About Us

About Us

Founded in Paris in 1960 by Stetson Holmes, late Vice President of the American University in Beirut, the Academic Year Abroad Paris program (L’Année Universitaire à Paris) is based upon a legal agreement with the Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and operates as an association à but non-lucratif selon la loi de 1901. Among the first directors of AYA were Marcel Moraud, who later formed CUPA, and Hollins Abroad founder Stuart H.L. Degginger, who reestablished AYA in asociation with the Academic Year Abroad Foundation. The AYA Madrid program was initiated in 1967 and currently maintains a formal agreement in Madrid with the Universidad Carlos III. AYA Siena, established in 1984, centers upon study at the Università degli Studi.

Since its beginnings, AYA has been governed by university professors and directed by an advisory board of academics who have always strived to maintain the highest standards. Academic Year Abroad is a member of NAFSA, Association of International Educators. AYA enters into consortial agreements with a great number of American universities and colleges, especially Harvard, Bard, and Ripon, whose students study under AYA auspices. Since its founding, approximately 4,500 students have studied at fine universities in Europe with AYA.

The AYA Advisory Board:

AYA students in the 1970s
  • A.M. Cinquemani, PhD
    Professor Emeritus, State University of NY & Director, AYA
  • Paule Schnersohn, DESS
    Director, AYA Paris
  • Carrie Szczerbik, MA
    Director, AYA Madrid
  • Maria Viñas Garcia, Lda. en CCII
    Director, AYA Siena
  • Jonathan Becker, PhD
    Dean of International Studies, Bard College
  • Odile Chilton, PhD
    Professor of French, Bard College
  • Melanie Nicholson, PhD
    Professor of Spanish, Bard College
  • Marina Van Zuylen, PhD
    Professor of French, Bard College
  • Lourdes Maria Alvarez, PhD
    Professor, Catholic University
  • Lazare Bitoun, Doctorat
    Professeur des Universités, Université de Paris VIII
  • Linda M. Clemente, PhD
    Prof. of Romance & Classical Languages, Ripon College
  • Michelle Fuerch, PhD
    Prof. of Romance & Classical Languages, Ripon College
  • Marino D’Orazio, LLD, PhD
    Legal Counsel
  • Giancarlo Traverso, PhD
    Professor Emeritus, State University of New York

Academic Year Abroad stands for genuine study. AYA students take university courses with regular university professors at the Universidad Carlos III, the Universidad Autónoma, and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, the Université de Paris-Sorbonne and Institut Catholique in Paris, or the Università degli Studi or the Università per Stranieri in Siena. In its survey of European higher education [No 1745: April 16, 1998] the Nouvel Observateur ranks Paris IV, at which AYA students study, as first in its class. So too, El Pais identifies Carlos III as a brilliant new university (May 1997). The Università degli Studi di Siena is one of the most respected of Italian universities.

AYA offers students the options of AYA-sponsored or independent housing. AYA tuition, housing, and cultural activities fees are moderate.

AYA students on the Rue Mouffetard in Paris in the 1970s

AYA Directors in Madrid, Paris, and Siena provide orientation, arrange for help with housing, arrange for language-reinforcement and specialized courses, act on each student’s behalf at the university, see to the transmission of grades to the home institution. These are Directors who have years of experience. Though direct registration will give you independence as a student, you can depend on your Director for support. One of our students appreciatively characterized this as “protected freedom.”

AYA programs are kept small: never more than 25 to 30 students. You will not be lost in the crowd. The AYA Director can devote a good deal of attention to you.

To put it simply, for nearly a half-century, Academic Year Abroad has stood for excellence. You will always remember your year (or semester) of study overseas. Make the most of it! Why settle for less than the genuine university experience?