with three to seven others. Students find it economical to buy groceries with the program-provided living stipend, and to cook for themselves and with their suitemates. There are many opportunities to connect with local students, including the popular wintertime University hosted ski trips.

Depending on capacity, students staying for the whole year can also be placed in the other residences (see below).

Fall or Spring Semester Students

Fall or spring semester students occupy single or double rooms in different student residences: Cité Universitaire, a big community building for University of Geneva students, Grand Morillon, a new international students residence for Graduate Institute students and interns, or Home St-Pierre, a cozy women’s residence located in a historic building in the Old Town. In all instances, students have access to kitchen facilities and wifi. Semester students also receive a food stipend for their meals and have many opportunities to participate in University of Geneva cultural and sports activities.

Activities & Excursions

The city of Geneva, the surrounding region of western France, and destinations throughout Switzerland offer students a wide range of activities during the academic year.

Cultural Excursions

During orientation, a two-day trip is organized to help students socialize and discover the region: for instance, Burgundy (night in a castle, bike trip in the vineyard, and wine tasting) or Swiss Mountains (night in a chalet, sleigh ride, chocolate workshop)

During the semester typical day trips can include the medieval Château of Chillon, the Swiss capital of Bern, the medieval French city of Yvoire and the Lavaux vineyards (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Cultural Activities

Small group and individual outings to the theater, the opera, the museums and to lectures on politics and international relations. The Association of the International Students in Geneva (Exchange Student Network) offers a warm welcome and organizes parties and events; the University of Geneva offers a variety of cultural activities such as theatre, dance, cinema club, choir, etc.

Sports Activities

The University of Geneva offers a wide range of sport activities. Among other activities, enjoy sailing or rowing on the beautiful Lac Léman, horseback riding, alpinism or a ski trip to the French or Swiss Alps.

Cultural Immersion

Occasional invitations from alumnae families to join them for discussions of the "Swiss way of life."

Please be sure you meet Smith College's eligibility requirements for approval to study abroad. In addition, Smith in Geneva has its own program-specific requirements. Women and men from four-year colleges are invited to apply. All program tracks require a 3.0 GPA. 

Curricular Track Requirements

Track A: International Internship Program
  • There is no French language requirement for the fall semester. For spring semester, students must have completed at least one semester of college-level French or equivalent required; ability to communicate in elementary French expected
  • Evidence of maturity, responsibility and preparation for study abroad and interning in an international organization
Track B: University Studies Program
  • Two years of college-level French or equivalent required for full-year enrollment; at least one year of French or equivalent required for spring enrollment
  • Evidence of maturity, responsibility and preparation for study abroad
Track C: International Relations Program
  • There is no French language requirement for the fall semester. For spring semester, students must have completed at least one semester of college-level French or equivalent required; ability to communicate in elementary French expected
  • Background in political science, government, or economics
  • Evidence of maturity, responsibility and preparation for study abroad

Accepted Students

For resources and information about the Swiss visa application process, please visit the Geneva Accepted Students website.