Paris: Neuroscience

A few students stand listening to the professor lecture by an exhibit of animal skeletons.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:


Application Deadline:


Students participating in the College-sponsored Autumn quarter program on Neuroscience will take two Neuroscience courses and one Psychology course taught by Chicago faculty at the University of Chicago’s Center in Paris.

    All three courses will count toward the Neuroscience major, and the Psychology course may be used in the Psychology major. Neuroscience majors are encouraged to apply, though the program is open to students of all majors. (Please see the Eligibility and Application section below for information on prerequisites.)

    Classroom work will be complemented by local field trips to related sites, such as the Jardin des Plantes, the Musée Dupuytren, and the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle. In addition to the Neuroscience and Psychology courses, all participants will take a “practical” French language course running at a normal pace through the ten weeks.

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

    • NSCI 21630. Neuroscience and Disability (Peggy Mason)
    • NSCI 20140. Sensation and Perception (Steven Shevell)   
      What we see and hear depends on energy that enters the eyes and ears, but what we actually experience — perception — follows from human neural responses. This course focuses on visual and auditory phenomena, including basic percepts (for example, acuity, brightness, color, loudness, pitch) and also more complex percepts such as movement and object recognition. Biological underpinnings of perception are an integral part of the course.
    • NSCI 21620. Structure, Circuits, and Development of the Forebrain (Clifton Ragsdale)   
      The forebrain is the largest division in the brains of mammals and birds. This course will address its structure as a laboratory exercise with slides and computer image supplementation. Our study of forebrain circuitry and development will draw on primary research papers and comprehensive reviews, and the rich research resources of the Parisian neuroscience community. Our survey will include thalamus, hypothalamus, the amygdala, and the basal ganglia, but our focus will be on the largest structure in our brains, the neocortex.

    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 Neuroscience 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 Neuroscience program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses. Three courses may be used toward the Neuroscience major, and one can be used in the Psychology major. The two courses listed as Neuroscience courses will always be eligible for credit as major electives. Their use in any other program of study must be approved by the undergraduate program chair of the relevant department. The language course will normally count as an elective. Any of these courses, if not used within a major, may be used as general electives. 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 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

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

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. It will be of particular interest to Neuroscience and Psychology majors, though students of all majors are welcome to apply. Students who complete this program will then be welcome to enroll in the winter and spring quarters of the Neuroscience major sequence on campus (Cellular Neurobiology and Systems Neuroscience). Students who are majoring in Neuroscience will be required to complete the autumn quarter course of this sequence (Fundamentals of Neuroscience), either before or after participating in the Paris program. 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 sequence is 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 and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

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