Mount Holyoke Program in Montpellier, France

Montpellier is an ideal location for students who wish to study in a vibrant, historic city, where speaking French is a must and opportunities to meet French people and experience French culture abound. Students take courses alongside French students at the Université Paul Valéry (UPV), and they have ample opportunities to participate in a variety of cultural activities. They will also have the benefit of individual attention and advising provided by our on-site program director, Amy Loth (MHC ’94).

The City of Montpellier

The city of Montpellier, population 250,000, is the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. Home to a renowned university system and nearly 70,000 students, Montpellier serves as an important intellectual and technological center. Its people and the charming historic city center epitomize the warm and friendly culture of southern France.

With beautifully preserved architecture dating back to the Middle Ages and ultra-modern cultural and sporting facilities, Montpellier is an exciting blend of the old and the new. This dynamic city is home to one of France's premier art museums, the Musée Fabre, and boasts national dance, music, theater, and cinema festivals that attract visitors from across Europe.

Montpellier is located just seven miles from the Mediterranean coast; the beach towns of Palavas, Carnon and La Grande Motte are just a short bus ride from the center of town (15-20 minutes). Les Cevennes, the mountainous region just north of Montpellier, offers excellent day hiking around medieval villages such as Saint Guilhem le Désert. Montpellier is a hub for both train and air travel around Europe. Spain is only 3 hours by train and the Italian border is only 4 hours away. The TGV from Montpellier to Paris takes just 3 hours, making it an easy (and inexpensive, with discounted train tickets for students) weekend getaway. There are regular flights from Montpellier to London, Dublin, and many other European cities. The airport in Montpellier is located 15 minutes from the city center and there is a shuttle bus that runs every half hour. The train station is located in the center of Montpellier, a 5-minute walk from the central plaza, la Place de la Comédie.

Academic Program

Students enroll in regular courses alongside French students at Université Paul Valéry, the liberal arts campus of the University of Montpellier. This unique opportunity allows MHC students to experience French university life firsthand, to sample a wide variety of courses, and to make friends with French students. UPV is located in a 25-acre park within walking distance of downtown Montpellier. More than 15,000 students are enrolled each year in a wide range of courses in the humanities and social sciences.

The MHC program in Montpellier has established special partnerships with other universities in Montpellier as well.  Students with a strong background in French who are majoring in the sciences or mathematics may qualify to take one course per semester at the Université des Sciences et Mathématiques, located across the street from UPV.  Dance majors or minors may qualify to take contemporary and classical dance classes at the Conservatoire de Montpellier.  Religion majors or minors may qualify to take one course per semester at the Faculté de Théologie in Montpellier.  Students interested in political science may take one course during the fall semester only at the Université des Sciences Politiques in downtown Montpellier.

The academic year runs from late August to May. Students may enroll for the full academic year, for fall semester only (late August to the third week in December), or for spring semester (early January to May).

All students participate in an orientation program coordinated by Amy Loth prior to the start of classes. During orientation, students will learn about Montpellier and its environs, prepare for the academic system at UPV, and enjoy a variety of activities that will introduce them to French life and culture.

Program Director

Students with Amy Loth, center.

The on-site program director, Amy Gosselin Loth (MHC '94), organizes orientation and housing, and is available throughout the year to respond to students' academic and practical concerns. Amy spent her own junior year at UPV, and has been directing the MHC program since its inception in 1998. She is now a permanent resident of France.  She holds a Master's degree in Comparative Politics and Public Policy from Université Montpellier I, Faculté de Droit et Sciences politique.

Students are welcome to contact Amy at any time with questions about the program.


The MHC Program in Montpellier offers two housing options: homestays or furnished apartments. Homestays provide a unique opportunity to experience first-hand the ways in which family life reflects cultural and personal differences, from attitudes toward food and privacy to socio-economic factors that affect one's daily life. They are also an ideal way for students to practice their French outside of the classroom setting. Homestay students typically have breakfast each day, and dinner five days a week, with their hosts. Students who are interested in a homestay should consult with Amy Loth upon their acceptance to the program.

Students may instead choose to live in furnished apartments, with other program participants, or in individual studios at l'Observatoire, a residence for French and international students.  All apartments and studios are fully furnished and are located within short walking distances from each other, as well as from Amy Loth's own apartment, in the historic downtown district of Montpellier.  These options offer students the opportunity to prepare their own meals and to experience the typical French student lifestyle.  Apartments are mostly doubles and triples with one or two bedrooms (single bedrooms are not guaranteed), a kitchen, a living room, and a bathroom with either a shower or a bathtub; studios include a kitchenette and private bathroom. 


Program fee for 2014-2015:

The program fee for the year is $36,020 for students who live in a homestay, or $33,440 for apartment housing.

The fee for fall or spring semester is $19,370 for students who live in a homestay, or $18,360 for apartment housing.

The fee includes tuition, orientation, round‐trip airfare from the US point of departure, program excursions and activities, housing, and, for students in homestays, partial board. The homestay option typically includes daily breakfast and five dinners per week.

Not included in the program fee are meals (for students living in apartments), books, personal and miscellaneous expenses, additional travel, etc.  Students are also responsible for Mount Holyoke's administrative fee ($900 per semester).

Eligible students may expect to use appropriate state and federal financial aid, as well as other outside resources, to participate in the program. Eligible Mount Holyoke students selected for the program are guaranteed Laurel Fellowships provided that they apply by the deadline and qualify for aid on the basis of the program cost; see the Financial Planning section of our web site for details. All students who expect to receive financial aid to participate in the program must submit the Application for Mount Holyoke Laurel Fellowships for Off-Campus Study according to the stated deadline or they will not be eligible for any financial assistance from the College.  For students who are approved for Laurel Fellowships, the budget for financial aid purposes will include the program fee, Mount Holyoke’s administrative fee, and allowances toward meals, books, and personal expenses.

Requirements and Application

Students ordinarily must meet Mount Holyoke’s general requirements for academic leave of absence, including a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.7, that they not be significantly behind in credits, that they present a plan of study abroad that will be suitable to our curriculum and enable them to remain on track to graduate on schedule. They must also have a minimum grade point average in French of 3.0, and meet the French Department’s requirements for study in a Francophone country: they must take at least one four-credit course in French each semester prior to going abroad, and must complete at least one course in culture and literature at the 200 level (215, 219, 225, or 230) prior to their departure for France.

Special arrangement for students who began with French 101 and wish to study abroad for the full year:

Students who began their study of French with French 101 in their first semester and who wish to study in Montpellier for the full year may apply on the basis of four semesters of French (completing French 201 and 203 in the sophomore year), under a special arrangement.  Approval in this case is typically limited to students who have done strong work in French 101-102 and are doing well in French 201 at the time of application (typically, A or A- level work), have solid support from the instructors of those courses, and who wish to spend the entire year in Montpellier.  Coursework in the fall semester in Montpellier will consist of support courses for international students offered by RI ("Service des Relations Internationales").  These support courses, all taught in French, include grammar, phonetics, and theme-based options (such as theatre, art history, gender studies, etc.).  In the second semester, students would take a combination of "cours RI" and integrated courses, as our students in Montpellier have always done.

Students who began in French 101 and who wish to study in France for one semester should plan to follow the normal rules of eligibility for study abroad and go to France in the spring semester of the junior year, or fall semester of senior year, having first completed French 215, 219, 225, or 230.

All students are required to have health and medical insurance that will cover them in France (the Mount Holyoke student health insurance plan is available for this purpose). Students who have particular health or medical concerns or requirements are encouraged to discuss them with us in advance so that we can determine whether appropriate resources are available in Montpellier.

Applications are generally due in early December for the following fall or academic year, and at the end of March for the following spring; see Deadlines for details.