Paris: Philosophy

Nine people stand outside the former abbey next to a bust of Pascal.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:


Application Deadlines:



Please note: Offered in alternating years. Following the Spring 2025 program, the next program will run in Spring 2027.

The College’s new Spring Philosophy program in Paris provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to devote themselves intensively to the study of philosophy at the University of Chicago’s Center in Paris.

    The classes cover a broad array of sub-areas within Philosophy and all three count towards elective courses. The program is open to students of all majors, though Philosophy majors are encouraged to apply.

    Classroom work will be complemented by local field trips to related sites. In addition to the Philosophy courses, all participants will take a “practical” French language course running at a normal pace through the quarter.

    The theme for the Spring 2025 program is “Freedom.”

    • Rousseau’s Political Philosophy (Dan Brudney)   
      Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s political philosophy is based on an account of moral psychology, an account that is highly critical of the present—critical of current institutions and of its product, namely, our present moral psychology—while also, at moments, hopeful for the future. The seminar begins by presenting Rousseau’s political philosophy as a development of and a contrast to earlier social contract theories, in particular, to Thomas Hobbes’s view. We then examine both Rousseau’s and a few contemporaries’ moral psychologies to determine whether the political philosophy that Rousseau favors is feasible and/or desirable.
    • Free Will (Mikayla Kelley)   
      Do we have free will? What is free will anyway? Does it require an ability to do otherwise? Is free will compatible with a scientific conception of the world? Can people ever be justifiably blamed, praised, or punished for their actions, given all the ways we’re influenced by external forces? In this course on free will, we’ll look at some contemporary perspectives on these questions. The course will have three parts. First, we’ll look at reasons why we might not have free will. Next, we’ll consider how we could have free will. Finally, we’ll ask whether and for what it matters whether we have free will.   
      Readings will come from Harry Frankfurt, Derk Pereboom, Kadri Vihvelin, P.F. and Galen Strawson, Susan Wolf, Rodrick Chisholm, Manuel Vargas, Thomas Nagel, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir, among others.
    • Marx in Paris (Anton Ford)   
      The third course will cover Marx’s “Paris Manuscripts” (aka “The 1844 Manuscripts,” aka “The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts”) and Marx’s historical writings about France, especially The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and his writings on the Paris Commune.

    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 Philosophy 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 Philosophy program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They receive four credits, one for each of the three Philosophy courses and a fourth for the French language course. Students may use the three Philosophy credits within the Philosophy major. The use of these courses in a major other than Philosophy 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 Philosophy program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Spring tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Paris Philosophy 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 Philosophy 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. 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 program courses (aside from the French class) 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 and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

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