Semester Abroad in France

Sciences Po Law School, Paris


The Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (known as “Sciences Po”) was established in 1872 and is one of France’s most selective and highly regarded universities. Traditionally known for its academic focus on political science and economics, Sciences Po also offers robust programs in law, communications, finance, business, urban policy, management, and journalism. With a significant international student population and a strong global focus, Sciences Po ranks as one of the world’s elite academic institutions.

In 2009 Sciences Po Law School (SPLS) was created in order to train lawyers with an emphasis on critical thinking and creativity, as well as to equip them to play leadership roles in the worlds of both law and business.  SPLS’ main areas of academic focus are economic law, the law of globalization, and legal theory.  It offers specialized courses of study that feature small group teaching with an emphasis on inter-disciplinary approaches, and it is home to the Centre on Changes in Governance and Public Law (MADP) and Centre for European Studies

While many of the 350 SPLS students are French, 20% of the student body is comprised of people from 32 other countries.  The faculty includes 14 tenured professors, 5 associate professors, and 15 visiting professors, as well as 126 adjunct professors and lecturers.

The HLS-Sciences Po exchange program is categorized as a cooperative program by the American Bar Association.

Location

Sciences Po is located in the heart of Paris, just off the Seine River and within walking distance of many famous French sites, including the Notre Dame de Paris, the Panthéon, Musée du Louvre, and the Assemblée Nationale. Sciences Po campus’s central location within Paris’s vibrant cultural and political setting provides a unique and stimulating academic environment. Outside of class students can take advantage of the fantastic array of arts, music, theatre, food and other cultural offerings of Paris as well as a wide variety of student organizations within the university itself.

Course Offerings and Credits

HLS students enrolled in the program can choose from Sciences Po’s rich graduate-level course offerings. All basic courses are offered in both French and English and HLS students may choose the language of instruction.  Other courses are offered in either French or English and, again, HLS students may enroll in either type. The course listings for the 2013-2014 Master's in Economic Law program can be found on the SPLS website. Enrollment in particular classes may be limited based on classroom size.

Course loads will vary from student to student. HLS students may receive a total of 10 to 12 ungraded classroom credits in relation to work done through the semester abroad program. Please see the HLS semester abroad webpage for more information about credits and course requirements.

Sciences Po uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and grades students on a scale of 0 to 20, with 10/20 as the lowest passing grade. If a student is awarded credits for (passes) a course, he or she will be graded in relation to the rest of the class: the first 10% are given an A, the next 25% a B, the next 30% a C, the next 25% a D, and the remaining 10% receives an E. The letter F signifies that a student has failed to earn credit for the course. 

Although many SPLS courses are evaluated by written examination, some Sciences Po courses determine grades on the basis of papers, class participation, or other criteria, or some combination thereof. Just as at HLS, Sciences Po evaluation methods may vary from course to course depending on the professor and subject matter. In lecture courses at Sciences Po that feature a written or oral final exam at the end of the semester, attendance at final exams is required;  failure to attend an exam will result in failure of the course. Exchange students may not make up exams.

Language Proficiency

Sciences Po offers courses in both French and English. HLS students who do not speak French at a level sufficient to take courses in French should carefully review the English course offerings (see section above) to ensure that they are able to create a program of study that is suitably robust and consistent with their academic and career interests. Prior to study abroad, HLS students may improve their language proficiency and receive credit for foreign language courses at Harvard College in accordance with the HLS cross registration policy. Students may also find it helpful to arrive in France early for language acclimation and/or to take a language training course before law classes begin. Sciences Po offers a welcome program for international students arriving in both the fall and spring semesters, which is designed to introduce them to the Sciences Po community as well as the larger city environment. There is a fee for the welcome program, but HLS students may be eligible for a partial reimbursement for the costs.

Academic Calendar

The academic year at Sciences Po Law School is divided into two semesters that run September through mid-December and January through April:  

  • For fall 2013, all classes will begin on September 2 and end on December 6, followed by exams.  
  • For spring 2014, first- and second-year courses have slightly different calendars. Second-year courses begin on January 6 and end on April 11, followed by exams. First-year courses begin on January 20 and end on April 26, followed by exams.

The 2013-2014 academic calendar for Sciences Po is posted on the school's website.

Application Process and Timeline

Students interested in the Sciences Po cooperative program should follow the semester abroad application process described on the HLS semester abroad webpage.

Students applying for a semester at Sciences Po do not need to identify a foreign faculty advisor. Advisors at Sciences Po will be assigned to accepted students.

Students approved by the HLS Study Abroad Committee must also complete the SPLS application form for exchange students.

HLS may recommend multiple JD students to study at Sciences Po Law School each year but ultimately selection of the students will be made by Sciences Po. Since the establishment of the HLS-Sciences Po exchange program, the number of HLS JD students spending a semester at Sciences Po has ranged from three to eight annually.

Housing

Located in the heart of Paris, Sciences Po does not have housing on campus to offer its students. As a result, students must make arrangements to find their own accommodations. Sciences Po maintains a housing webpage that provides listings as well as information to help students in their search. Topics include practical and legal advice on renting in France, and housing benefits to which students may be entitled, among others. The Sciences Po website also features a guide for international students and practical information for incoming exchange students.

Cooperative Program Information

The ABA requires law schools with cooperative programs for study abroad to provide additional information to students applying to the program. Additional information about the HLS-Sciences Po program is available here. 

Contact Information

For further information, please contact Sara Zucker at (617) 495-9030 / szucker@law.harvard.edu. Her office is Wasserstein Hall, Suite 5005, Harvard Law School, 1585 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 and her fax number is (617) 496-9179.

Sciences Po Law School Executive Director Edith Chabre (+33 (0)1 45 49 53 45 / edith.chabre@sciences-po.fr) can also provide information.

photo by Daniel Thierry © Paris Tourist Office

Last modified: October 30, 2013

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