Paris: Psychology

A block of Paris buildings can be seen through the museum’s clock window.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:


Application Deadlines:



The College is pleased to announce a new Spring quarter Psychology program in Paris that offers students an opportunity to complete three Psychology courses abroad.

    The classes cover a broad array of sub-areas within Psychology and all three count toward the elective-courses requirement of the major. Psychology majors are encouraged to apply, though the program is open to students of all majors as the courses have no prerequisites.

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

    The following courses will be taught in the Spring 2025 program:

    • The Bright and Dark Sides of Empathy (Jean Decety)   
      The experience of empathy is a powerful phenomenon. It motivates prosocial behavior, especially parental care, and facilitates cooperation and group living. As an important aspect of the patient-doctor relationship, empathy is associated with better health outcomes. Yet, empathy is limited and fragile. It is susceptible to many biases and can lead to poor moral decisions. This course invites students to critically explore the science of empathy by examining its scope and its limits. It delves into cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research from the social sciences and the biological sciences to understand the mechanisms and functions of empathy. The topics examined in this course include: The evolution of empathy; The neural and neuro-endocrinological mechanisms; How empathy develops in young children; The impact of biases and implicit attitudes on empathy; The social situations and group dynamics that influence empathy; The lack of empathy in psychopathy and narcissistic personalities; Why and how empathy improves health outcomes in medicine.
    • The Psychology of Problem Solving (Boaz Keysar)   
      We constantly encounter problems to be solved, from trying to find a better route to our destination through trying to establish financial security, to solving global conflicts. The goal of this course is to understand how people approach problems. We will do it by applying the scientific literature from cognitive and social psychology. The course will combine lectures, demonstrations, extensive peer activities and hands-on simulations. We will consider important elements that are central to how people approach problems such as the impact of risk and the role of creativity. The discussion will span psychological processes that underlie individual and interpersonal problem solving, as well as the dynamics of group problem solving.
    • Imaging the Living Human Brain (Monica Rosenberg)   
      1. (How) Can we study the brain to learn about the mind?   
      2. Introduction to brain imaging techniques   
      3. Looking under the hood of the behaving brain with functional MRI   
      4. Designing fMRI experiments   
      5. Where are our thoughts? Approaches to functional localization   
      6. Beyond localization: Harnessing extensive measurements of brain activity to answer simple questions   
      7. Studying the brain "in the wild" with naturalistic fMRI   
      8. Can you learn to control your brain activity? An introduction to real-time fMRI   
      9. What does your brain activity say about you?   
      10. Debate: (What) Has studying the brain taught us about the mind?   
      11. Ensuring robust and reproducible results with open science practices   
      12. Neuroscience in the news: Responsible science consumption and communication

    Please note: Students who are planning to apply for the Spring 2025 Paris Psychology program should not take any of the above courses on campus.

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

    Spring tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Paris Psychology 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 Psychology 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 Psychology program and the possibility of participating, please contact Damaris Crocker De Ruiter.