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Study in France: Education in France

The French university system is characterized by diversified training, interactive study environment and is focused on high quality education delivery. It welcomes around 2.5 million students every year, with approximately 12% of those from abroad. As an international student in France you are able to choose among a big variety of Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degrees.

Jun 1, 2017

The French university system is characterized by diversified training, interactive study environment and is focused on high quality education delivery. It welcomes around 2.5 million students every year, with approximately 12% of those from abroad. As an international student in France you are able to choose among a big variety of Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degrees. 

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Not only that, but an MBA in France is also considered an excellent higher education degree choice, since France is ranked the 7th largest economy in the world and 3rd largest in Europe. As a result, it is a great country to study business!

The French university system consists of more than 3,500 private and public institutions, with 72 universities and more than 200 business and engineering institutions. Universities in France award three types of degrees, in line with the European "Bologna" system based on European Credits (ECTS). The Bachelor’s degree is the Licence Professionnelle and lasts three years, the Master's degree lasts around five years depending on the discipline and the Doctorate degree awarded after at least eight years of study. 

The class format in the French university system consists of two types: The cours magistraux  which is the lectures and the travaux dirigés and travaux pratiques, which is the practical or laboratory work.

What makes the French university system more attractive to international students, is the possibility to study entirely in English! You can find hundreds of English-taught study programs in France. Don’t forget that you need to prove your English language proficiency through a TOEFL or IELTS examination. 


Studying in French

However, if you plan to study in French, no worries! You just need to prove your linguistic proficiency through the DELF, DALF, TCF or TEF examinations according to the European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). A B1 or B2 level is mostly needed for attending Master’s studies in France, but, depending on the program you might need to prove a competency of even C1 or C2 French level. 

You can also prepare during short programs in French offered by universities. In addition to that, keep in mind that the French university system is quite...FUN (acronym for the France Université Numérique). The Digital University France is the first French online course platform including more than 300 courses from 80 institutions.

The French university system grading system is structured as follows: 

  • A: 20-16 Excellent (Très Bien)
  • B: 14-16 Very Good (Bien)
  • C: 12-14 Good (Assez Bien)
  • D: 10-12 Satisfactory (Passable)
  • E: 10-12 Sufficient (Passable)
  • F: 0-8 Fail (Insufficant)

How long is a Bachelor’s degree?

It is difficult to choose among the internationally acclaimed French universities. Will you apply to Sorbonne, Université Panthéon-Assas, Sciences Po or  École Polytechnique? A Bachelor’s degree in France typically takes a minimum of three years to complete. In order to be eligible for Bachelor studies in France you need to have a highschool diploma or equivalent to baccalaureate from your country of origin. 

The academic year starts in September or October depending on the program and runs until June of the following year. Keep in mind that you need to apply for a Bachelor’s degree in France on time, no less than two months before the beginning of the academic year, in order to be fully prepared. Plus, you need to submit your language proficiency documents either in the French or English language and provide also detailed transcripts from your secondary high school education with all the subjects you have attended. 

In order to apply for a Bachelor's in France you need to complete the application form of your university of choice. You can find the application on each university’s website where you can download it and then submit it by providing all the documentation needed for your program to the enrollment office. 

Master Studies in the French University System 

As for the Master’s degree in France which lies between the license and the Phd, it lasts between two and six years, depending on the discipline and university. A Master’s degree from a French university is granted after the completion of Diplôme National de Master (DNM) or a similar graduate course from your own country. In France you can find standard Master’s degrees and also Master’s created from and for a particular university, especially in fields like architecture, business or engineering. 

There are four types of Master’s in France, all of them with their own subject, duration and entry requirements set by the universities: The Mastère Spécialisé (MS), the Mastère en Science (MSc), the Master of Art (MA) and the Master of Business Administration (MBA). 

Plenty of French universities like the university of Paris-Saclay, the university of Bordeaux, the Audencia and Toulouse Business Schools and the Aix-Marseille university offer a wide range of English-taught master courses.  


Doctorate Studies in France

A Doctorate degree or doctorate is awarded after the completion of a minimum three years of study in the French higher education system. The emphasis on French Doctorate degrees is on practical training, along with several different components like research courses, training sessions and the writing of a PhD dissertation. 

The academic fees for a Doctorate degree in France are the same for European and non-European students. However, the cost of the degree may vary, depending on whether you choose to study at a private or public university. Doctoral contracts (contrat doctoral) are job placements within a laboratory offered by mostly public universities to students pursuing Doctoral studies. The Doctorate degrees are organized by the so-called ‘’Doctoral Schools,’’ There are around 270 doctoral schools throughout the country attached to more than 2,000 research laboratories.

During this placement a student receives a salary and social security, but is also requested to pay taxes to the French state. The vast majority of PhD degrees in France is taught in French and you need to prove your linguistic competency at your application. The knowledge of at least basic French is advised, since some programs request writing your thesis abstract or proposal in the French language. So why not start learning French now? If you plan to study natural or technological sciences though don’t worry! The Doctorate degrees in these disciplines, unlike humanities and social sciences are taught in English. 

Study in France - Overview

Over 300,000 international students choose France as their study abroad destination every year. Click here to learn why.

Student Visas

Do you need a visa to enter France to study? Learn more about the student visa process, and what you need to enter the country, depending on your citizen status. You will also be required to bring certain documents with you to passport control at the airport, which we cover as well.

Housing & Living Costs

No matter where you study abroad, it’s important to create a budget in advance so that you’re prepared. Therefore, we’ve detailed average living and housing costs so that you can get a better idea of what you would be paying as a student in France.

Tuition Fees & Scholarships

Tuition fees for degree programs in France may vary. Both European and international students are expected to pay tuition fees in France. To cover the rest of the costs, there’s plenty of scholarship opportunities available.

Language & Culture

France is a country rich in history and culture. Find out more about what the country offers in terms of language, culture, and more!

Meet the English Requirements

Make sure you're ready to start studying abroad in France. French schools will normally want to see evidence of your English-language abilities. The TOEFL® test is the preferred test of many French schools, helping your application to stand out. Find out more about the TOEFL® test and how it can help you.

ETS, TOEFL and TOEFL iBT are registered trademarks of ETS.

Application Process

All countries have specific admissions requirements for students to gain acceptance into a university. Learn more about the ins and outs of admission to programs in France, and what you need to apply, depending on your citizenship.


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Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.