Switzerland - Geneva - Off-Campus Study Group Skip Navigation

Geneva Study Group

Director Spring 2019: Ed Fogarty, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Director, International Relations Program

History of the Geneva Study Group

In 1979, the Geneva Study Group was offered to students in all concentrations to engage in advanced study of international and European governmental organizations; European politics, cultural and history; and international and pan-European law and courts. It was directed by Professor Roland Blum.


Colgate University’s Geneva Study Group (GSG) is a spring semester program in Geneva, Switzerland that allows a small group of students, primarily concentrators in Political Science, International Relations, PCON, and History to explore international and European governmental and nongovernmental organizations; European politics, culture, history, and thought; and international and pan-European law and courts.

Students take an intensive French course; complete two semester-long courses and a thirteen-week part-time internship in an international governmental or nongovernmental organization (IGO or INGO) while residing in Geneva; and travel in two group field trips in western and central Europe. The intensive French course begins in January and coursework and internships in Geneva begin in mid-February and end in early/mid-June.

Students are housed in single rooms at the Cité Universitaire, a residence hall connected with the University of Geneva.

Courses taken on this study group will satisfy the Global Engagements requirement.
Student group shot in the desert


FREN 122Y, FREN 200, FREN 300

To help students navigate life, work, and culture in French-speaking Geneva, they will take an intensive French course, either in the Swiss city of Lausanne or in Geneva itself. Students will be enrolled in, and receive Colgate credit for, a course in keeping with their level of competence in French. (Note for IR concentrators: Students pursuing French as their foreign language must complete both 300-level courses on Colgate campus.

POSC 357Y: International Institutions (Prof. Fogarty)

In this course, students will explore the theoretical literature on international governmental and nongovernmental organizations before taking advantage of being in Geneva and group trips to visit some of the world’s premier IGOs and INGOs including, but not limited to, the World Trade Organization, Doctors without Borders, and various United Nations agencies. This course will offer students the theoretical and conceptual tools to understand these institutions’ work and the international political constraints they face.

Elective Course

All students will take an elective course at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, a world-renowned academic institution in Geneva. Students will be able to choose among three or four courses, all fitting the general study group theme (broadly, international organization).

Internship Course

In mid-February, students will be placed in semester-long part-time internships in international governmental and nongovernmental organizations resident in Geneva. These internships, to the degree possible, will be chosen based on each student’s interests and will (likely) be arranged in advance of their arriving in Geneva. Work in these organizations complements coursework in POSC 357 and group travel undertaken during the semester.

Discussion of the internship experience and short writing assignments will be required for completion of this course. Political Science and IR concentrators will receive elective credit for this course.

Field Trips

Group photo by the sea

Two group trips will complement and build upon the coursework and internships undertaken in Geneva. The first will involve visits to Strasbourg, Luxembourg, The Hague, Brussels, and Paris to visit major international and European institutions such as the European Parliament, the International Criminal Court, and NATO. The second trip will be to central Europe, with visits to Berlin, Krakow and Auschwitz, Vienna, and perhaps Budapest, emphasizing various culturally significant sites as well as international institutions like OPEC and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

While in residence in Geneva, an integral part of the curriculum will be group visits to international organizations in and around the city.

Geneva sits in the very heart of Europe, and thus students will also have an excellent opportunity for independent travel. To be clear, independent travel is “elective” and must always defer to formal study group activities (i.e., classes, internships, and Geneva site visits).

After Geneva

The Geneva Study Group will end in June 2019, but there will be opportunities for students to reconnect with Geneva after they complete their senior year at Colgate. Some interested study group alums might have the opportunity to return to their internship organization for a full-time job. Others can follow in the footsteps of previous study group participants who returned to the Graduate Institute for a Master’s Degree.

 We are exploring the possibility of a joint BA/MA degree with the Graduate Institute, wherein students take courses on the study group, and then back at Colgate, that would count toward the first year of a Master’s Degree—with students returning to the Graduate Institute after Colgate graduation for one more of year of study to complete the MA program. Contact Prof. Fogarty for additional detail.

Library Facilities

Students will have access and borrowing privileges at the libraries of the Graduate Institute and other universities in Geneva. Access can also be arranged to the various libraries housed in Geneva’s international organizations, and the United Nations Library collection containing nearly two million volumes.
Students with their baggage posing by a statue

Selection Criteria and Prerequisites

It is expected that most applicants will be sophomores in the fall of 2017. Juniors are also invited to apply—particularly those interested in the BA/MA program opportunity—but the group’s schedule will likely preclude participation in graduation ceremonies in May 2019. First-year students will also be considered, but only under exceptional circumstances are they likely to be selected. Students need not be Political Science or International Relations concentrators.

Non-Colgate students must be able to demonstrate competence in the prerequisite courses through courses taken at another institution that are specifically approved by the director of the Geneva Study Group. As well, they must have achieved a grade point average of at least 3.3 and must enroll as visiting students at Colgate while abroad with the Geneva Study Group.

NB: Acceptance to the study group is provisional. Students must remain in good academic and disciplinary standing at Colgate prior to departure for Geneva.

Pre-departure required courses

Students accepted to the study group must complete POSC 232 and, at minimum, FREN 121 before the start of the study group. Courses in modern European politics and history are highly recommended, and ECON 151 or 249 might also prove useful.

All accepted students will also be required to enroll in a half-credit internship preparation course during the semester prior to departure (fall 2018). This course will impart skills and knowledge of greatest interest to potential Geneva-based internship organizations, including mastery of standard word processing and accounting programs (i.e., MS Word and Excel), formal writing, and familiarity with “international Geneva.”


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see the Student Cost Estimate Sheet.

Calendar and Deadlines

All students interested in applying should plan on attending one of the informational sessions.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs’ website and are submitted online. After submitting your application, please be sure to sign up in the Political Science department office (Persson 126) for an interview time. Prof. Fogarty will set the interview schedule, and will notify applicants of selection decisions in late December 2017.

Passports and Visas

You must confirm that your passport is valid through December 2019. All students participating on the Geneva Study Group will be required to obtain a Swiss student visa. With participation on this study group comes the responsibility of understanding and complying with Swiss government visa requirements. If you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport it is imperative that you contact an adviser in Off-Campus Study/International Programs, 101 McGregory, and International Student Services, 103C Lathrop Hall, to learn as much as you can about the regulations. For some students there are significant visa requirements to be met that take time, advance planning, and incur extra costs.
Students will need to start working on their visas in summer 2018.

Program Dates

Anticipated Geneva Study Group program dates: early January to mid-June, 2019

Informational Sessions

  • Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 6 p.m.
All informational sessions will be held in 101 McGregory Hall (Center for International Programs)
Student group photo in white jackets

More Information

For more information, contact Prof. Fogerty, 137 Persson Hall 315-228-7297 or efogarty@colgate.edu

Helpful Links

General Information