History of AUP

At Home in the World

For over 60 years our mission has been to be an integral part of the life-changing steps students take to achieve their goals. Across cultures and disciplines, The American University of Paris combines globally oriented experiences with American educational values to provide rich practical contexts that push students out of their comfort zone, past accepted knowledge and allow them to make their mark in the world. We believe that only when you’re at home in the world will you be able to forge your place in it.

When Lloyd DeLamater, a 40-year-old former US State Department official, founded the American College in Paris in 1962, his vision was far ahead of its time. Whether by virtue of the decidedly international dimension of his life – born in New York, he was a war veteran, held degrees from multiple international institutions, married a French woman, and lived all across Europe in his roles as a US Foreign Service and NATO officer – or his extensive observations of postwar Europe, DeLamater was quick to grasp the need to counter a vision of the world as being made up of disparate, isolated countries and peoples. He instead sought to “bridge the gap of narrow nationalisms,” and create an institution that would connect those ready to look beyond the borders of their home countries.

The AUP project began as a series of rented rooms in the basement of the American Church of Paris with an entering class of 100 students, most of whom were Americans living across Europe. Today, we are the premiere American style institution of higher education in Europe and the UK.

While the courses offered in the early days were similar to those offered at many other US universities, the American College in Paris, or ACP as it was then known, was moved by a very different spirit and offered the unique experience of the city of Paris. Describing this first class of students, DeLamater praised not only students’ academic performance, but also their mastery of foreign language, and ability to adapt to French culture. At a time when America was busy defining “American identity,” DeLamater was promoting a learning model allowing students to forge their own identities and communities, while engaging with an international and cosmopolitan city. With the incorporation of the American College in Paris in 1962, DeLamater succeeded in establishing a place where students could push past the borders of their home countries and become engaged citizens of an increasingly interdependent world.

AUP in the 1960s.

Students relaxing together, 1964.

Students relaxing together, 1964

Students study in the library, 1965.

Students study in the library, 1965.

ACP students in their Parisian apartment, 1976.

ACP students in their Parisian apartment, 1976

Orientation at ACP, 1985.

Orientation at ACP, 1985

Professor Marc Montheard and students, 1992.

Professor Marc Montheard and students, 1992

Students in the AUP Library shop, 2000.

Students in the AUP Library shop, 2000

AUP play sports on Invalides, 2000.

AUP students use Invalides to play sports, 2000

New student check-in, 2010s.

New student check-in, 2010s

Students enjoy the old AMEX Cafe, 2010s.

Students enjoy the old AMEX Cafe, 2010s

Students work in Grenelle, 2010s.

Students work in Grenelle, 2010s.

Students in the science lab 2010s.

Students in the science lab 2010s

Students play Monopoly outside Combes, 2010s.

Students play Monopoly outside Combes, 2010s.

The History of Graduate Programs

In 2002, the University made a commitment to developing Graduate Studies as the major means for the University to attain “international visibility and distinction in international education” as then President Gerry Della Paolera affirmed. 

In 2005, The American University of Paris expanded to begin offering Master’s programs across a variety of fields and specializations, always with a global outlook: the MA in International Affairs, Conflict Resolution and International Solidarity, a joint master’s with the Institut Catholique de Paris, was the first graduate program offered, which has since evolved into our very own MA in International Affairs, Conflict Resolution and Civil Society Development. As the University has evolved, some of our initial programs, of course, no longer exist. 

Today, the University offers seven graduate programs, hosts over 150 graduate students and has obtained the French RNCP accreditation for our MA in Global Communications degree and Strategic Brand Management degrees. The MA in Global Communications, founded in 2006, is one of our longest standing programs founded at a time when no other university was looking at communications from a non-Western and global perspective, an approach that is still highly relevant today. Other unique, pioneering programs include the Masters of Science in Human Rights and Data Science, which positions students to work at the crossroads of the two disciplines, which have both become essential in today’s society.

Learn more about each of our graduate programs :  

Our Research Centers

The Center for Writers & Translators (CWT) 
The Center for Writers & Translators has as its mission the promotion of literary activity, especially where that relates to the practice of translation – translation taken in its broadest sense. The Center galvanizes the already active literary culture at AUP: through talks and lectures with international guests; through sponsorship of literary events across campus; and through its publication of the Cahiers Series

Joy and Edward Frieman Environmental Science Center 
Through this center, faculty members conduct research in the fields of evolutionary biology, animal behavior, marine biodiversity and climate change and collaborate on interdisciplinary projects using state-of-the-art climate chambers. The Center offers opportunities for students to engage in mentored undergraduate research, leading to peer-reviewed publications

The Center for Critical Democracy Studies 
The Center for Critical Democracy Studies (CCDS) promotes the practice, study and life of democracy both within and beyond the University. The Center builds on AUP’s mission to educate global citizens by exploring fundamental and practical questions of emancipatory political life through talks, conferences and lectures with international guests; sponsorship of courses and events across campus; and its publication of The Tocqueville Review/La Revue Tocqueville.

The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention  
This center promotes innovative research, curricula and pedagogies leading to the deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of genocide and mass violence.

The Center for Media, Communication and Global Change 
The Center for Media, Communication, and Global Change hosts and supports talks, events, conferences, and interdisciplinary research. It supports pedagogical initiatives, curricular innovation, and student-faculty collaboration. It promotes creative work at the intersection of art, media technologies, and research. And it fosters dialogue and collaboration between researchers, and social justice advocates. 

In 2019 we opened the Quai d'Orsay Learning Commons.

The Atrium in the Learning Commons

With its elegant facade, well-appointed grands salons and private courtyard, the Combes Student Life Center is a vibrant hub of student activity.

Combes during summer class

Built 30 years ago in a quiet, verdant area the Grenelle Teaching and Mentoring Center has seen generations of AUP staff and students.

A tour of Grenelle

The new Monttessuy Center for the Arts features AUP's first auditorium.

The new auditorium in the Monttessuy Center for the Arts

The modern campus is student-centered.

Our modern campus puts students first.

A Consolidated Campus

Our 7th arrondissement location, a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, has been our home since AUP’s founding. In the past few years, the campus has undergone a significant transformation, driven by our commitment place a student-centered experience at the core of everything we do. This strategic shift toward fostering active learning, innovative teaching methods, and greater interaction across a diverse student body led to a campus redesign focused on consolidation and coherence.

The long road from that pivotal moment included the sale of the old Bosquet building, the renovation of four existing properties and the purchase of a new flagship building on the quai d’Orsay. All the while, we’ve been guided by our core aims: that of meeting our students’ needs by providing environments that foster the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural – not to mention, transformational – experiences for which the University is renowned.

In 2018, another opportunity took this redevelopment strategy one step further. At that time, we were faced with a choice to either sell the Library’s former location on the rue de Monttessuy or redevelop it. Given the unprecedented growth of the majors in our Department of Art History and Fine Arts – applications are up 270% in five years – we saw an opportunity to repurpose the space into something truly special. Today, the Monttessuy Center for the Arts is a hub for artistic life on campus, bringing students and faculty together through creative pursuits in a state-of-the-art teaching facility – complete with AUP’s first theater.