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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Université Paul Valéry (Montpellier III): Language and Culture Program

Only 6 miles from the Mediterranean coast, Montpellier is a vibrant city with a large university population. Montpellier also offers a rich medieval history and a unique mélange of Mediterranean cultures. I

ISEP-Direct Language and culture program. Focus on French language and culture courses starting at the advanced-beginner level at the Institut d’Études Françaises pour Étrangers (IEFE).

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus to thrive in this location.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.

Learn more about the University of Paul Valery here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type



Montpellier, France

Languages of Instruction

French - minimum of 2 semesters of college-level French required

Program Dates

Fall 2018: September to December

Spring 2019: January to May

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  
  • Language Requirement: A minimum of 2 semesters of university-level French or the equivalent must be completed prior to the program. Students are divided into groups according to their level of language proficiency based on a proficiency test.
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.


Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up.  Direct options may have an additional cost.

Chance of placement for US students on ISEP Direct French Language and Culture Program is Good.


Located in the south of France near the Mediterranean coast, Montpellier is an ancient university town which bustles with commercial and tourist activity. Its history is reflected in an 18th-century promenade and 17th- and 18th-century buildings.


Only 6 miles from the Mediterranean coast, Montpellier is a vibrant city with a large university population. Montpellier also offers a rich medieval history and a unique mélange of Mediterranean cultures.

ISEP-Direct Language and culture program. Focus on French language and culture courses starting at the advanced-beginner level at the Institut d’Études Françaises pour Étrangers (IEFE).

This program has an instructional focus on French language and culture. Each semester, the program will combine intensive French language study and three classes arranged by the International Relations Office. Students also have the possibility to take one or two regular university courses if language requirements are met (see regular course subjects offered above under Option 1). The intensive French as foreign language courses consists of 16 hours of classes per week for 12 weeks through the Institut d’Études Françaises pour Étrangers, IEFE. A student tutor will also be available for additional help. This option includes three excursions per semester that focus on regional cultural topics.

Students typically enroll in 5 classes per term which average to 12-18 hours in class per week. A term runs for 13 weeks.   Students must take 30 ECTS credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.

Syllabi for the various language levels on the ISEP Direct Language and Culture Program can be found here  

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

Can review the country handbooks for ISEP here as well:



ISEP Placement info: http://www.isep.org/Coordinators/us_placement_notes_english.asp


Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Student Life

Universite Paul Valery (UPV) is one of the oldest in Europe, founded in 1289. Situated on a campus outside the city, the university, one of several in Montpellier, continues to emphasize the arts and humanities and is well known as a center for research in interdisciplinary topics such as strategic studies and experimental psychology. The library includes the original 19th-century collections of the Faculty of Letters. Total enrollment: 20,000 (one-sixth international).



On both ISEP Exchange and ISEP Direct programs, students will receive individualized attention to help choose a set of courses. Once students have thoroughly read the course description brochures and the university website, the student will meet with the ISEP-Coordinator who is also the academic advisor. The registration officer will also help in the process in addition to student monitors.

Students will receive specific housing instructions prior to arrival. Please read all e-mails arriving from the host institution as they may include important arrival and housing information.


The host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.


Here is a link to the University Home Page.

Housing and Meals

ISEP-Direct: French Language and Culture Program 
Students are housed in single-occupancy rooms in the Cite Universitaire, a mile from campus. A meal stipend is not provided.

Financial Information

All students pay Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for ISEP Direct to Montpellier covers housing, college fees, insurance, and several excursions, but no meals.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 semester:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


College Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application


College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance, if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses






Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of January 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.