Paris: Mathematics

Photo of Paris Math 2015 students in Reims
Early App Deadline: 
Monday, April 22, 2019
Final App Deadline: 
Monday, November 4, 2019
Language Requirement: 
Kylie Poulin

The College’s Spring quarter program in mathematics is designed for students with substantial preparation in the subject (see “Eligibility and Application” below) and a desire to further their studies, intensively and in the company of a small group of like-minded students, in Paris. Students take, in succession, three mathematics courses, each compressed into three weeks. While these courses will be demanding, program participants are compensated by their small class size and highly focused approach. In addition to the math sequence, program participants take a French language course, which runs at a normal pace through the quarter, a course designed to help students connect with French (and Parisian) culture.


Math 29527 (Weeks 1–3): Arithmetic in Function Fields
Instructor: Kevin Corlette
There are important analogies between the ring of integers and the ring of polynomials with coefficients in a finite field. We will explore some of these analogies, especially those related to the distribution of primes and reciprocity laws. We will describe some of the important results for the integers, including the Prime Number Theorem, quadratic reciprocity and Dirichlet’s theorem on primes in arithmetic progressions. After discussing the classification of finite fields and the structure of rings of polynomials, we will go on to discuss analogues of these results in the context of rings of polynomials with coefficients in finite fields. We will then go on to explore the extension of some of these results to finite extensions of the field of rational functions with coefficients in a finite field, known as global function fields. Relevant material on complex analysis and Galois theory will be summarized as needed.

Math 29512 (Weeks 4–6): Introduction to p-Groups
Instructor: Jitka Stehnova
This course is an introduction to p-groups, which play an important role in solvable groups and Lie Algebras. Beginning from the Sylow structure of groups, we will study commutators, the Frattini subgroup, automorphisms, and central products. The course will include a project. The level of difficulty of the project chosen will determine whether this course may be substituted for Math 25500 or Math 25800 in the B.S. degree program.

Math 29526 (Weeks 7–9): Random Walks, the Heat Equation, and Fourier Series
Instructor: Greg Lawler
This course will focus on “diffusion,” the movement of heat or other random particles. There are many ways to describe this motion: one can use discrete or continuous models and one can use deterministic or random models. We will do all of these. In the discrete we will see random walk, difference equations, and linear algebra. Going to the continuous we get Brownian motion, partial differential equations, and Fourier series.

While an intensely focused study of mathematics is at the heart of this venture, the program also includes a number of excursions within and in the vicinity of Paris.

Center in Paris

Headquarters for the College’s study abroad programs in Paris is the University of Chicago Center in Paris, the University’s research and teaching arm in Europe. Situated in the thirteenth arrondissement, the Center in Paris is part of an ambitious intellectual project along the river Seine, including the Bibliothèque Nationale and a new home for Université Denis Diderot (University of Paris VII). The Center in Paris features classrooms, offices for faculty and graduate students, computer facilities, a small library and an apartment for the faculty director. For participants in Chicago’s programs, the Center in Paris provides a focus for academic activities, a central meeting place and a continuing Chicago “presence” within one of the major capitals of Europe.


Students in the Paris Mathematics program are housed in a residence hall within the Cité Internationale Universitaire (Cité). The Cité, a park-like residential complex in the fourteenth arrondissement, is the international student campus in Paris, though French students also live there. Students reside in single rooms with a private bath and have access to Cité facilities, including a library, theater, laundry and athletic facilities. Students will have access to common kitchens in the residence halls and can purchase inexpensive meals at the Cité’s restaurant universitaire.

Credits and Registration

Participants in the Paris Mathematics program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They receive four credits, one for each of the three mathematics courses and a fourth for the language course. Students may use the three math credits within the mathematics major. The use of these courses in a major other than math must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the respective department. The language course will normally count as an elective. Course titles, units of credit and grades are placed on the College transcript.


Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee and a non-refundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the non-refundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Paris Mathematics program during the 2019-20 year are listed below:

Spring tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

Study abroad administrative fee: $675

Paris Mathematics program fee: $4,900


Program fee includes: Out-of-pocket expenses include:
accommodation round-trip airfare to and from the program site
instruction transportation on site
student support meals
program excursions course materials
emergency travel insurance (ISOS) personal entertainment and travel
  communications (including cell phone usage)
  health insurance and upfront payments for care
  other miscellaneous expenses

Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $250 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Paris is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section. 

Eligibility and Application

The Paris Mathematics program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

The sequence is designed for undergraduates in good standing who are beyond their first year in the College. To be eligible for this program, students must have completed any analysis sequence as well as two courses of an algebra sequence (either Math 20250-25400, Math 20250-25700, Math 25400-25500, or Math 25700-25800). In Paris, students will receive credit for the third course in the algebra sequence. Thus, although the program is open to students of all majors with sufficient mathematical preparation, it will be of special interest to mathematics majors, normally in their third or fourth year. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the math courses are taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take French on campus before the program begins.

Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record with special attention to the pre-requisite math courses, personal statement and academic recommendation. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

Further Information

To discuss the Paris: Mathematics program and the possibility of participating in it, please contact Kylie Poulin.

Learn more about the
Center in Paris.

What you’ll see: 

Photo of Paris Mathematics 2015 studentsPhoto of Paris Math 2015 students in ReimsPhoto of Paris Math 2015 students in ReimsPhoto of the Louvre at night