In the fall of 2015, I began my masters degree at the American University of Paris in Global Communications. You can read more about the program here, and in my insights below! The Masters of Global Communications program is a 48-credit masters that can be completed swiftly (read: very swiftly) in a year or more comfortably in a year and a half (both calendar). To complete the program requirements, you must either write a thesis or do an internship. I am doing both, though my internship isn’t counted for credit.
I’ve currently completed 36 credits, including the following classes:
Global Communications *
Brands & Belief *
Media, Gender, and Globalization
Digital Media Writing
Food, Culture, and Communication
Museum as Medium
Identity Formation in a Transnational World *
Digital Storytelling & Visual Argumentation
Cultural Diversity & Globalization *
* indicates a core requirement
One of my favorite parts about AUP is the opportunity to travel with my classes, allowing the coursework to truly develop outside the classroom. With my classes, I’ve been to London (Brands & Belief, to visit branding and advertising agencies), India (Identity Formation, to attend the World Spirit Music Festival in Jodhpur, Rajasthan), Krakow, Poland (Museum as Medium, to visit Auschwitz and other Krakow city museums), and the Jura region of France (Food, Culture, and Communication, to learn how to taste terroir).
Why did you decide to go to an American school?
There were several factors going into my decision to complete a degree at an American (read: more expensive) school in Europe rather than a French university. One of the primary reasons was that should I return to the U.S. for work, a masters is more readily accepted from a U.S.-accredited institution (the exception to this is, of course, world-renowned schools like the Sorbonne and Sciences Po).
Another factor in my decision was method of instruction. When I studied abroad in Paris, I took a literature class at the Paris VII: Denis Diderot campus, taught by a very eccentric man who never really explained himself. I desperately asked my French classmates for help understanding the assignments, only to find out that I had understood correctly and there was no defined assignment. I knew that in order to get the most out of my program, I needed to have a more structured environment, but also felt more comfortable in a system more similar to my undergraduate program.
Finally, I had been hunting for graduate programs since I graduated college, and nothing I visited, interviewed with, or read about online seemed to be the right program for me. (Even though one of them was on the same street where Meryl Streep lives in New York!)
Well, I guess the finally should have been Paris. Paris wasn’t a bad reason, either.
What’s the difference between this program and another communications program in the U.S.?
The MAGC program at AUP, I found, focuses more on a globally-minded, liberal arts approach to communications. There are several more technical classes offered, but many more in-depth classes that explore communications from varied angles. Before I discovered AUP, I had mostly only found generic communications or new media programs, or communications geared at topics I wasn’t interested in making my expertise.
While AUP may not have the name-recognition of other universities, what it does have are really good professors who are interested and dedicated to the success of their students. A friend of mine told me that before I even applied, and she was right!
How did you decide where to live?
I was fortunately already equipped with a fair knowledge of Paris geography, and focused in on the 5th, 6th (both in and near the Latin Quarter), 10th (near the Canal), and 18th (Montmartre) arrondissements as those in which I wanted to live. My first round of housing searches I chose to do through the school’s housing database, which for the most part limited me to the 7th arrondissement (also known as Little America, and where the school is). I ended up finding a studio in the 10th, where I lived from September until February.
In the end of January, I decided to branch out and find housing independently, and ended up finding an apartment in the 5th arrondissement through an agency. There was an agency fee (about 300 €) and I needed to have a garant (thanks Corinne!!) to ensure I would pay my rent. I would definitely recommend that those who are able look independently in addition to using the school’s resources, as you have a much broader choice for location, and often are able to apply for the CAF (housing aid).
Are your classes in French or English?
English! Though I think my parents were more impressed before they figured that out.
How did you get a visa?
Visas are always a blast to get when staying in France for more than 90 days, but student ones are generally fairly easy to get as long as you can prove your enrollment and that you have the funds to not live on benefits (though students are eligible for the CAF). I went through Campus France, had my meeting at the consulate in DC where I turned over every piece of paper I had ever touched, and then the consulate mailed my passport back to me without my visa, meaning I had to return the next day. I fortunately have always gotten my visas returned to me within a week (three visas, all from the DC consulate), though I know this is not the case for many. Best to start way, way in advance!
Do you have advice for people interested in the program?
If you don’t already speak French, start learning now. You don’t need it for the classes, but it is imperative for daily life in Paris. Knowing French makes for a much easier experience, prevents you from being conned into strange apartment deals, and makes adjusting less stressful.
Research the professors and classes you are interested in in advance! Going in with a good knowledge of the program is a huge asset, especially during the looong orientation sessions where you are expected to learn a whole lot of other information.