Bonjour Bordeaux: NAU establishes bidirectional dual degree programs with France


Beginning fall 2021, Northern Arizona University and the University of Bordeaux in France (UBx) will participate in a bidirectional dual degree program, allowing undergraduate students majoring in biology and geology to study at each institution, earning degrees from both.

Exploring France
Students explore France

The bidirectional nature of this dual degree program means that students from UBx will attend NAU and earn a BS in either biology or geology, and NAU students will study in France. They have two track options for earning a UBx degree: an English track, where students spend their third year abroad taking biology coursework in English, and a French track, for students in the Interdisciplinary Global Programs (IGP) who will spend their fourth year abroad, taking biology courses in French and completing a language immersion fieldwork experience. Because the geology coursework and fieldwork at UBx is offered in French, the geology track is only available to IGP students. These students also earn a third degree from NAU—a bachelor of arts in modern languages, with an emphasis in French.

“Graduating with degrees from both U.S. and European institutions opens vast opportunities for students to internationalize their career paths, including opportunities for graduate school, research, internship and employment in either the U.S. or Europe, or both,” said Melissa Armstrong, director of Interdisciplinary Global Programs.

The academic departments have been working with the Center for International Education (CIE) and UBx faculty and staff to articulate curricula and design course maps for students in both directions.

“I was drawn to the UBx dual degree program because I hope to expand my options of where I am able to live and work in the future. Having a French degree will greatly help me with this goal,” said Cayley Payne, an IGP student studying biology and French.

Student in the lab
In the lab

NAU’s commitment to student exchange with international partners, which contributed to NAU ranking No. 6 in the U.S. for long-term study abroad, played a role in supporting the establishment of this international dual degree program. NAU’s formal partnership with UBx began in 2012 with an exchange agreement to support IGP students, building off the existing faculty research connections between NAU professors Tom Whitham and Stephen Shuster with UBx professor Richard Michalet.

“Some of IGP’s most successful international partnerships begin from the seed of faculty collaborations, given IGP’s focus on student fieldwork abroad,” Armstrong said. “These dual degree tracks with UBx are building upon a decade of faculty research collaboration, seven years of student exchange and two years of careful work on course articulations and program design.”

Students enrolled in this program will pay standard NAU tuition, and have the added career development benefit of a fieldwork experience in the spring of their year abroad.

“These are truly global opportunities built on the dedication and big thinking of NAU faculty and staff,” said Daniel Palm, associate vice president for global affairs. “These programs will provide students with educational experiences that will broaden their career opportunities and prepare them to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”