Students begin the year with a two- or three-week orientation program (depending on the univeristy affiliation) that prepares them for academic and cultural life in France through an intensive language review and mini-courses in methodology, contemporary French civilization, and the history of the Ancien Régime. Students begin to acquire first-hand experience in the language and culture by living with host families who reside in Paris.
Four courses each semester, selected from the following:
- Advanced French language at the Smith Center
- Courses in political science and French culture as part of the Smith-Hamilton-Middlebury Consortium courses
- Courses in the humanities, social sciences, and laboratory sciences at the French university. (University registration takes place after arrival in Paris, in consultation with the faculty director.)
- Please note: Courses in musical performance, dance, and studio art may be available to majors or minors in those fields. Laboratory science courses areavailable through the program Les Sciences à Paris.
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.
In September and in March or April, students (accompanied by the program director and the associate 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.
In addition, students may participate in monthly excursions to nearby sites of interest such as the château de Fontainebleau, le château de Versailles, the Chartres cathedral, or Monet’s garden at Giverny. These excursions may be organized at students’ requests and may be led by a tutor from the Smith Center.
Students pledge to speak French at the Smith Center in Reid Hall, during excursions and among themselves.
Students normally take 34 Smith College credits during the academic year: they receive 16 credits per semester plus 1 credit for the orientation session and 1 credit for the first-semester methodology course.