Paris: Exploration Program

Paris Pre-Orientation 2016 - Chemin des Dames - Students on the Observatory Tower with battlefields in the background
Final App Deadline: 
Monday, May 31, 2021
Language Requirement: 
Kylie Poulin

The Paris Exploration Program is open to incoming first-year University of Chicago undergraduate students only.

Program Description

Students participating in the 2019 Paris Exploration Program will study with Professor Peggy Mason of the Department of Neurobiology and Professor Nadine Moeller of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. They will co-teach a course titled “Science and the City: Exploring Paris through the achievements of early scientists and inventors.”

Students participating in this program will arrive in Paris on Sunday, September 1, 2019 and depart on Sunday, September 15, 2019. More details regarding arrival and departure logistics and the daily program schedule will be communicated to admitted students over the summer.


“Science and the City: Exploring Paris through the achievements of early scientists and inventors”
September 1–15, 2019
Peggy Mason and Nadine Moeller

Paris has been the home of groundbreaking discoveries and scientific research in the 19th and early 20th century. With the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte to power, interest in research and science reached new heights, and led to Napoleon embarking in a campaign to Egypt with 150 of the most prominent Parisian scientists, engineers and scholars. Napoleon’s academic entourage described the physical environment, monuments, flora, fauna, and culture of Egypt. The result of this endeavor was the publication of Déscription de l’Egypte; we will attempt to view the rare imperial edition, which is currently kept in the Senate in Paris. The upshot of Napoleon’s expedition was two-fold: 1) it was the dawn of the western world’s fascination with ancient Egypt; and 2) it was the launching pad for many scientists who went on to establish Paris as an academic and intellectual center. We will examine the contributions of several of these scientists, and their intellectual descendants, including Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Jean-Martin Charcot, and Marie Curie.

During two weeks in Paris, we will explore the city with a focus on these inventors and scientists, discuss their lives and most important achievements. We will visit the Natural History Museum, The Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of the arts and professions), Musée Curie, the Père Lachaise cemetery (where a lot of these people were buried), the Panthéon, l’Hôtel des Invalides, the underground catacombs and the Museum for the History of Medicine.

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 UChicago’s programs, the Center in Paris provides a focus for academic activities, a central meeting place and a welcoming UChicago “presence” within one of the major capitals of Europe.


Students in the Paris Exploration 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.

Travel and Visas

All students will require a passport that will remain valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry into France (through February 2020). If you need to apply for or renew your US passport, you can do so here: Please note that regular passport applications and renewals can take up to eight weeks to process, so please consider expedited passport processing.

Most students will not need a visa to participate in the program. US citizens may travel freely as tourists (i.e. without a visa) within and between any of the “Schengen” countries—Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland—for a maximum of 90 days in a 6 month period. Because the Paris program runs fewer than 90 days, and because participants are not directly enrolling in a French university, holders of US passports do not need to obtain a visa.

If you are a citizen of a country other than the United States, you may be required to get a visa. If you are unsure about your status, you should contact the Consulate General of France. The website for the Chicago-based Consulate is

Credits and Registration

These courses are not for credit and will not appear on a student’s transcript.


Students participating in the Paris Exploration Program pay a program fee of $3,000. Financial aid is not available for this non-credit experience.

The program fee includes:

  • Accommodation for the dates of the program
  • Instruction
  • Course materials
  • Student support (including a graduate student coordinator who resides with the group at Cité)
  • Program excursions and activities
  • Some group meals
  • Local transportation, including airport pick-up

Out-of-pocket expenses include:

  • Round-trip airfare to and from Paris
  • Some meals
  • Communications (including cell phone usage)
  • Personal entertainment and travel

Eligibility and Application

The Paris Exploration Program is open to incoming first-year University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

The online application will be available starting April 15 and must be submitted by May 31. To apply, you will need to complete the online application form, including a statement of interest addressing how this experience will fit into the scheme of your education at the University of Chicago. You may wish to comment on what you feel will be the most challenging (or most rewarding) about the program, or what you hope to gain from your time in Paris. Please be sure to let us know about your prior travel experience, if any, and your language skills (French or otherwise). Each application is examined on the basis of this statement, along with the applicant’s existing application materials on file with the University of Chicago.

Admission decisions will be communicated by June 14. Students will then receive pre-departure information and instructions for booking travel from Study Abroad.

Further Information

To discuss the Paris Exploration Program and the possibility of participating in it, please contact Kylie Poulin in the Office of Study Abroad (Harper Memorial 216; 773.702.7673;

Learn more about the
Center in Paris.

What you’ll see: 

Paris Pre-Orientation 2016 - Versailles - courtParis Pre-Orientation 2016 - Chemin des Dames - Students on the Observatory Tower with battlefields in the backgroundParis Pre-Orientation 2016 - Musée de l’Orangerie - NymphéasParis Pre-Orientation 2016 - Bordeaux - Miroir d’eauSeptember in Paris 2015 - MontmartreSeptember in Paris 2015 - Sacre Coeur September in Paris 2015 - Vaux le VicomteSeptember in Paris 2015 - Versailles