Our academic program is designed to achieve three objectives. First, because we want students from all disciplines, whether they are majors in biology, history, literature, or any other field, to be able to spend a year or a semester in Paris, we provide students with access to a broad academic program offering courses in a variety of fields. Students should discuss their projected program with their advisor before they leave the United States, but they probably can take at least one course in Paris that will count towards their major(s).
Second, because we think students can learn a great deal about French people and the French educational system from taking courses at a French university, we encourage students to take at least one university course, and have agreements with a number of Parisian institutions to enable our students to do so. These courses are valuable not only for their academic content, but also for the opportunity they afford students to participate in a different educational system.
Third, because American students often prefer seminar-size classes to some of the larger classes they might find in the French university system, and because French universities do not offer some of the kinds of courses on French civilization and culture that American students want to take while in Paris, we organize seminars each semester on French politics, history, art history, film, literature, and theater. Taught by outstanding French professors, these seminars are conducted entirely in French and provide students with the kind of close student-teacher contact associated with a Vassar or Wesleyan education. Many of these seminars include on-site lectures at museums and monuments, and visits to governmental institutions, concerts, films, opera, and theater performances.
Students plan their academic program in consultation with the resident director, who is a member of the Vassar or Wesleyan faculty and serves as the academic advisor for all students during their time in Paris.