Skip Navigation

Smith in Paris

Photo of the Louvre in Paris

Paris is an intellectually stimulating hub of humanities, science, art and more. Choose courses from Parisian universities in addition to courses offered at Smith’s center in Montparnasse.

Application Deadline

Smith student applications are due on the first Monday in February (February 6, 2023). Guest students are encouraged to apply by the February deadline but will be accepted on a space-available, rolling basis up until the second Monday in March (March 13, 2023).



The Paris Program

The Paris Program welcomes students from every discipline in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences. Students in the Paris Program are free to choose their courses according to their interests and majors, which they may take at the Smith Center, along with our partners in the Three College Consortium—Smith, Hamilton, and Middlebury Colleges—and/or at one of our partner French universities—the Sorbonne Université or Université de Paris. Students majoring in Psychology may take a year-long course at the École des Psychologues Praticiens. Students majoring in Government or Economics may take two of their courses at the prestigious Institut d'études politiques de Paris, also known as "Sciences Po." Studio Art and Architecture students may study at the École Normale Supérieure d'Architecture Paris Val-de-Seine. Excursions and group cultural activities are a regular part of the program. Many students choose to stay in Paris or France after the Smith program ends to do a summer internship or pursue research, often with the support of a grant or fellowship.

Faculty Director: Howard Gold, Ph.D., Professor of Government
Local program staff: Marie-Madeleine Charlier, Resident Administrative Director

Les Sciences à Paris Option

Students in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering may choose to enroll in the Sciences à Paris option of the Paris program. While participating in all of the program's excursions and group cultural activities, students who select the year long SAP option follow a customized, science oriented curriculum, explicitly designed to familiarize them with the rich scientific traditions of France, as they acquire competence in French and experience the practice of science in an international context.

Architecture and Art History at Val de Seine

The Smith in Paris program offers students in architecture and art history the opportunity to study at the premier architecture school in Paris, the École Normale Supérieure d'Architecture Paris Val-de-Seine. Participants in this yearlong program combine coursework in architectural history, urban studies, language and culture with intensive studio work. As a result, students are fully immersed in a rigorous design program that engages with the architecture and urban history of Paris, and have the opportunity to interact—both academically and socially—with their French and international peers studying at Val de Seine.


About the Smith Center

Situated in the heart of Montparnasse, the Smith Center is housed at the renowned Reid Hall Global Center, a focal point of intellectual and cultural exchange for over a century. This is where the academic director and the administrative director have their offices. In addition, the Smith Center offers students a library, computer facilities, and classrooms. The academic director in Paris, appointed annually from the Smith College faculty, oversees the program, provides academic advising and offers guidance to university life in France. The program administrative director, a French resident, offers additional support and practical assistance on living in France. Students pledge to speak French at the Smith Center.


To supplement regular university coursework, special tutorials, arranged by the faculty director in consultation with individual students and based upon individual needs, are offered at the Smith Center.

Smith Center Courses

Please note: The following are typical courses taught at the center; actual courses may vary from year to year.

Langue AVANCEE 1

Offered in the fall

The objective of this course is to help students obtain French speaking and writing skills that are clear, logical, and well structured. In addition, the students will be exposed to correct grammar usage, a rich vocabulary, and the nuances behind expressions all of which can be found in the exploration of French culture. This course consists of a balance between the written and oral activities (structural exercises in grammar and vocabulary-both oral and written, presentations, stories, essays, discussions/debates, and reading/listening tests).

Langue AVANCEE 2

Offered in the fall

The goal of this course is to provide the students with a number of devices and techniques that will improve their writing skills. More precisely, we will focus on the specific constraints attached to "academic writing": the way the arguments are structured, organized, formulated in the French tradition of academic texts. Among other things, we will study ways to make the sentences more concise and efficient; we will also see how to formulate ideas in a simple and clear way. Grammatical and syntactic rules will be reminded, if it appears necessary. This language course is designed for more advanced students in French.

Composition, Reading and Writing (The Self)

Offered in the spring

This grammar and composition course aims to enhance students' reading and writing skills while offering the opportunity to read closely and critically and to discover the autobiographical genre in contemporary French literature. Every week, you will be assigned a reading that will be discussed in class (your participation is mandatory). As the semester goes by, you will feel more at ease with reading, writing and discussing complicated concepts or ideas in French. You will write several compositions, and will be asked, at the end of the semester, to create your own piece of autobiographical fiction, or “autofiction”, based on notions and literary themes that we will explore together. By reading and writing so systematically, you will learn how to construct more complex sentences and develop your thoughts in French in a more accurate way. In other words, this is not a typical grammar class, but you will improve your grammar in a very concrete way. 

Le Théâtre Contemporain sur la Scène Parisienne: Analyse de Spectacle

Offered in the spring

This course has three main objectives: its first objective is the discovery of some of major theatrical sites in Paris and in the suburban). Students will become familiar with trends and the contemporary scene, and will learn - the second objective of the course - how to analyze a mise en scène and develop methodological and aesthetic thoughts. Finally, for the third objective, the course will give the opportunity to read the study of dramatic works, belonging to the repertoire as well as contemporary writings.

Consortium Courses

Courses offered by Smith, Hamilton and Middlebury Colleges:

France Europe: Chronique d'une Relation Tumultueuse

Offered in the fall

This course aims to study French political life since the post-war (political systems, different governments, policies, reforms, etc.) within its European and international context. Particular emphasis will be put on the European policy of France, its motivation to build Europe, and the ambiguities of its relationship with the European Union. We will examine France's position at the center of the European construction as well as how France may hinder this construction.

Françafrique: Enjeux, Histoire et Politique

Offered in the fall

From 1850 to 1960, France's fate and that of Africa have been connected. To some extent, France and Africa have a common history which was led jointly by French regularity in Africa for several centuries, by the presence of Africans on the hexagonal soil, by the presence of African deputies at the Bourbon palace under the IV Republic and, recently, by immigration. We will see how this relationship is strangely prolonged, even strengthened after decolonization.

L'Union Européenne

Offered in the spring

This course aims to make students understand the challenges facing Europe as well as the major current debates, both economic and political, through the study of the European Union of today and yesterday. We begin by analyzing the logic that led to Europe and its origin. We also study the institutional and legal framework of Europe, which lies at the heart of its construction, as well as major current issues of the EU such as the functioning of the eurozone, the migration crisis, the question of the european citizenship, the climate change, the cooperation on security and defense or the action against COVID.

La Laïcité

Offered in the spring

This course will present the history of French secularism and its key debates. We will address the impact of religious wars (sixteenth century), the absolute power of the state in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the role of the Catholic Church in the monarchy of the ancient regime, the formulation of the idea of secularism in the Enlightenment, the installation of a "model" of secularism active in the Republic (nineteenth and twentieth century), the existence of a "culture" of anti-clericalism, the school quarrel, the new situation posed by the spread of Islam since the 1970's, and the idea of a crisis of secularism today.

Students choose courses from a variety of Parisian universities, including the historic Sorbonne Université, the Université de Paris, and the Institut d'Études Politiques ("Sciences Po"). All courses are taught in French.

Please note: The courses listed here are examples of courses that have been offered in previous years, and may not necessarily be offered at the time of registration. Please check your specific college program for current course offerings.

Sorbonne Université

  • Art and Archeology of the Ancient Near-East
  • 18th-Century France
  • Historic Geography
  • History of the Book
  • History of the English Language
  • Medieval Art
  • Modern Architecture
  • Modern Europe, 1500-1700
  • 19th- and 20th-Century French Literature
  • 17-Century Literature

Université de Paris

  • 20th-Century French Literature
  • Biology (enzymology, structure / interactions of biological macromolecules, molecular biology, genetics, bioinformatics, diversity and evolution, molecular biology of the cell)
  • Chemistry (inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, thermodynamics, physical chemistry, electrochemistry)
  • Computer Science
  • Contemporary Ethnology
  • Don Juan and Faust
  • Economic Sociology
  • Ethnographic Cinema
  • Environmental Science
  • Geology
  • Math (modern algebra, probability and statistics, discrete math, numerical simulation)
  • Physics

Institut d'Études politiques (Sciences-Po)

  • France, 1880–1990: History of French Political Institutions
  • Global Economics of the Perfume Industry
  • Institutions and Politics of the European Union
  • Nation, State, Democracy
  • Urban Revolution in Developing Countries
  • Discovering Opera

École de Psychologues Praticiens

  • Child Development
  • Educational Psychology

Ateliers Terre & Feu

  • Ceramics
  • Drawing
  • Sculpture


  • Advanced Dance Composition


  • Acting 2

The Sciences à Paris (SAP) option is designed explicitly to support students in the sciences, mathematics and engineering. Coursework, research opportunities, and tutoring are combined into a customized curriculum enabling science students to experience the rich scientific traditions of France, acquire competence in French, and experience the practice of science in an international context. Students with at least one year of college-level French or the equivalent are invited to apply.

The Sciences à Paris option features:

  • A customized course of studies combining coursework in your major with offerings in French language, culture and the arts.
  • A scientific advisory board that works with you and your advisor to design your year abroad.
  • Small group instruction in French language and grammar, as well as supplemental offerings designed specifically for science students.
  • On-site tutoring and support for all coursework undertaken at the French universities.
  • Research and internship opportunities (for credit) at leading French laboratories.

Additional information about the SAP program and some of the opportunities the program offers can be found on the Sciences à Paris site.

Possible Course Options

Please note: The courses listed here are examples of courses that have been offered in previous years, and may not necessarily be offered at the time of registration. Please check your specific college program for current course offerings.

  • Organismal Biology and Biodiversity
  • Ecology and Population Biology
  • Comparative Biology and Evolution
  • Neurobiology and Behavior
  • Cell Biology
  • Systems Biology
  • Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
  • Applied Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry and Thermodynamics
  • Theoretical Chemistry
  • Algebra
  • Analysis
  • Geometry
  • Discrete Math
  • Applied Math
  • Stats
Earth Science
  • Paleontology and Earth History
  • Structure and Tectonics
  • Mineralogy and Petrology
  • Sedimentary Systems
  • Geophysics

The SAP curriculum can be tailored for students who have had one or two years of college-level French. The following is what the year in Paris would look like for a student on the SAP program.

Fall Semester

  • Orientation (1 credit)
  • Smith in Paris French Language Course (4 credits)
  • SAP Fall Seminar (4 credits)
  • Two electives (Smith in Paris, Consortium, or Paris VII courses) (8 credits)

Spring Semester

  • SAP Spring Seminar (with accompanying lab or internship placement) (4 credits)
  • Two to three electives (Smith in Paris (including optional French language course), Consortium, or Paris VII courses) (12 credits)

Program Dates

Arrive in Paris

Friday, August 26


Saturday, August 27 – Friday, September 2

Fall Semester 2022

  • Sciences Po courses begin: TBA
  • French Language courses at Reid Hall begin: Tuesday, September 6
  • Reid Hall (Smith and Consortium) courses begin: Monday, September 12
  • Université de Paris courses begin: TBA
  • Paris Sorbonne courses begin: TBA

Winter Break

Friday, December 16, 2022 – Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Optional interterm activities and some university examinations

Tuesday, January 3 - Friday, January 13

Spring Semester 2023

  • Sciences Po courses begin: TBA
  • Reid Hall (Smith and Consortium) courses begin: Monday, January 23
  • Université de Paris courses begin: TBA
  • Paris Sorbonne courses begin: TBA

Spring Break


End of the program

Friday, May 26

Please note: Université de Paris, Paris Sorbonne, and Sciences Po each set their own calendars. These will not be published until August. Students must not make return travel plans until that time.

Life in Paris

People dining on the street, outside of a Paris cafe


Students in the Smith College program reside in private homes in Paris with carefully selected families who are dedicated to helping them to deepen their knowledge of the French language and culture. Boarding with host families has long proven to be one of the most rewarding aspects of the year abroad. Living with a French host family leads both to profound cross-cultural awareness and to rich and lasting friendships. All homestays are within Paris and are near a subway or bus station.

Meals & Allowances

Students normally have breakfast and dinner with their host families five days a week, the cost of which is included in the program fee. Students receive a monthly allowance that covers the cost of lunch during the periods that classes are in session.


During the end of the year, holidays and the spring vacation, students are required to leave their rooms in their host families' apartments. Most students use this time to travel in France and more widely in Europe and beyond.

Activities & Excursions

In September and in March or April, students (accompanied by the academic director and the administrative director) take part in two two-day excursions to a region outside of Paris such as Normandy, the Loire Valley, Burgundy, or the Côte d'Azur.

Cultural Excursions

Weekend trips to the Châteaux de la Loire and to Normandie; day trips to the Château de Versailles, to the Basilique de Saint-Denis, to the city of Rouen (with its cathedral made famous by Monet) and to Monet's country residence in the village of Giverny. These excursions may be organized at students’ requests and may be led by a tutor from the Smith Center.

Cultural Activities

Small group and individual outings to the theater, the opera and to lectures on contemporary art and cinema.

Sports Activities

Sample activities may include: a kayak excursion in Brittany; a bicycle trip around Ile-de-France; a ski trip to the French Alps.

Cultural Immersion

Occasional invitations from French families to join them in their homes for discussions of the "French way of life."

Photo of the interior of Château de Versailles

Please be sure you meet Smith College's eligibility requirements for approval to study abroad. In addition, Smith in Paris has its own program-specific requirements.

  • Two years or the equivalent of college-level French, normally four 4-credit courses, including one course at the 250 level or above in the spring semester of the year before study in Paris (Sciences à Paris students are only required to have one year of college-level French or the equivalent)
  • Students normally take four 4-credit French courses, including one at the 250 level or higher in the semester prior to their study in Paris. Those who enter Smith at the 230 level or above are required to take three semesters of French prior to study in Paris, including one course at the 250 level or higher in the semester prior to study in Paris. Students beginning with FRN 101 and 102 (Beginning French I and II), or FRN 101 and 103 (Accelerated Beginning French I and II) must take three 4-credit French courses in their sophomore year including the 250 level course (or higher). Students who do not meet these requirements are encouraged to consult with a member of the Department of French Studies.
  • The ability to follow coursework in French: aural comprehension, reading and writing ability; and to converse in French
  • Evidence of maturity, responsibility, preparation for study abroad and demonstrated interest in French culture

Accepted Students

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