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FRANCE - ISEP Universite du Havre

Le Havre is more than just a port city in northwestern France: named a World Heritage site for its postwar architecture and home to renowned impressionist painters, the city also houses the Université du Havre. The university is ideal for students seeking to improve their French skills and offers course options in both French and English, French lessons at every level, tailorable credit-bearing volunteering opportunities, and a welcoming environment for international students (that includes a peer-tutoring program!). 

Students studying in France must be independent, self-reliant, organized, and able to handle ambiguity in order to successfully immerse into the highly structured and often times bureaucratic French university system.

A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.

Learn more about the Université du Havre here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  
  • Language Requirement: A minimum of 4-5 semesters of university-level French must be completed prior to the program
  • The student must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).

Le Havre, in the northwest, is France’s second largest port. The town was largely rebuilt after World War II and today features beaches and a marina. Le Havre’s central location offers frequent ferry service to Great Britain and Ireland and facilitates travel all over Europe.

Le Havre is more than just a port city in northwestern France: named a World Heritage site for its postwar architecture and home to renowned impressionist painters, the city also houses the Université du Havre. The university is ideal for students seeking to improve their French skills, offers course options in both French and English, French lessons at every level, tailorable credit-bearing volunteering opportunities and a welcoming environment for international students (that includes a peer-tutoring program). Students with an intermediate to advanced French level can take a full course load of regular university courses in French alongside local French students. 

Economics, international trade, languages, law, and mathematics are the most appropriate fields for ISEP participants. Cooperative education programs in business, computer science, engineering, trade with Asia, trade with Latin America, international trade, management, management of sales and purchasing, negotiation, transport and logistics and translation studies are open to ISEP participants. 

Looking for programs in English? Le Havre has three! Browse the different program offerings to see what Le Havre has to offer.

Program Website

Fields of Study

  • Area Studies
  • Business:

    Business Management,  Economics,  International Business/Trade/Commerce

  • Communication
  • Computer and Information Sciences
  • Engineering: 

    Civil Engineering,  Electrical and Electronics Engineering,  Industrial Engineering,  Mechanical Engineering

  • Foreign Languages and Literature: 

    Arabic Language and Literature,  Chinese Language and Literature,  Dutch/Flemish Language and Literature ,  Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Other,  French Language and Literature,  German Language and Literature,  Italian Language and Literature,  Japanese Language and Literature,  Korean Language and Literature,  Portuguese Language and Literature,  Russian Language and Literature,  Spanish Language and Literature

  • History 
  • International/Global Studies

    International Relations and Affairs

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences


  • Mathematics
  • Physical Sciences
  • Social Sciences:

    Geography, Sociology



French universities operate in ways that are quite different from the system with which you are familiar. Understanding the differences will help you plan your program of study in France, use your time effectively while you are there and return with transferable credits. French students follow a highly structured curriculum specific to the degree they are pursuing from day one at the university. They do not take “liberal arts” or general education requirements for 2 years before focusing on a major or area of study as most U.S. students do. 

In general, French students have to assume more responsibility for their own lives on campus than American students. They do not have as many campus support systems as American students, and they too may experience frustration when they first begin their studies! The amount of information you receive before you leave and during the first days or weeks of your stay abroad may seem overwhelming. However, if you review the material sent to you by ISEP and your host institution carefully, you will be ready to meet the challenges of adjusting to a different system and find your coordinator and professors more willing to help you than if you had not prepared yourself.

French professors are not as accessible as their American counterparts. Increasingly, however, professors do have office hours or may be available if you make an appointment. They will also be willing to answer questions and discuss problems before or immediately after class. It would be a good idea to introduce yourself to the professor at the beginning of the year, explaining that you are an international student. Do ask other students in class for advice or assistance if you do not understand something.

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

Students typically enroll in 12-15 hours of class per week. A term runs for 12-13 weeks.  Students must enroll in 30 ECTS to earn the equivalent of 4 Lake Forest credits.

Please follow the instructions provided through the link “Tips for Finding Courses”.


To view available courses, click on “Offre de Formation” 

  1. Click on a “licences” 
  2. Click “Téléchargez la fiche”

Website for Course Availability



Language Notes: A non-intensive French language course is offered throughout the academic year at an intermediate level. Contact hours per week: 3

Pre-session: A two-week pre-session intensive French language course is offered in September for all international students.


Registration (inscription) is the process of enrollment into the university; you will fill out many forms and hand in several passport-size photos in order to receive the various university cards signifying your enrollment.

Course Selection: 
As an exchange student, you have greater flexibility in choosing courses than French students do. You do not need to take a complete package of courses at one level. However, if you focus on courses in one or two departments, you will find it easier to put together a schedule, your program of studies will be more cohesive, and you will have a better chance of getting to know French students because you will be seeing the same group on a regular basis.

Selection of courses is done during registration. You should expect to have to go to each building that houses the faculté (department) of the course you wish to take, find the administrative office, ask for a course listing and sign up for the desired course. Students should be aware that the registration process can take several days. French universities are not as “service-oriented” as those in the United States and there are many students for few administrators. Ask questions of your ISEP host coordinator if you have trouble registering. Also, the add-drop process is very informal. You may want to observe several classes before making your final selection and to make sure that you will be able to follow the course and fulfill all course requirements. Remember to consult about any changes in your course selections with your host and home coordinators and advisors. Be sure to keep track of your courses, including course titles, hours, professors, and assignments for after your exchange. In all cases, you must verify all of your course information with your host coordinator to ensure that you have enrolled properly.

The actual number of hours in a class varies according to the department or subject and the amount of work expected of students outside of class. Courses usually meet 1-2 hours each week, meaning you will probably be taking a higher number of courses than at home. Most current ISEP students in France are taking 12-15 units per semester.


Student performance is assessed in two ways:

  • Short quizzes given throughout the semester allow instructors to check what their students have learned in each unit.
  • Examinations covering all of the material presented during the semester are given at the end of each semester, generally just before the February break and again in June, before the summer break.

Some U.S. universities will only award credit if you have an exam grade. Exams may be oral or written. The professor will grade you as he or she does a French student. Although the grading system in France goes from 0 to 20, the grades from 0 to 14 are generally used; 15 and 16 are relatively rare; 17 and 18, very rare; and no one is sure that 19 and 20 really exist. A 10 is about a U.S. “C”; in some courses, an 8 or 9 may be a “C” for a non-native speaker; 12 is good. Above that - bravo!

The atmosphere at a French university may seem low-pressure, but be on your guard. Even if a class does not require regular assignments, you must keep up with the reading and attend classes. Final examinations are given at the end of each course. ISEP students should check with professors to determine when the exam will be given as most professors do not provide a syllabus at the beginning of a course. As a foreign student, you may not be required to take the final exam. You may be able to substitute written assignments for the exam. Check with the professor to find out whether you are expected to take the exam in order to get a grade (in many instances, the exam might be the only evidence that you have taken the class) or whether you can substitute other assignments. Taking a final does not automatically entitle you to a grade since you must pass your exams to receive a grade. Also, make sure to register for the exam in addition to taking it.

If you make any special arrangements with a professor, obtain the agreement in writing signed by both you and the professor. Provide a copy of the agreement to both your home and host ISEP coordinators and keep a copy for yourself. Without an agreement in writing, it is expected that you will take all final exams. Credit transfer is not guaranteed if you fail to take exams or provide written proof of other arrangements.

Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information. 

Student Life


Students should be advised to contact their host ISEP coordinator prior to arrival on site to notify them of their itinerary. Students should plan on being at arriving at their host site during normal business hours (to be provided). Upon arrival in France, students can take the reliable public transportation to their destination. Once in Le Havre, students can buy a special discounted bus pass to get around. 

Language courses are offered to students during the first two weeks of their stay, included in your benefits, which will enable you to improve your French and adjust to the French-speaking educational system. An official five-day long orientation will also be held, during which the International Relations Office will assist ISEP participants in logistical matters such as registering for courses, helping with visa or health insurance questions and providing tutors for each student. The International Office is also available for questions before and after the orientation period.


Host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.

Experiential Opportunities
The Universite du Havre offers several extracurricular volunteer/service learning or internship options for students who want to deepen their French learning. These programs include placements in primary or secondary schools, sports, music, or the arts; for some programs, students have the option to complete a report and thesis defense and receive credit. These experiential learning opportunities can be tailored to the student’s needs and interests.
Housing and Meals

Students are housed in rooms in residence halls. A stipend is provided for meals, which students can use to purchase meal tickets in the cafeteria. Students who qualify for semester exchanges beginning in January are housed off-campus.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing, and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance (estimated, $90/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of January 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office