Academic Resources | French

We highly advise that you refrain from making travel arrangements during the Spring 2024 semester until class schedules have been finalized.

Spring 2024

Conversion Scale

Students will be graded on the French grading system of 0-20 in all classes (Reid Hall, local university, directed research). The Columbia in Paris program uses the following conversion scale between French and American systems:

19-20 A+

16-18 A

14-15 A-

13 B+

11-12 B

10 B-

9 C+

7-8 C

5-6 C-

3-4 D

0-2 F


Students have the option to take a course as Pass/Fail. In order to do so, students must submit a written request to the Program Coordinator before the deadline indicated in the academic calendar. They must also contact their home school advisor for written approval of your request. This approval must also be forwarded to the Program Coordinator.

Important points:

  • Students can only Pass/Fail ONE course per semester.
  • Students cannot Pass/Fail a Directed Research project.
  • Students cannot Pass/Fail language courses (including Academic Writing & Practicum).

Deadlines may vary for UPENN students. Please contact the Program Coordinator for more information.

The Directed Research allows motivated students to deepen a research topic while acquiring methodological and analytical skills essential to research. Students define their area of interest, then work under the direction of a Research Director, appointed by the Program Director.


  1. Prior to program start: submit your research proposal (1 page) to the Program Director, Séverine Martin ([email protected]).
  2. First appointment with the research director to discuss the research topic and the possibility of working under his/her direction.
  3. At the end of this appointment, the student will confirm his/her project. One-hour weekly interviews with the research director; the student submits the chapters of the dissertation in consultation with him/her.
  4. Writing of the dissertation: papers are usually written in French, but depending on the topic or the home department with whom you would like to share your research, the project may be written in English, in consultation with the Program Director.
  5. For a 4-point directed research, the submission must consist of 6200 words, approximately 20-25 pages, and must be typed in accordance with the guidelines provided by the program and the "MLA style sheet." (A copy of the MLA handbook can be borrowed from the program).


  1. Submit 2 copies of the final draft (one for the Research Director, another for your second reader) at least 3 days prior to your oral defense. Copies may be submitted electronically if accepted by your Research Director.
  2. Oral defense – end of semester (in the presence of your peers, and other Research Directors). The student must present, in fifteen minutes, the main lines of the dissertation. This presentation will be followed by a ten minute question and answer and discussion session to assess the content of the brief. This defense accounts for 25% of the final grade.
  3. At the end of the defense, the student must submit a final version, which will take into account the suggestions made during the defense. The dissertation is then validated and graded by the Research Director.

Methodological Tutoring

Methodological tutoring is reserved for French university courses. Students are entitled 4 hours of methodological tutoring per university course. The methodological tutors are specialists in their own fields: literature, history, economics, art history, cinema, sociology and political science. Their role is to provide guidance with regards to the methodology of the French university assignments (ie. dissertation, commentaire composé, exposé, fiche de lecture). They help create a study plan for the semester, explain the bibliography of the courses and target relevant books and articles to read before writing papers. In addition, tutors help analyze and understand the topic of a paper in order to formulate a precise problématique and organize ideas following a well-structured outline.

Linguistic Tutoring

The language tutoring can be used for both French university and Reid Hall courses (except Academc Writing). Students are entitled 4 hours of language tutoring for all of their courses. Students can request additional time if necessary. It will, of course, vary according to the number of assignments. Each student is assigned a language tutor at the beginning of the semester. The language tutors’ role is to help students become more independent writers by providing the critical feedback necessary for students to improve their language skills. Tutors track each student’s progress from session to session through individual mentoring, identifying frequent errors, and helping students understand their mistakes and correcting them themselves. The students are expected to actively participate in these meetings, ask questions, take notes, write down new vocabulary, etc.

Preparing for tutorials

  • For courses at the university, you meet your methodological tutor BEFORE the language tutor. Your assignments must be fully written on the day of the appointment
  • For courses taken at Reid Hall, your assignments must be written in full on the day of the appointment

Working with your language tutor

  • Recognize spelling and grammar errors
  • Identify recurring faults
  • Ask questions about language - the goal is to improve your writing style

Long-term organization

  • Contact your language tutor a week in advance of the due date
  • Do not be late - if you are, be courteous to your tutor
  • If you have to cancel, do it 48 hours before your scheduled appointment
  • After the 3rd cancellation and / or delay, the tutor reserves the right not to grant you a session anymore

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Public Libraries
The city of Paris has 57 public libraries that you can visit to check out books or consult documents. To obtain a library card visit the public library nearest you and preset the necessary documents (library form, ID,and proof of housing). You do not need to live in Paris to request a library card.
Click here for more information.

French Universities (Paris I & Sciences Po)
Each of our partner French universities has a library on its campus that you can visit and use by presenting your student ID card.  Be sure to activate your student card prior to your visit.

Directed Research
If you are doing a directed research project, it may be possible for you to gain access to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF). Consult with your research director and your academic advisor to see if this option is possible for you.