The "X-North America" International Exchange Program allows advanced undergraduate students (juniors and seniors) with excellent results in mathematics and other sciences to study for a semester or a year at École Polytechnique near Paris.
École Polytechnique (also called "X") is the most prestigious institution in Science and Engineering in France. It is located in Palaiseau (about 15 miles from Paris). Its students are admitted after two years of university-level preparation, and attend a four-year program that spans the advanced undergraduate and early graduate levels. The core curriculum covers a wide range of topics in mathematics and other sciences; students also take some language classes and practice sports.
All French students at Polytechnique are reserve officers, and much of their first year is occupied by "leadership training". At the same time, Polytechnique has a very well developed international program, and enrolls many foreign students.
Tuition for the International Exchange Program is free; however you have to pay for housing and living expenses.
What Will I Study There?
Participants in the International Exchange Program attend either Year 2 or Year 3 of the four-year "ingénieur" program. You can apply for either a semester or an entire year.
- Year 2 is divided into two semesters (end of August to end of January; end of January to mid-July). It offers a mix of upper-level undergraduate classes in mathematics, applied mathematics, computer science, economics, mechanics, physics, chemistry and biology. While French students are expected to take classes in six of these areas, this requirement does not apply to exchange students who only have to take a certain number of classes.
- Year 3 is divided into three terms (end of September to mid-December; beginning of January to beginning of April; beginning of April to mid-July). In each of the first two terms, students choose an area of concentration ("Majeure") in one of the eight scientific fields listed above; during the third term they work on an advanced research project.
In addition to the scientific classes, you will be taking French classes; optionally you can take classes in humanities and social sciences, and/or study a second foreign language. You will also be encouraged to take advantage of the campus's extensive athletic facilities by taking part in sports activities.
More information on the courses offered can be found here.
You can also download the English version of the general information brochure for the four-year program (2009-10 version) and the course catalog (2009 version). No major changes should occur for 2010/2011. Any modifications will be definitely confirmed by July 2010.
What Are the Prerequisites?
Since all classes are taught in French, you should already have a good knowledge of the language (at least three semesters of college French). You will be taking additional French language classes during your stay at Polytechnique.
Students at École Polytechnique have a strong background in mathematics and physics. Before they are admitted, they have already taken classes in Analysis (18.100B) and Algebra (18.700, and parts of 18.703). At the end of Year 1, they take classes in Integration, Probability theory, and Stochastics. So you should have taken at least 18.100B and 18.700 (or equivalent) in order to follow the Year 2 math classes. 18.103, 18.703, 18.440 may also be helpful to various extents. Also expect serious prerequisites for the physics classes if you plan on taking some; classes in the other fields should be more easily accessible.
How Do I Apply?
The application deadline for September 2010 or January 2011 admissions is February 15, 2010. Late applications for admission in January 2011 are still accepted until October 31, 2010. Applications are due in the MIT-France office a week earlier.
On the Polytechnique side, you must fill the application form and provide all the necessary documents. The application materials can be found here. See the application form for the complete list of required documents. These include a resume, official transcripts, a description of the classes taken at MIT, a letter of statement in French or in English, a certificate from a French teacher confirming your oral and written level of the French Language, letters of recommendations from two professors, and a "learning proposal/agreement" (a list of classes you plan to take at Polytechnique, which must be approved by MIT).
The Study Abroad Office keeps track of each student studying away from the Institute - both abroad and in the U.S. Once you decide to apply to École Polytechnique, please make an appointment to see Malgorzata Hedderick, Assistant Dean for Study Abroad, in the Study Abroad Office (26-167). You will need to also obtain a Worksheet for Planning Study Abroad from the Study Abroad Office and return the completed form to the Office, by May 1 (for fall term or whole academic year), or by December 1 (for spring term). The Worksheet will allow you to receive approvals from your faculty advisor, transfer credit examiners in departments from which you wish to receive transfer credit, and from various administrative offices.
Discuss your plans to study at École Polytechnique with your Faculty Advisor as soon as you decide to apply. Your advisor should sign your worksheet to indicate that s/he is aware of your plan and s/he believes that your program of study will fit into your four- year program at MIT. You also need to determine from which departments at MIT you will be requesting credit. Decide which classes you will be taking during your time away and speak to the corresponding department at MIT about transfer credit. See a list of faculty Transfer Credit Examiners. Ask each faculty member reviewing your request for credit to sign your worksheet to document that you have discussed your plans with him or her.
In addition, please meet with April Julich Perez at the MIT-France Office. She will be able to advise you regarding the application to École Polytechnique and answer questions related to studies and student life at Polytechnique.
Finally, you also are required to meet with representatives in the Financial Aid Office, Loan Office, Student Accounts Office, and Health Insurance Office and to obtain their signatures on your Worksheet for Planning Study Abroad. For more details please visit the Study Abroad Office website.
Where Can I Find More Information?
- The MIT-France Program
- MIT's Study Abroad Office
- École Polytechnique
- École Polytechnique's International Exchange Program
- The "X-North America" program brochure
- The 2009-10 course catalog
- The application materials
For questions, feel free to contact:
Professor Haynes Miller,
Professor Paul Seidel,