Skip to main content
Boats on the river

Home to the United Nations, Geneva is a cosmopolitan city located on the beautiful Lac Léman. Study at the University of Geneva or at the Graduate Institute for International Studies and Development. International internship opportunities are available with human rights, security, environment and development organizations.

Application Deadline

Smith student applications for the 2024–25 academic year, fall 2024, and for spring 2025 are due by Monday, February 5, 2024. Smith Programs Abroad accept applications from students of any gender identity. Guest student applications will be accepted until the second Monday in March (March 11, 2024) on a space-available, rolling basis; applying by the February deadline is encouraged.

The Curriculum

The program begins with a three-week orientation including intensive French language study, culture and history courses, and excursions. During the semester, students study in French and/or English and follow one of the three program tracks.

Choose Your Curricular Track

Track A: International Internship Program

Intern at an international organization at least three days per week; study French; take the core International Relations and Practicum courses at the Smith Center; enroll in at least one Graduate Institute or University of Geneva course. Available fall or spring; can be combined with Track B or C for a year-long option. Applicants for the fall semester may apply with no prior French study.  Applicants for the spring semester are expected to have at least one semester of college-level French or the equivalent.

Track B: University Studies Program

This track welcomes students from every discipline in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences. Students take French at the Smith Center and choose additional courses at the University of Geneva according to their interests, major and level of French. Available for the academic year for students with two years of college-level French or equivalent; and spring for students with at least one year of French or equivalent.

Track C: International Relations Program

Enroll in four Smith Center and Graduate Institute courses each semester, including French language. Take a core International Relations course at the Smith Center along with other International Studies/Development courses at the Graduate Institute. Together with other undergrads, follow the Graduate Institute “mentorship program” (visits in International Geneva institutions and presentations by international professionals). Available fall or spring. Can be combined with Tracks A or B for a year-long option. Applicants for the fall semester may apply with no prior French study.  Applicants for the spring semester are expected to have at least one semester of college-level French or the equivalent.

Resident Academic Director: Geneviève Piron, Ph.D.
Smith Faculty Liaison: Brent Durbin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Government
Local program staff: Patile Minassian

The year in Geneva begins with a three-week orientation to prepare students for academic and cultural life in Geneva. The orientation is organized in three parts: French language courses, familiarization with everyday life (practical tours, scavenger hunts), and site visits (City Tours, United Nations, Museums, etc.)

French language classes include classroom and outside the classroom sessions in order to help students to find their way into the urban geography and culture of Geneva. Students practice oral and written French communication in immersion classes (small groups, 2-3 levels). Courses in Swiss Francophone Literature and History of Switzerland and Geneva are given to advanced and high intermediate students.

A two-day trip outside the city of Geneva (for ex., Burgundy, Swiss Mountains) concludes the orientation.

Students apply to one of three program tracks in Geneva. Students in all tracks are expected to study French or take a course taught in French each semester. Students are expected to take at least one University of Geneva or Graduate Institute course per semester. Please note that the University of Geneva is a French-speaking institution.

Course Requirements by Curricular Track

Track A: International Internship Program

Students admitted to this track intern in an international organization at least three days per week and take the following courses:

  • International Relations core course (for 2024–25, TBC)
  • Practicum in International Organizations
  • At least one Graduate Institute course (under some circumstances, replaced by a course at the University of Geneva), in French or English
  • French language course at the Smith Center, depending on language ability
Track B: University Studies Program

Students admitted to this track enroll in four to five courses each semester.

  • Two to three university courses in French or English, depending on language ability
  • One or two Smith Center courses
  • French language course at the Smith Center, depending on language ability
Track C: International Relations Program

Students admitted to this track enroll in four to five courses each semester.

  • Two courses at the Graduate Institute (usually in English, French available), one at the undergrad level and one at the Master level.
  • Smith Center core course: International Relations core course (for 2024–25, TBC) (taught in English)
  • French language course at the Smith Center, depending on language ability
  • One additional university course in French or English may be available with permission of the Director and Smith College

Courses

About the Smith Center

The centrally located Smith Center houses the offices of the resident academic director and the associate director, who provide academic advising and friendly guidance. The Smith Center has a study lounge with internet, computers and a printer, a small library, two classrooms, and a kitchenette.

Photo of the University of Geneva

University of Geneva Courses

All students in Track B may choose to enroll in Université de Genève courses from the faculties/departments listed below. The language requirement to take full advantage of the courses is advanced. Some courses taught in English are available for students with less than two years of French. These are offered primarily in the spring semester in the English Department, Global Studies Institute, and Economics.

Faculté des Lettres

Courses in classical studies, gender studies, French, English, cinema, art history, history, civilization in the Middle Ages, linguistics, comparative literature, musicology, philosophy. For foreign languages (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian), classes include more hours than at Smith.

Faculté de Sciences de la Société (SDS) and Faculté d'économie et de management (GSEM)

Courses in social sciences, political science, socioeconomics, economics, international management, and international trade.

Global Studies Institute (GSI)

Courses in international economics, history, anthropology, international law, and international relations.

Faculté de Traduction et d'Interprétation (FTI)

One of the oldest translation schools in the world, the FTI of the Université de Genève offers courses in translation, linguistics, multilingual communication, and interpretation.

Other Faculties

The university also houses the Faculté des SciencesFaculté de Psychologie et d'Education and the Faculté de Théologie. The Schools of Medicine and Law are not open to students on the Smith Geneva Program.

The Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development is an academic institution connected to the UN and the hub of international organizations in Geneva. It offers Master programs in international history and politics, sociology, development, economics, etc. Most of the interdisciplinary courses are open to Smith students. Tracks A and C take classes at the Graduate Institute in at least one of the undergrad classes (History of the UN or International Law). Master classes can be available for Track As upon availability. Track C students take one or two Master electives and the mentoring program that provides visits to Geneva organizations and connection with professionals. 

Program Dates

Arrive in Geneva

Friday, August 25

Orientation

Monday, August 28 – Friday, September 15

Fall Semester 2023

  • University and Smith Center courses begin: Monday, September 18
  • Fall courses end: Friday, December 22
  • Housing for fall-semester students ends: Monday, December 25
  • University fall exams (for full-year students only): January 22 – February 9 (to be confirmed)

Winter Break

(for full-year students)

Friday, December 22, 2022 – Sunday, February 18, 2023

Spring Semester 2024 Program Orientation

(for spring-only students)

  • Arrive in Geneva: Friday, January 26
  • Orientation: Monday, January 29 – Friday, February 16

Spring Semester 2024

  • University and Smith Center courses begin: Monday, February 19
  • Spring Break: Friday, March  29 - Sunday, April 7
  • Spring Semester ends: Friday, May 311
  • Spring Semester University exams: Monday, June 3 – Saturday, June 22 (to be confirmed)
  • Housing and insurance ends: Sunday, June 232

1The end date of the program depends on the student's choice of track and classes and can only be determined after advising. Track A and C students taking classes at the Graduate Institute can be finished on June 1, 2024. Track B students must take classes at the University of Geneva and usually have final exams.

2In the spring, students may stay in their rooms after June 23, 2024 if a final exam is scheduled after that date. In this case, the student may stay two days beyond the last exam date.

Life in Geneva

Group of students posing while eating in Geneva

Student Residences

Year-long Students

Year-long students live in international student residences in the center of Geneva. The Cité universitaire houses students in fully equipped rooms, which enable them to integrate into the life of the city and University. Students registered with IHEID (Track A in the fall) live at Grand-Morillon, a brand new residence in the heart of International Geneva.

Each student has a single room with a shared kitchen, bathrooms and common space. Students find it economical to buy groceries with the program-provided living stipend, and to cook for themselves and with their suitemates. There are many opportunities to connect with local students, including the popular wintertime University hosted ski trips.

Depending on capacity, students staying for the whole year can also be placed in the other residences (see below).

Fall or Spring Semester Students

Fall or spring semester students occupy single or double rooms in different student residences: Cité Universitaire, a big community building for University of Geneva students, Grand Morillon, a new international students residence for Graduate Institute students and interns, or Home St-Pierre, a cozy women’s residence located in a historic building in the Old Town. In all instances, students have access to kitchen facilities and wifi. Semester students also receive a food stipend for their meals and have many opportunities to participate in University of Geneva cultural and sports activities.

Activities & Excursions

The city of Geneva, the surrounding region of western France, and destinations throughout Switzerland offer students a wide range of activities during the academic year.

Cultural Excursions

During orientation, a two-day trip is organized to help students socialize and discover the region: for instance, Burgundy (night in a castle, bike trip in the vineyard, and wine tasting) or Swiss Mountains (night in a chalet, sleigh ride, chocolate workshop)

During the semester typical day trips can include the medieval Château of Chillon, the Swiss capital of Bern, the medieval French city of Yvoire and the Lavaux vineyards (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Cultural & Sportive Activities

Small group and individual outings to the theater, the opera, the museums and to lectures on politics and international relations. The Erasmus Students Network, Geneva, offers a warm welcome and organizes parties and events; the University of Geneva offers a variety of cultural activities such as theatre, dance, cinema club, choir, and a wide range of sport activities open to Graduate Institute students too. Among other activities, enjoy sailing or rowing on the beautiful Lac Léman, horseback riding, alpinism or a ski trip to the French or Swiss Alps.

Cultural Immersion

Occasional invitations from alumnae families to join them for discussions of the "Swiss way of life."

Applying

Please be sure you meet Smith College's eligibility requirements for approval to study abroad. In addition, Smith in Geneva has its own program-specific requirements. Women and men from four-year colleges are invited to apply. All program tracks require a 3.0 GPA. 

Curricular Track Requirements

Track A: International Internship Program
  • There is no French language requirement for the fall semester. For spring semester, students must have completed at least one semester of college-level French or equivalent required; ability to communicate in elementary French expected
  • Evidence of maturity, responsibility and preparation for study abroad and interning in an international organization
Track B: University Studies Program
  • Two years of college-level French or equivalent required for full-year enrollment; at least one year of French or equivalent required for spring enrollment
  • Evidence of maturity, responsibility and preparation for study abroad
Track C: International Relations Program
  • There is no French language requirement for the fall semester. For spring semester, students must have completed at least one semester of college-level French or equivalent required; ability to communicate in elementary French expected
  • Background in political science, government, or economics
  • Evidence of maturity, responsibility and preparation for study abroad

Application Materials

  • Smith Programs Abroad Application
  • Language Recommendation
  • Non-language Faculty Recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Copy of passport

Applicants from other colleges must also submit:

  • Home School Statement of Support
  • Official transcript
  • Original sample of written work in language of the program which has been submitted for a course and graded by an instructor

Students can find the application materials and apply to a Smith Program Abroad online using the new Smith International Travel Experiences System (SITES) by clicking on the appropriate log in option below.

Smith Student Log In  
Guest Student Log In

Before applying to a Smith Program Abroad be sure to:

2023-24 Semester Fees

Tuition: $30,630
Room and Board: $10, 655

Coverage

The Smith Program Abroad fees in Florence, Geneva, Hamburg and Paris include intensive language instruction, cultural orientation, tuition, academic advising, assistance with university enrollment (if applicable) and course selection, supplemental study abroad insurance, medical evacuation and repatriation coverage, excursions and cultural events, room, board, cell phones or SIM cards, and the services of on-site directors

Smith Program Abroad fees do not include international travel, passport and visa fees, books and art supplies, and personal expenses including phone calls.

Financial Aid

Smith College students are eligible for financial aid on the same basis as when they are studying in Northampton (with a few exceptions). For questions about Smith financial aid related to study abroad on a Smith program, please visit Student Financial Services.

Smith College does not provide financial aid to students from other institutions; those students should contact their own college for financial aid assistance.

Health Insurance

All students enrolled in one of the four Smith Programs Abroad are automatically covered by a supplemental study abroad insurance policy through GeoBlue.

GeoBlue Student Member Guide (PDF)

Please note that this is a supplemental plan only. All students participating in these programs are also required to be covered by a U.S.-based primary health insurance and will be automatically enrolled in and billed for the Smith College student health insurance plan through Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk at the beginning of the term abroad.

For students who are U.S. citizens, this insurance plan may be waived online at Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk if the student has another primary health insurance policy that provides comparable coverage. International students are required to be covered by the Smith College student health insurance plan through Gallagher Student Health & Special Risk as you would on campus.

More information about insurance is available on our Health & Safety section.

Visas for Studying in Switzerland

The Swiss government requires all students who are not EU citizens to obtain a student visa before arriving in Geneva. The Office for International Study (OIS) will facilitate a group visa application process for students studying on the Geneva program.

Students must submit a copy of their passport valid six months beyond the end of their studies in Geneva with their Smith program application. Proof of application for a passport or proof of passport renewal such as a receipt will be accepted.

Students (U.S. citizens, permanent residents and international students with valid U.S. visas) will submit all the required visa application materials to the OIS by the stated deadlines. The OIS will in turn submit the visa application materials to the Swiss Consulate in New York approximately 14 weeks in advance of the program start date. Processing may take up to eight weeks. Students will be notified by OIS when their visa applications have been approved. Students will then send their passports to the New York Consulate for visa issuance.

Things to Consider

Because students must send their passports to the New York Consulate for about a week in late July or early August, international travel during this time is strongly discouraged. Students who arrive in Switzerland without student visas will have to return to the U.S. to obtain the student visa.

Please note that students who stay in Switzerland during the summer are responsible for all living expenses, visa requirements, medical insurance, etc.

Accepted Students

For resources and information about the Swiss visa application process, please visit the Geneva Accepted Students website.