Paris: Mathematics

Louvre at Night

Program Term:


Language Requirement:


Application Deadlines:



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.

    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.

    The following courses will be taught in the Spring 2024 program:

    • MATH 29507. Geometry of Matrix Groups (John Boller) 
      We will discuss the structure of general and special linear groups, orthogonal groups, unitary groups, and symplectic groups. These groups are used throughout algebra, topology, and analysis. We will emphasize the roles of matrix groups in each of these fields, and present examples where the knowledge of these groups leads to the solution of interesting problems. The text for the course is Matrix Groups, by Morton Curtis. Instead of a final exam, there will be final projects, and 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 29529. Minimal Surfaces (Danny Calegari) 
      This course will be an introduction to the theory of minimal surfaces in Euclidean space. This is a beautiful subject with a very long history. We will discuss a number of examples, and the relationship of the theory to other parts of mathematics (differential equations, harmonic functions, complex analysis, algebraic equations etc). Knowledge of complex analysis will not be required as a prerequisite, and we will develop some of the theory as we need it. Some knowledge of multivariable calculus (eg partial derivatives) would be useful.
    • MATH 29528. Topics in Modelling (Takis Souganidis) 
      This class presents applications of mathematics to biology, chemistry, economics, engineering, and physics. The course consists of a sequence of modules, one for each key concept.

    All participants also take a French language course.

    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 Paris Cité. 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.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of student housing in France and understand that the amenities of dormitory facilities may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Paris will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    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 nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Paris Mathematics program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Spring tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Paris Mathematics program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • 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.

    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 academic and disciplinary 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 prerequisite math courses, and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Paris Mathematics program and the possibility of participating, please contact Damaris Crocker De Ruiter.