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Gastronomic capital of France, center for business, innovation and sustainability, UNESCO World Heritage Site, France’s second largest city set on the confluence of two rivers – Lyon offers students the opportunity to call an authentic French city their home for a semester or year while studying French language, business, political science or a wide range of direct enroll courses.   

Lyon: Introduction | France

The second largest city in France, the Lyon metropolitan area is home to over 2 million people of which 500,000 live in Lyon proper. It is located in a dramatic setting surrounded by hills at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. Its location on a major trade route between Northern Europe and Italy made Lyon an important city of the Roman Empire. During the Renaissance, it was a center for humanist scholarship, printing, banking and the newly-established silk industry. Lyon continues to grow as an industrial, cultural and gastronomic center; it is known as the gastronomic capital of France, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today it is one of France’s most prominent centers for European business, innovation and sustainability. 

The Lyon program facilitates student exchange between five different French universities located in Lyon and students from any of the IE3 Global partner universities. The program allows students to enroll in either French language courses, in regular university courses in almost any field of study, taught entirely in French or in programs taught in English designed for international students from around the world studying in Lyon. Language proficiency required will vary by program option with a minimum first year college-level proficiency for semester options.  


  • Encompassing five different French universities with various specialty areas, the Lyon program offers a wide variety of disciplines and courses.
  • Participants have access to courses in unique fields, including sports sciences, encoding and cryptography (Lyon 1); urban studies, anthropology, women’s studies, cinema studies, literature, art history and musicology (Lyon 2); business, territorial planning and philosophy (Lyon 3); human rights, business, ethics and theology (Université Catholique); and political science, area studies and communication (Sciences Po-Lyon).
  • Participants may complete one of several one-year certificates offered by the various Lyon universities, while continuing to earn credits toward their home campus degree.
  • A large, busy metropolitan area, Lyon boasts everything from the Roman ruins to interesting postmodern architecture. A variety of languages and regional French accents can be heard on its cosmopolitan streets and squares.
  • Lyon is considered by many to be the culinary capital of France, with exquisite cuisine in every price range.
  • Lyon is in the beautiful southeastern region of France, in close proximity to Provence, the Côte-d’Azur (Mediterranean coast), Monaco, Marseilles, the Swiss, French and Italian Alps and just a few hours from Paris by train.

The Lyon program is ideal for students in a variety of majors who have a solid base in French language and are hoping to experience cultural immersion in the French context.  It is also great for business and political sciences students with limited background in French to pursue study of international business or politics and French language in a major European business center.

There are several ways to organize your studies in Lyon.  Generally, students choose just one of the five partner universities in Lyon as their academic home.  For the motivated student with a unique academic focus, there are opportunities to combine part-time studies at one institution with part-time studies at another institution. 

 For most programs, registration for classes will happen after you arrive in Lyon.  You will meet with the Lyon Resident Director and GTF in the Centre Oregon to discuss your academic schedule during the orientation period in order to discuss how the Lyon courses may fit in with requirements for your academic major or minor.  They will also advise you on the French educational system and provide tips to help you make the transition as easily as possible.

Students are supported by the experienced and personable staff of the “Centre Oregon” in Lyon: full-time Resident Director, Laurie Wilson and part-time Program Assistant, Rémédios Hernandez. They will help you to arrange housing, coordinate your orientation, introduce you to the city, give you guidance regarding the French educational system, and provide other logistical and personal support as needed. The Centre Oregon is located at Lyon 2 in a suite of offices shared by other Lyon 2 partner institutions.

laurie-wilsonAbout Resident Director, Laurie Wilson

Laurie grew up in Northern California and completed her BA in Language Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, during which time she spent her junior year abroad in Poitiers, France. She then moved to Oregon for graduate school and earned both a Master of Arts in French and a PhD in Romance Languages from the University of Oregon. During her doctoral program, Laurie spent a year working as a graduate assistant for the IE3 Global program in Lyon, France. She returned to Lyon to live after completing her PhD, and was hired to be the Resident Director of the IE3 Global Lyon program in 2003. She enjoys helping the IE3 Global students learn and thrive during their time in Lyon, and working with the French exchange students as they prepare for their time in Oregon universities.


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