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Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Study Abroad Areas of Study: Architecture, Art History, Culture Studies, Film, French, Gender Studies, History, Literature, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology
Language of Instruction: French City Size: Over 1 million
Click here for a definition of this term Level of Support: High Housing Options: Apartment (Shared)
Class Eligibility: 02-Sophomore Language Courses Offered: Yes
Credit Type: Transfer Credit Minimum GPA: 3.0
Click here for a definition of this term Language Prerequisite: At least 5 semesters Available to Non-UI Students: Yes
Program Description:


Come to Paris, for an experience that challenges, enlightens, and inspires.

The CIEE Critical+Francophone Studies program, works to open a critical space in which you can consider movements in French, European and international  thought, art, society and culture. You’ll integrate into renowned Parisian institutions, and to enjoy an engaging approach to Paris, and the dynamism of French, European, and global intellectual and artistic culture.

Study abroad in Paris and you will:


  • Take courses in Critical Studies: focusing on French theory in cinema, the arts, writing, and critical thought  and Francophone Studies focusing on contemporary French society and culture
  • Study entirely in French, with a strong emphasis on the French intellectual tradition and emergent global thought
  • Direct enrollment in the Université de Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle or the Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7), allowing direct engagement in Parisian university life
  • Visit exhibits, film festivals, and lectures and take day excursions to places near and within Paris and academically-structured weekend excursions to other cities

The CIEE Difference


In Paris you’ll find a unique two-track study abroad program which helps to concentrate your studies. The Critical Studies track offers you a range of courses in the fields of cinema and visual studies, text and language, intellectual history and critique. The Francophone studies track allows you to achieve a clear understanding of the political, social, and cultural complexity that characterizes contemporary France.

All courses are conducted exclusively in French and are aimed at developing your ability not just to write and speak, but to think in French.


CIEE resident staff organize regular local outings to cultural activities in Paris, such as special exhibits, film festivals, and lectures. Day trips to sites close to Paris such as Chartres and its cathedral, the chateau in Vaux-le-Vicomte, Reims, or Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, are also organized for all CIEE students. Weekend trips have taken students to the Drôme, Normandy, Burgundy, Brittany, Bordeaux and Alsace.

Volunteer and community service opportunities, particularly in the field of education, can be arranged by CIEE staff.


Total recommended credit for the fall semester is 16 semester/24 quarter hours; 15 semester/22.5 quarter hours for the spring semester; and 31 semester/46.5 quarter hours for the academic year.

Contact hours for all CIEE courses are 45 hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours per course, unless otherwise indicated.

Recommended credit for most Université de Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle courses is 31 hours and 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours per course.

Recommended credit for most Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7) classes is 45 hours and 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours per course.

Program Requirements

During the academic pre-session, all study abroad students take the Intensive French Writing and Research Program. Each student also meets with the professor once a week for a half-hour private tutorial.

During the remainder of the semester, participants are required to take a minimum of four courses: the two required CIEE courses, and two electives, one of which must be a Université de Paris course. Students are highly encouraged to take both of their elective classes at the Université de Paris.

Academic year students must take a minimum of five courses in the spring semester. All-year students in the Paris Critical and Francophone Studies  program are highly encouraged to take all of their classes at the Université de Paris during their second semester. 

About Paris

Paris remains a stage upon which cultural life is played. Its landscape is beaded by such sites of learning as the Sorbonne, the Collège de France, and the Collège International de Philosophie. Its famous museums and galleries display a vast wealth of artifacts that continue to both inspire and challenge artists and observers. Against the backdrop of its millennia of history, cut through by the river Seine, spring hundreds of cinemas, a multitude of book shops, historical and current graffiti, cultural

Where You’ll Study

The CIEE Study Center in Paris, known as the Paris Center for Critical Studies, is on the rue du Sentier in the lively, central Sentier neighborhood, in the 2nd arrondissement. The Center is less than a minute away from the Grands Boulevards, a 10-minute walk to the Palais Royal, and a 15-minute walk to the Louvre. Courses taught by CIEE-hired faculty take place in the Center. All Paris Critical Studies students must take at least one course at either the Université de Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle, a 30-minute bus-ride away, or at the Paris Rive Gauche campus of the Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7), or through the Collège International de Philosophie, many of whose seminars take place at the Paris Center for Critical Studies.

Housing & Meals

Housing is included in the study abroad program fee. CIEE provides detailed information on site about the student’s housing placement, whether it be in a small furnished studio or a furnished room where the student will share kitchen, bath, and living areas with a French host. The host option is highly recommended because living with the French is an excellent cultural and linguistic experience. Both housing options require flexibility and willingness to adapt to the French lifestyle, and ongoing communication with the CIEE resident staff about expectations and needs.

Breakfast and some other meals, including a welcome dinner and other group meals, are provided during the orientation period. If students choose the French host option, one meal a week and breakfast every day is provided during their stay. No meals are provided in the studio option.

Academic Program

The Critical and Francophone Studies offers students with five or more semesters of college-level French two tracks:

The Critical Studies track offers study abroad students a range of courses in the fields of cinema and visual studies, text and language, and intellectual history and critique. All courses are conducted exclusively in French and are devoted to widening a student’s ability not just to write and speak, but to think in French. By mastering the rhetorical twists and turns of this foreign language, students gain a finer understanding of the texts, films, discourses, and ideas that they encounter both in the classroom and in the hive of debate and creation that is Paris. Students are directed toward courses that focus on the important role signs and representations play in how thought and meaning are created, on the place of fiction in fact, and on the place of force and fantasy in philosophy.

This study abroad program should be seen as a springboard, helping you define your own theoretical project and offering you the critical tools you need to succeed in your Université de Paris courses. The perspective we strive to offer has helped former students better define their own academic life, with a number of them continuing their studies in critical theory, cinema and visual studies, comparative literature, and French on a graduate level, both in the United States and France.

The Francophone studies track allows students to achieve a clear understanding of the political, social, and cultural complexity that characterizes contemporary France. This includes diversity, multiculturalism, cultural mixing (métissage), and "national identity," as well as religious diversity and secularism (laicité). Students will analyze culture—art, architecture, literature, popular culture, film—in a social context in order to characterize their own experience in cultural terms. Students will communicate with peers about cultural differences and come to understand the French educational system.

Both tracks require students to take a least one university course at the Université  Paris Diderot or Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Academic Culture

French language study begins with an intensive language program. The regular semester French language classes meet twice a week. Language classes have a maximum of twelve students. Tutoring and speech therapy sessions are available for students with demonstrated need. Language instruction uses a variety of materials (newspapers, magazines, films, and videos), and classes are taught entirely in French.

Content courses typically meet twice a week.

Université de Paris course hours vary from two to three hours a week. Students also spend three to four hours per week reading and doing independent research outside of class. Film courses generally require an additional two-hour film screening to prepare for class discussions and lectures. Program courses also integrate mandatory outings to museums, exhibitions, conferences, and other cultural events.
Fall semester CIEE courses begin in late August and end in mid-December. Spring semester CIEE courses start in mid-January and end in late May, with a two-week spring break at Easter.

Université de Paris fall classes begin in late September and end in mid-December. In the spring, classes begin in mid-January and end in early May.

There are striking differences between higher education in France and the United States. Most lower-level French university courses traditionally consist of lectures by the professor and note-taking by students, with little discussion and participation. Formal oral presentations are a standard feature in many courses. The teaching approach tends to be more formal, and professors in France are less likely to interact with students. Consequently, great importance is attached to strong French writing skills and the ability to articulate one’s ideas, present solid arguments, and convince a reader of a particular viewpoint.

Professors in France expect students to assume greater responsibility for their learning, to determine their own study and reading schedules, and to work independently. This implies motivation, self-discipline, organizational skills, and a willingness to adapt to a less structured environment and different educational philosophy. The experience contributes to the development of critical thinking and research skills, and we at the Paris Center for Critical Studies are always there to answer your questions and guide you through this academic adventure.

Nature of Classes

CIEE classes are with study abroad participants only. Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7) and Université de Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle courses are with French and other international students.

CIEE Community Language Commitment

Students take part in the CIEE Community Language Commitment by speaking French at all times (except in emergencies). This fosters a learning community that contributes to both French language proficiency and understanding of French society.

Grading System

All CIEE courses are taught in French, and study abroad students must write research papers, give oral presentations, and take written exams in French. Most courses also assume background knowledge of major trends, movements, or figures, and familiarity with key theoretical concepts within that field. Final course grades are based on a combination of mid-term and final examinations, research papers, and oral presentations. Professors use the French grading scale of zero to 20. French grades are converted by the resident director into U.S. letter grades.

Language of Instruction



All Critical and Francophone Studies professors are from such renowned institutions as the Université de Paris 3, Paris 7, Paris 8, and the Collège International de Philosophie. Active researchers and figures in the fields of cinema, visual arts, textual analysis, and critical theory, these professors offer Critical Studies students the tools and methods necessary to engage in the intellectual and academic life of Paris.


Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2022 10/15/2021 10/15/2021 TBA TBA
Fall 2022 04/01/2022 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA
Academic Year 2022-2023 04/01/2022 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.