St. Sulpice Fountain
Notre Dame
Grand Palais

Plan Ahead for Study Abroad

It’s never too early to start planning for study abroad. Getting a passport can take anywhere from a couple weeks to two months. Currently, American and Canadians can choose a short term (January or Summer) or a semester-length (Fall or Spring) program without needing to get a visa. Only students wishing to combine two or more programs where the study period extends beyond 90 days, will they be required to seek a visa from the nearest French Consulate.

In addition to resolving any potential passport or visa issues, students are strongly advised to discuss their study abroad plans with their home school advisor. This will help insure that all the courses a student will sign up will help fulfill needed requirements and avoid slowing down completion of all diploma requirements. All PICA classes are U.S. accredited through Whittier College. Some schools accept the PICA/Athena transcript for proof of successful completion of coursework with PICA. Other schools request a separate transcript from Whittier College.

Obtaining a Passport

For those who do not have a passport, this will be a necessity for studying in France and can take several weeks or more to complete the application and receive your passport. No passport, no travel to France for non-European citizens! Typically, U.S. citizens can apply for a first passport at their local town hall or post office. For a first passport, you’ll need to fill out one form, provide evidence of citizenship (certificate of birth or naturalization), a government issued ID (driver’s license), color ID photos (double check the size format required, and, sadly, don’t smile for your picture–it won’t be accepted!) and pay a $110 application fee and a $35 “execution fee” (as of 2018). Without paying an expedited service, you can expect to wait 4 to 6 weeks to receive your passport. To expedite the processing of your U.S. passport you can expect to pay an extra $60 (in 2018).

Already have a Passport?

Great! Just double check that its expiration date is at least three months after the last day you will be in France for the PICA study program. Anything less will likely prohibit you from flying to France!

Visa Question

Do you need a visa to study in France with PICA? It depends.

No Need for Visa

Currently, students holding North American passports do NOT need a visa for our short term or semester length programs. Likewise, anyone holding citizenship in a European Union country, there is no need for a study visa.

Will Need a Visa

However, if students with North American passports wish to study for a full academic year (or any combination of programs requiring students to remain in France for more than 90 days), they will be required to obtain a study visa.

Likewise, for foreign nationals who are studying in the United States, you may be required to get a study visa. Consult a French Consulate website in the nearest big city to you to see what you will need. For those who have citizenship in a European Union country, there is no need for a visa to study in France, regardless of the length of your stay.

For those needing a study visa, here is a link to Campus France USA which oversees the visa application process. It seems, finally, after years, that the applications can be filled out and paid for completely online. It’s unclear if they have also done away with the mandatory visit to the French Consulate nearest you (only in big cities).

International Flights

Your PICA tuition and fees do NOT cover international flights. Please wait until your formal acceptance into the program before booking your flights. Applying early will help you receive earlier notification of your acceptance which will enable you sometimes to save considerable money when booking your flights to Paris.

Register Here to Study in Paris!

If you’re ready to make the leap, click here to begin the Paris Application Process with our partners Athena Abroad! Their team will help answer all your questions.

Learn more about Paris on these other PICA pages: