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Paris for Sciences Po Law School

Credit: Daniel Thierry © Paris Tourist Office

Sciences Po Law School, Paris

The Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (known as “Sciences Po”) was established in 1872 and is one of France’s most selective and highly regarded universities. Traditionally known for its academic focus on political science and economics, Sciences Po also offers robust programs in law, communications, finance, business, urban policy, management, and journalism. With a significant international student population and a strong global focus, Sciences Po ranks as one of the world’s elite academic institutions.

In 2009 Sciences Po Law School (SPLS) was created in order to train lawyers with an emphasis on critical thinking and creativity, as well as to equip them to play leadership roles in the worlds of both law and business. SPLS’ main areas of academic focus are economic law, the law of globalization, and legal theory. It offers specialized courses of study that feature small group teaching with an emphasis on inter-disciplinary approaches, and it is home to the Centre on Changes in Governance and Public Law (MADP) and Centre for European Studies.

While many of the 350 SPLS students are French, 20% of the student body is comprised of people from 32 other countries. The faculty includes 14 tenured professors, 5 associate professors, and 15 visiting professors, as well as 126 adjunct professors and lecturers.


Sciences Po is located in the heart of Paris, just off the Seine River and within walking distance of many famous French sites, including the Notre Dame de Paris, the Panthéon, Musée du Louvre, and the Assemblée Nationale. Sciences Po campus’s central location within Paris’s vibrant cultural and political setting provides a unique and stimulating academic environment. Outside of class students can take advantage of the fantastic array of arts, music, theatre, food and other cultural offerings of Paris as well as a wide variety of student organizations within the university itself.

Course Offerings and Credit

HLS students enrolled in the program can choose from Sciences Po’s rich graduate-level course offerings. All basic courses are offered in both French and English and HLS students may choose the language of instruction. Other courses are offered in either French or English and, again, HLS students may enroll in either type. The course listings for the Master’s in Economic Law program can be found on the SPLS website. Enrollment in particular classes may be limited based on classroom size, and students should note information below in the section on Academic Calendar.

Course loads will vary from student to student. HLS students may receive a total of 10 to 12 ungraded classroom credits in relation to work done through the semester abroad program. Please see Academic Requirements for more information about course requirements and how semester abroad credits are calculated.

Sciences Po grades students on a scale of 0 to 20, with 10/20 as the lowest passing grade. If a student is awarded credits for (passes) a course, he or she will be graded in relation to the rest of the class: the first 10% are given an A, the next 25% a B, the next 30% a C, the next 25% a D, and the remaining 10% receives an E. The letter F signifies that a student has failed to earn credit for the course.

Although many SPLS courses are evaluated by written examination, some Sciences Po courses determine grades on the basis of papers, class participation, or other criteria, or some combination thereof. Just as at HLS, Sciences Po evaluation methods may vary from course to course depending on the professor and subject matter. In lecture courses at Sciences Po that feature a written or oral final exam at the end of the semester, attendance at final exams is required; failure to attend an exam will result in failure of the course. Exchange students may not make up exams.

Sciences Po does not have an add/drop period so once students have selected their courses, they may not make changes.  Students should note, too, that many Sciences Po courses have a strict policy regarding attendance and absences from class are not permitted.

Language Proficiency

Sciences Po offers courses in both French and English. It is recommended that students who wish to take law courses taught in French have at least a “C1” level of proficiency. HLS students who do not speak French at a level sufficient to take courses in French should carefully review the English course offerings (see section above) to ensure that they are able to create a program of study that is suitably robust and consistent with their academic and career interests. Prior to study abroad, HLS students may improve their language proficiency and receive credit for foreign language courses at Harvard College in accordance with the HLS cross registration policy. Students may also find it helpful to arrive in France early for language acclimation and/or to take a language training course before law classes begin.

Academic Calendar

The academic year at Sciences Po Law School is divided into two semesters that run September through mid-December and January through April. Students should note that the Sciences Po Master’s In Economic Law program has two start dates for the spring semester — one for students taking first-year courses and one for students taking second-year courses.  In the academic year 2017-2018, the dates were January 27 (first-year classes) and January 15 (second-year classes).  HLS students may select from both sets of offerings but should be mindful of the start dates when planning semester abroad.

Application Process and Timeline

Students interested in the Sciences Po cooperative program should follow the Semester Abroad application process described on the Semester Abroad Eligibility and Application page.

Students applying for a semester at Sciences Po do not need to identify a foreign faculty advisor. Advisors at Sciences Po will be assigned to accepted students.

Students approved by the HLS Study Abroad Committee must also complete the SPLS application form for exchange students.

HLS may recommend multiple JD students to study at Sciences Po Law School each year but ultimately selection of the students will be made by Sciences Po. Since the establishment of the HLS-Sciences Po exchange program, the number of HLS JD students spending a semester at Sciences Po has ranged from three to eight annually.


Located in the heart of Paris, Sciences Po does not have housing on campus to offer its students. As a result, students must make arrangements to find their own accommodations. Sciences Po maintains a housing webpage that provides listings as well as information to help students in their search. Topics include practical and legal advice on renting in France, and housing benefits to which students may be entitled, among others. The Sciences Po website also features a guide for international students and practical information for incoming exchange students.

Disability Accomodations

Information about disability accommodations at Sciences Po may be found on the school’s website. Information from the French Ministry of Higher Education on services for the disabled is also available.

Contact Information

For further information, please contact Sara Zucker at (617) 495-9030 / or Andre Barbic at (617) 496-8732 /

Sciences Po Law School Executive Director Anne Solenne de Roux (+33 (0) 1 45 49 59 42 / and Assistant Professor Jeremy Perelman (+33 (0) 1 45 49 72 90 / can also provide information.