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The American Bar Association-approved Cooperative Program between the American University Washington College of Law and the law department of the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense, offers second- and third-year students at AUWCL the opportunity to study for a semester at an internationally recognized French law school, earning up to 12 credits toward their J.D. degrees.
In the current organizational scheme of the University of Paris system, which dates from the late 1960's, different units specialize in different academic fields; only a few of the thirteen units have specialized law departments, and the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense (Nanterre), itself among the newer branches of the system, is one of these. The campus of Nanterre is organized around a central plaza containing tennis courts and a well-equipped sports and recreation center (including a double Olympic-size pool); it is located west of downtown Paris, about ten minutes from the Champs Elysées by rapid rail (RER) service. Nearby is the international Trade Center at La Défense, which is rapidly becoming one of Europe's most important financial and commercial zones. All in all, Nanterre has roughly 30,000 graduate and undergraduate students, about 8,000 of whom study law. Most of these students are commuters, although there are several residence halls on campus.
The University library is one of the best in France, with an excellent law collection of more than 35,000 volumes. It also holds a large selection of current French and English legal and general periodicals. In addition, there are a number of specialized book collections in the law department, on topics such as legal theory, social law, international public law, international commercial law, legal history and anthropology, business law, and political science.
All campus facilities are available to AUWCL students participating in the Cooperative Program; these include the libraries and sports/recreation center described above, subsidized student restaurants and cafeterias, and health services. Most campus facilities, including classrooms, libraries, and rest rooms, are wheelchair-accessible.
The Nanterre law department offers a full program of basic, intermediate and advanced courses in law. In addition, the Nanterre faculty specializes in international trade law, human rights law, and labor law, among other subjects. The faculty is made up of a distinguished group of full- and part-time teachers. To a greater extent than is common in the United States, French law teachers participate actively in law practice; they bring to the classroom not only an academic perspective on their subjects, but an intensely practical one as well.
Nanterre is a cosmopolitan school, drawing students from throughout Europe and beyond. Among the law department's specialized graduate programs is one - the D.E.J.E.I. (Diplôme D'Etudes Juridiques Européens et Internationales) - which is designed to prepare law students for transnational practice. The students in the Nanterre law graduate programs are roughly equivalent in age and educational experience to American J.D. candidates, and AUWCL program participants have found that the French D.E.J.E.I. students prove to be excellent academic, linguistic and social resources.
Language of Instruction
Housing and Cost of Living
The second semester begins in February and ends with exams in June.
More specific dates are available on the Nanterre website .
It may be possible for AUWCL students to arrange to take their exams out of the regular cycle.
The official language of instruction at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense is French. Students applying to the program must submit proof of French proficiency.
- Students with undergraduate or graduate studies in a French speaking country must show the certificate or degree obtained within the last five years.
- Students with French majors (in the US) must have obtained their degree within the last five years and must provide a copy of their degree and undergraduate transcript(s).
- Students who are not in the conditions mentioned above are required to take a French proficiency exam through the Language Department at AU and provide us with their results on the exam. Students must complete the exam within 30 minutes and test into the Third Year (300 Level).
At the beginning of their semester in residence, AUWCL students meet with the Nanterre Program Director and other members of the Nanterre law department to plan their course work.
All students in the program are expected to enroll in three (3) special introductory courses:
- Introduction to French Law
- Survey of European Union Law
- Legal Translation (English-French and French-English)
Together, these courses total approximately 65 hours of classroom time. In order to earn the maximum of 12 J.D. credits, students must select other courses totaling 75 hours. The formula on which awards of J.D. credit are based, which is prescribed by the American Bar Association, requires 700 minutes of class time for each credit earned. Thus, a total of 140 hours of class time is required to earn the full 12 credits available.
With the permission of the instructor and the Nanterre Program Director, AUWCL students are eligible to enroll in any of the courses offered in the department, from introductory to graduate level.
A complete list of each semester's regular course offerings and meeting times will be available only about six weeks before the beginning of the term. Students admitted to the Cooperative Program will receive this listing as it becomes available.
Note: Not every course will be offered every semester, and that some other courses may be non-divisible year-long offerings.
In making their course selections, participants in the Cooperative Program will want to bear in mind that law classes at Nanterre range from large lectures (with several hundred students) to small seminars (with 10 or 15). Moreover, some subject-matters may be taught, alternatively, as both large lectures and seminars, offering AUWCL students a choice.
The cost of living for AUWCL participants in the Cooperative Program is, to some degree, dependent on currency exchange rates.
For students needing to economize, student cafeterias on the Nanterre campus offer very inexpensive meals. Some modestly priced student housing is also available on campus, with accommodations running in the range of $250-300 per month. According to the Nanterre staff however, these rooms might not measure up to American students' expectations of comfort and convenience.
The International Relations Office of Nanterre will assist AUWCL students in making their own arrangements for off-campus housing. Among the possible alternatives are private rooms with shared baths in the residence maintained by the Foundation des Etats-Unis near the Parc Montsouris in central Paris at approximately $350-400 per month. To date, however, our students have opted to live in shared apartments in various areas of downtown Paris, paying $500 (or more) each on a monthly basis. Various temporary housing agencies in Paris are organized to provide assistance to visitors planning stays of less than a year, and our students have used these agencies successfully to locate accommodations. Additional information about housing options will be available to students accepted into the Cooperative Program before their departure for France.
For general questions and concerns please visit the Semester Exchange FAQ page.
All other questions and concerns should be directed to:
International Programs Analyst
Semester Exchange Program
American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 355
Washington, DC, 20016 USA
Telephone: (202) 274-4177
Fax: (202) 274-4005
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** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.