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Programs : Brochure

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Program Description:



  • 18 years of age or above
  • Good academic and disciplinary standing at Penn State
  • 3.10 cumulative GPA or better at the time of application review
  • Sophomore standing or above at the start of the program 
  • Open to all undergraduate students & students enrolled in the School of International Affairs
  • Intermediate-High (ACTFL) French language proficiency
  • Students should have completed coursework at the 300 or 400 level at the start of the program
  • All students wishing to participate in the program will be interviewed by a member of the French department

Program Description 

The Institute for Field Education (IFE) provides students with a rigorous academic and cultural experiential learning opportunity. Students who participate in this French-speaking program choose from one of three locations (Brussels, Paris, or Strasbourg) where they enroll in classes and, participate in an internship or field experience at a host organization. While working side-by-side in an immersive French environment, students pursue a research question and prepare a 30-page research paper that explores their topic which they later present to the IFE staff and cohort. Students return from the program with the pride and valuable academic experience of having completed a robust research project, one that is likely to make a significant contribution to their overall intellectual development.

Each Field Study and Internship program takes place in both the fall and spring, over the course of an 18 week semester. The semester begins with 5 weeks of intensive interdisciplinary courses, followed by a 12-week full-time internship in the student’s field. As part of the internship, students conduct field research, delving into an issue and producing a 30-page independent study.

Students will choose one of three program locations:


Fall: late August - late December
Spring: late January - late May

Refer to the IFE's website for the specific dates for each program location linked above.


Brussels, Belgium

Reduced by misconception to a geo-juxtaposition of States or an experiment in economic community, ‘Europe’ as seen through Belgium takes on fuller meaning as a historical, cultural and political experiment in civilization as well as a rich potpourri of sub- and supra-national cultures. Belgium’s history at the heart of the rise of the nation-state, its place in the center of dense, urbanized Europe and it’s mosaic of languages and cultures make it a textbook on European society. 

If Belgium is Europe-in-a-bottle, Brussels is – counter-intuitively perhaps – a great vantage point for expanding one’s ideas of European integration beyond Eurocrats pushing reams of paper. As a capital of Europe Brussels is a Hieronymus Bosch triptych of all that is happening at a European level: the myriad of initiatives, activist movements and soft lobbying campaigns in all areas on all issues whether cultural, social or political, carried out by European citizens.

Lastly, there’s Brussels the city. Youthful in population, a center of research and intellectual activity, suffused by an intense cultural life focused on contemporary creativity in all the arts, neighborhood-based but thoroughly globalized, Brussels is an exciting place to be while offering student-interns the fullest range of possibilities from IR research to literary promotion or neighborhood housing experiments.

Paris, France

If France is an exception in Europe, Paris is an exception in France. Paris is at once capital and counterpoint in a centralized State, self-identifying as different from “les provinces” while embodying much of what is so attractive and exasperating about French society. High-strung and fast-paced, Paris is a one-of-a-kind theater of the individual and the collective. A bastion of the Republic and a magnet for diversity, the city fascinates observers, confounds pundits and even its critics are not united. From the gilded ceilings of state ministries to the clamor of scooters, buses, delivery vans and bicycles vying for road space, Paris hums with a panoramic range of activities which offer many opportunities for interns to enter the stream of Parisian life.

Strasbourg, France

Borders divide but may also unite. Lining one side of the River Rhine, the ancient and modern city of Strasbourg, capital of Alsace, has known all the roles of a boundary land. The contemporary city is far more a center, and especially a crossroads of European cultures than is the borderland of France.

Home to international institutions, its two-culture heritage alive and well as the intersection of the EU’s two most powerful member-States, Strasbourg stands as a symbol of reconciliation. Along with Alsace it is an actor in the building of European community at local, regional and trans-national levels.

Still, much of the attraction of Strasbourg — the only city in Europe besides Geneva to host international organizations while not a national capital -– stems from it’s being a lively French city. Strasbourg offers a broad and highly representative canvas of contemporary France, at the local level. If study abroad is really anthropology, this teeming, ethnically diverse city is an anthropologist’s dream for understanding the reality of life in France today. It’s also a great place to live: green, crisscrossed with waterways and bike paths, a leader for urban innovation, a center for the arts...

Alsace, France and Germany, Europe: an IFE field experience in Strasbourg is a chance to experience the layers of identity that make Strasbourg Strasbourg and Europe Europe.

Education Abroad in Countries with a Penn State Restricted Travel Designation

In order to comply with Penn State’s International Travel Policy, students interested in studying abroad in countries that Penn State has designated as “restricted” for travel, a petition for a waiver must be submitted. Once a petition is complete, and if the student is approved for study on the program in question, the student may be asked to meet with the Director of Education Abroad and the petition will be reviewed by the Penn State International Restricted Travel Committee (IRTC). The necessary petition will be included in the online application process for this program. To see if your program is taking place in a restricted travel country, please visit the Penn State Global website.


Course Listings

To see what Penn State students have previously taken on this program, see the Historical Course List, which is meant to be a guide as to what courses might be available and how they might transfer to Penn State. Courses listed here may not be offered during the semester you attend the program and the credit amount or course title may have changed. 

Note: You are not limited to choosing classes on the program Historical Course List. You should consult the full list of courses on IFE's website before choosing a program.

Program-Specific Course Information

Students are expected to come in with a solid proficiency in French as there are no language courses per se. Student participation in the program is fully immersive, and there are many opportunities to work on their French through activities and small group lessons. The program is 100% conducted in French.

For more information about courses and field study placements on the IFE program, please refer to IFE's website for each program location:

Course Selection

To find appropriate courses that will fit into your degree requirements, you will need to work with your academic adviser. Suggested tips:
  • Research courses available on your program
  • Meet with your academic adviser to discuss potential courses abroad and your degree requirements 
  • Keep in mind that courses abroad may change or may be unavailable for your selected term, so you will need to discuss possible back-up course options
  • To register for courses on this program you will work with IFE

Academic Policies

  • You must enroll in a minimum number of 12 credits and a maximum number of 18 credits 
  • You cannot take any courses abroad on a Pass/Fail basis
  • World Campus courses should not be taken in addition to or as a substitute for courses offered abroad
  • You may not take sport or physical activity courses (e.g. sailing, bowling, yoga, etc.) abroad
  • If you are studying abroad in your final semester at Penn State, please note that Penn State may not receive your grades in time for graduation 

Course Equivalency Process

In order for courses from abroad to appear on your Penn State transcript, each course must be given a course equivalency. Please visit the Academics section of the Penn State Global website for information on the course equivalency process.  

Courses can be submitted for course equivalency before, during, or after the education abroad program, however, you should begin this process as soon as possible as it can take on average 2-4 months or more for courses to receive a Penn State course number. In some cases, it can be difficult to obtain syllabi from abroad before the start of the term, but when possible, courses can be submitted for review before departure. Talk to your Education Abroad Adviser about requesting syllabi.

Grade and Credit Conversion Scale

Grades and credit conversions from your host institution cannot be changed. They will be converted to Penn State credits and grades based on the following scales:
Grade Conversion Scale
Host Institution Grade Penn State Grade
A-  A-
B+  B+
B-  B-
C+  C+

Housing and Meals


Family Housing

  • IFE family housing is more like renting a room in a home, sometimes with separate entrance, kitchen access in all cases, and full freedom to come and go. Restrictions concerning guests exist for certain family situations. The family situations used by IFE for its students are generally not of the type where there are young children, a family meal every evening, and a busy family life requiring participation.
Student Residences or Foyers 
  • The foyer is a common form of housing for young people beginning either their studies or professional life in Paris or Strasbourg and whose home is elsewhere. (In Brussels, student housing takes the form of "kots", described above.) There are also a few foyers that cater to American students in particular, which IFE does not use for linguistic/cultural reasons. All foyers have certain things in common. There is a permanent presence at the reception desk, 24 hours per day, and there are a certain number of restrictions concerning hours and sex of visitors, and possibly other restrictions, with variations by foyer. There are common rooms for socializing, common kitchens by suite or floor for meal preparation, internet access, and various scheduled activities are proposed. Towels are not provided, but bed linen may be rented at a very modest rate.
Independent housing is not permitted on this program. There will be no exceptions.


Family Housing
  • Some offer meals, some do not, but IFE discourages a commitment to more than a couple of evening meals per week, in view of work and other demands on student-interns time.
Student Residences or Foyers
  • Some foyers offer a hot meal in the evening, some do not. Those that do generally require that students purchase 20 evening meal tickets during the first month of their stay, and 10 per month thereafter (minimum). There is a good deal of flexibility in this requirement, especially since the price of the meals and accommodations together is very reasonable. Students may still use the kitchen instead of taking the evening meal; the tickets may be used on any evening; and, for IFE student interns, 10 meals per month is about the right level of commitment. In addition, meals are served in a common dining room which provides IFE students a chance to socialize.

Costs and Funding

Program Costs

Fall Costs
Spring Costs

The cost of a program is based on Penn State tuition rates and partner institution fees. Due to the variety of locations and partner institutions, costs will vary depending on the program. Education Abroad works closely with our partners to ensure the most accurate cost estimates, however, fees can change quickly and without prior notice. Consult the cost sheets for your chosen program often and if you have any questions please contact your Education Abroad Adviser


The Education Abroad Office awards a number of grants and scholarships to students who participate in an education abroad program through Penn State Global. The application for the scholarships awarded through the Education Abroad Office is included with your program application. Eligibility is based on academic merit and/or financial need. You must have a current FAFSA on file to be awarded. There are additional scholarship opportunities through our partner universities, Penn State Academic Departments, and other sources. To view a full list of scholarships, eligibility requirements, and deadlines visit Funding Study Abroad.

Student Aid

Penn State students who plan to study on a Penn State approved program can use most forms of financial aid towards the cost of the program. Exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships. If you have specific questions regarding your aid awards, contact the Penn State Office of Student Aid

Withdrawal & Refund Policy 

Withdrawal and refund details are dependent on the timing and reason for your withdrawal from a Penn State Education Abroad Program. For specific details and steps on how to withdraw, read the Education Abroad Policies

After Commitment

Once a student has committed to a Penn State Education Abroad program, they are financially responsible for any fees incurred on their behalf. Therefore, if a student plans to withdraw from a program it is their responsibility to immediately notify the Education Abroad office, in writing; email is preferred. 

Regardless of the timing or reason for the withdrawal, the student will be responsible for paying the Education Abroad Administrative Fees. Additional fees from the partner institution will be assessed according to their withdrawal and refund policies at the date of the withdrawal notice.

After the Start of the Program 

If a student withdraws after the start of a program, any adjustment of Penn State tuition charges will be made according to the Tuition Adjustment Schedule as determined by the Office of the Bursar. Students may be responsible for up to 100% of program costs. In most cases, partial credit cannot be awarded for leaving a program before its successful completion.

For additional information on withdrawal policies, separate and apart from financial consequences, please consult the University Senate Policy on Withdrawal and Leave of Absence.

Life Abroad

General Information 

Studying abroad can be one of the most exciting and transformative experiences of your college career. It is an opportunity to develop independence, build cross-cultural competencies, grow as a person, and enhance your academic program. Entering a new culture can be challenging for everyone. You may ask yourself: is this the right country for me? What are their cultural norms? How will my identity be perceived there? What can I do to prepare for this experience? What will my daily life be like? Below are resources to help you answer these questions.


Penn State Education Abroad works closely with campus resources and our partner institutions around the world to ensure that students of all abilities reach their goal of studying abroad. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged on an individual basis. If you have accommodation needs or further questions please consult with the Student Disability Resources office and your Education Abroad Adviser. Additional resources are available through the Penn State Global Website. Disability information will not be used during the admissions process, but rather is meant to provide students with resources to help in planning a successful experience abroad.

Gender and LGBTQA

There are dramatic and subtle differences in how gender, identity, sexual expression, and sexual health are perceived in different countries. Before going abroad, it is important that you research the specific country or countries you will be visiting and have a full understanding of their cultural norms. Below are some resources to help you with that research and provide guidance for your life abroad.

Race, Ethnicity, and Faith

When choosing a study abroad location and preparing for your travels, you will want to be mindful of how your experience will be different than what you are used to in the United States. Your racial, ethnic, and spiritual identities may be interacted with and labeled by others differently than what you expect. Here are resources to help you prepare for these differences.

Non-U.S. Citizens

It is possible for non-U.S. Citizens to study abroad through Penn State. To do so successfully, you must plan early because this process may involve obtaining visas and other governmental procedures. Check with your DISSA Adviser prior to committing to a study abroad program and speak with your Education Abroad Adviser for specific information on the host country. If you plan on traveling to other countries during your study abroad experience, you will need to research and make plans to adhere to immigration policies for all of the countries that you plan to travel to and through. You are responsible for applying for visas for all applicable countries on your own. Advisers in the Education Abroad office cannot apply for your visa for you. Additional information may be available through your country's embassy and the consulate for your study abroad country.

Next Steps

Steps to Study Abroad

The planning stages outlined on the Penn State Global website will help you have the best study abroad experience possible. We recommend that you begin this process at least one year prior to the semester you plan on studying abroad. Visit the Steps to Study Abroad section of the Penn State Global website. 

How to Apply

Click the “Apply Now” button on this page to get started!

Application procedures can vary by program. Students should consult the application instructions available within each application. For more information, see the Application Process section of the Penn State Global website. 


You must apply to this program by the Penn State deadline. For a list of deadlines visit the Application Process page of the Penn State Global website.

Contact Education Abroad 

If you have general questions about Education Abroad opportunities at Penn State, please email

Peer Advisers

Education Abroad Peer Advisers are Penn State study abroad returnees who advise students on education abroad opportunities at Penn State. Each Peer Adviser can explain program options, give an overview of the study abroad process, as well as provide information about their experience abroad. Peer Advisers have walk-in hours in Boucke Building during the fall and spring semester when classes are in session. For more information, visit the Education Abroad Peer Adviser website. 

Education Abroad Advisers 

Education Abroad Advisers can provide information about courses, support services, application processes, housing details, program costs, cultural expectations, pre-departure requirements, and much more. Education Abroad Advisers have two types of meetings - scheduled appointments and walk-ins. For more information about how to meet with an Education Abroad Adviser, please visit the Penn State Global website

Social Media

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For information about upcoming events, scholarship opportunities, deadlines, and much more visit the Penn State Global Events Calendar and follow us on social media!

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2024 09/10/2023
Rolling Admission 01/19/2024 05/24/2024
NOTE: Start date marks arrival in host country. End date marks departure from program housing.
Fall 2024 03/01/2024
03/12/2024 TBA TBA
Spring 2025 09/10/2024 09/27/2024 TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed