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Programs and Deadlines
About Penn Abroad
Penn Semester in Lyon (BLL)
Lyon, France (Exchange Program) (Fall Spring Academic Year Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Fall,
Homepage: Click to visit
Budget Sheets Fall,
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Prerequisite:
5 semesters of college level language (or equivalent)
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0
Credit Available For:
College, Huntsman, Wharton
Other Eligibility Requirements: Grades of B or better in French
Type of Program:
Direct Enrollment, Exchange, Hybrid
Application Deadline:
Fall/Year: February 15, Spring: October 1
Program Description:
Market in Lyon
Photo Credit: Julie Kranseler

Program Snapshot

(click on the links highlighted in blue below to learn more)
The Academic Program
  • Direct Enrollment through Universite Lumiere Lyon 2 and IEP Lyon
  • Exchange
  • Fall Semester: late August - late December
  • Spring Semester: early January - mid-June
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Grades of B or better in French
  • 5 or more semesters of college-level French
  • Homestay
The City of Lyon
  • Lyon is France’s second-largest city with 1.7 million people in the Metropolitan area.
  • More than 120,000 students flock to Lyon every year.
  • According to the Michelin Guide, Lyon is home to 22 of the best restaurants in France.
  • Lyon has the #1 French mass public transit system outside of Paris.
  • Lyon has more than 40 museums and theaters providing various cultural attractions.
  • From Lyon, one can ski in the Alps or swim in the Mediterranean in under two hours.
Special Features
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Internships
Financial Matters
Penn Resources

This program requires an advising session with a Program Manager prior to opening an application. To view the schedule for upcoming group advising sessions, or to schedule an individual appointment, select the ‘Schedule an Advising Appointment’ button on the Penn Abroad homepage.  

The Academic Program

L'Université Lumière Lyon 2 and IEP Lyon

Created in 1973 following the reorganization of Lyon universities, the Université Lumière-Lyon 2 is one of the city's three public universities. The Université Lumière-Lyon 2 enrolls about 22,000 students, of which over 4,000 are international, and specializes in Arts and Letters, and the Human Sciences and Social Sciences, providing multidisciplinary education in six facultés and is the home of eight institutes including the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (IEP) also known as Sciences Po. The Faculté des Lettres at Lyon 2 was recently ranked as the top program for Lettres in France by Le Nouvel Observateur. Lyon 2 is the largest education center in the Rhône-Alpes region and, with its 45 research centers, is ranked among the top research institutions in France.

The University has two campuses. The original campus is in a late 19th century building in the historical center of Lyon on the bank of the Rhône. This main building houses the administration of the university and the Faculté des Lettres, des Sciences du Langage et des Arts, la Faculté des Langues, and la Faculté de Sciences Economiques et de Gestion. The Institutes of Education; of Urbanisme; of Formation Syndicale; of Etudes du Travail; and of Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) are also located in this downtown site, as is the Centre International d'Etudes Françaises. Lyon 2's second campus is located on the outskirts of the city at Bron-Parilly, now also known as the Porte des Alpes. The two campuses are linked by regular bus service. The Bron-Parilly campus is home to la Faculté de Géographie, Histoire, Histoire de l'Art et Tourisme, la Faculté des Sciences Juridiques, and la Faculté d'Anthropologie et de Sociologie, as well as the Institut de Psychologie; the Institut de la Communication, de l'Information et des Arts de la Représentation. There are libraries at both sites.

Penn Students at Lyon 2 and IEP
Participants will attend an intensive stage de pré-rentrée universitaire (C.I.E.F) French language course and orientation to the University prior to the start of classes.
Students who need to work further on their French language skills will continue taking a language class during the semester. With the exception of the orientation course and any refresher or remedial courses taken in French as a Foreign Language, visiting students are expected to take the same courses as French students at the same level of background. To assist students in their studies, the Penn on-site coordinator can arrange for tutoring in a variety of subjects.

Non-degree seeking exchange students are permitted to select courses from different Facultés and at different levels simultaneously, although it is highly recommended that students pick one or two Facultés in which to pursue their courses. Students needing to take a course in a subject area not available at Lyon 2 may request at the time of application to take a course at one of the other Lyon universities.

Course Load

Teaching is organized in the format of lectures (cours magistraux) and practical classes (travaux dirigés). For each cours magistral there may be a corresponding session of travail dirigé. The standard course load at undergraduate level at Lyon 2 is 30 ECTS (European Credit Transfer Scheme) credits per semester. Since Penn students, unlike regular students, are permitted to choose courses in different Facultés and at different levels simultaneously, only advisors on site are able to determine the proper weighting of course work in different subjects.

Wharton Credit -  Wharton students may enroll in courses through the Faculté des Sciences Economiques et de Gestion for Wharton credit.

French 201 (1 cu): Intensive French Language and Culture. An intensive language and culture course that is designed to hone your French skills while introducing students to France, Lyon, and French culture. This CIEF course is mandatory for all students, regardless of level of French.

French 216/218 (1 cu): Advanced French. This optional course is a continuation of the September intensive course, and will address French Cinema and Cross-Cultural Communication. This highly interactive course is designed to introduce students to the world of French film and to issues of cross-cultural communication. In the cinema theme students will view, analyze and critique French films. The communications there will introduce students to cultural differences and highlight the fundamentals of cross-cultural communication. The two themes will be taught by different professors and combined will equal 1 cu. This course is only available depending upon enrollment.

Grading Scale

French university grades are awarded on a 20 point scale (including decimal points, e.g. 13.5). The scale is not based on an equal distribution of points nor on a percentage. In the French system, a perfect exam or paper may not always be awarded a grade of 20 depending on individual professors' practices. Students are assessed on the basis of continuous work, and mid-term and final exams.

Grades are reported on the French scale and are converted to Penn grades according to standard French – U.S. grade equivalencies:

A = 14-20
A- = 13+
B+ = 12+
B = 11+
B- = 10+
C+= 9+
C = 8+
C- = 7+
D = 6+

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school.

Learn More About Lyon 2 and IEP
Lyon 2



  • GPA 3.0
  • Grades of B or better in French
  • At least 5 semesters of French required



Penn students in Lyon are expected to live with local French host families as a means of deepening their study abroad experience linguistically and culturally. Students are housed individually with French families where they can experience daily life à la française and develop their skills in idiomatic French. The families often invite students on excursions, to sporting or cultural events, and occasionally even to family gatherings. Meals provide excellent opportunities to exchange opinions about events in the news, or to ask questions about something that you, as a visitor from another country, may not have understood. The host families provide breakfast, dinner and weekend meals. Students make their own arrangements for lunch and have access to subsidized university restaurants.

The City of Lyon

The history of Lyon goes back more than 2000 years to the Roman occupation of Gaul and vestiges dating from this period can still be seen today. In the Middle Ages Lyon's trade fairs attracted merchants and bankers from all over Europe; some of them settled here and they built the district known today as Vieux Lyon, an exceptional example of 15th and 16th century architecture, now carefully restored and officially designated as a World Heritage site. The traditional industry of Lyon was silk weaving, and the silk trade was the basis for the economic development of the city. Other industries such as chemicals and mechanical engineering developed around silk manufacturing. Lyon is also the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region, a prosperous region with a dynamic economy and the gastronomic capital of France!

Today the Greater Lyon metropolitan area has a population of almost 1.5 million, making it France's second largest city after Paris. Lyon has everything one would expect to find in a big city, yet it is a city on a human scale: the city centre is compact and the countryside is hardly more than half-an-hour away. There is an exceptional range on offer in all fields: film, theatre, music, dance, museums, theme cafés, university public lectures and more. Lyon has an Opera House and a national symphony orchestra, a national centre for contemporary art, a house of dance, the Lumière cinema institute and a wide variety of sites of artistic creation. Many major events punctuate cultural life: for example, the biennial dance festival, the biennial contemporary art festival, the science festival, the "Nuits de Fourvière" (popular and classical concerts, plus theatre, from the Roman amphitheatre). And, every year, on the 8th of December, the city is illuminated for the Festival of Light. All these attraction are made easily accessible on account of the fast and reliable public transport system.

In October 2004, representatives of the Mayors of Lyon and Philadelphia signed an agreement of economic cooperation which is broadly equivalent to the inauguration of a Sister City relationship between our two cities.


Special Features


Second semester students have the possibility of internship placement during the semester, which may or may not be extended into the summer months.  Interested students should apply in the first semester and provide an idea of their interests. This experience provides the student with the opportunity to study and to work in France, thus adding another dimension to the cultural and linguistic immersion.

Please note that internships domains are limited and may not be remunerated.

The Application Process


Financial Matters

Students are charged Penn tuition and student fee (called study abroad fee the semester abroad) for all Penn programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, meals, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheet to determine other costs. 

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package.  

Penn Resources

Students who study abroad are encouraged to take advantage of Penn's many resources for students, even if you haven't used them before going abroad.  There is an extensive list of resources on the Penn Abroad website that can help you to explore issues that might pertain to you and to help you prepare for a term abroad. 

In addition to these resources, we encourage you to reach out to a past program participant or ambassador to learn more about the program from a student perspective.

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