Studying in France
When applying to study in France you'll face the same entry and tuition requirements as French students. You'll also need to be able to speak some French, even for courses taught in English.
The French higher education system consists of:
- public universities;
- schools of engineering;
- schools of management;
- schools of art;
- schools of architecture;
- Grandes Ecoles – highly prestigious public or private specialised schools;
- other specialised schools – including five Catholic universities and a range of specialist schools offering vocational courses in areas such as communications, tourism and health.
France also has 20 ComUE (communautés d’universités et établissements), which are clusters of universities, grandes écoles and research laboratories that have grouped together to pool their resources.
Degrees awarded reflect a common European framework:
- Licence – equivalent to a first degree, usually takes three years of study.
- Master – equivalent to a masters degree, usually takes two years of further study.
- Doctorat – a PhD, usually takes three further years of study.
For more information, see Campus France.
What courses can you study?
- France's universities are publicly funded and offer courses in all disciplines.
- The system of grandes écoles includes schools of engineering and business, écoles normales supérieures (ENS), institutes of political studies (IEP) and schools of veterinary science. Many grandes écoles programmes are now taught in English.
- Campus France has an online database of courses offered at licence, masters and doctorate level. You can search by various criteria, including courses taught in English.
- The Top Universities website provides a list of the top universities in France.
How do you apply for postgraduate study?
France's universities and other public higher educational institutions do not distinguish between home and international students. You will be subject to the same entry and tuition requirements and receive the same degrees as French students.
EU and EEA nationals can apply directly to the institution(s) they're interested in. There is no officially recognised equivalence between French and foreign degrees and individual institutions set their own admissions criteria. Contact individual institutions for details.
It's important to be able to speak French, even for courses taught in English.
Fees and scholarships
The French government provides much of the finance for public higher education. Therefore, international students pay the same tuition fees as French students at universities and public institutions.
- The annual tuition rates charged by public educational institutions are set in law. They can change annually but are in the region of: €184 for licence programmes; €256 for masters programmes; €391 for doctorate-level programmes; and €610 for programmes leading to a diplôme d’ingénieur. The true cost is much higher, but the difference is paid by the French government.
- Private institutions are more expensive. Business and management schools, for example, generally charge between €3,000 and €10,000 annually.
- Students may also have to pay additional fees for administrative services or special programmes.
- The monthly student budget is typically between €1,050 and €1,200 in Paris, €700 to €900 in some of the major cities such as Lyon, Nice and Bordeaux, and at least €600 in other parts of France. The cost of living may be up to twice as much in Paris as in other parts of France.
- CampusFrance has a searchable database of grants (bourses) available to fund undergraduate and postgraduate study.
- Visit the websites of individual institutions to find out what scholarships are available.
Are there any exchange programmes?
UK students on both undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in spending time studying in France through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas.
Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from France is directly comparable to the UK equivalent.
Do you need a visa to study in France?
European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals do not need a visa or residence permit to study in France.
If you're a non-EU national, contact the French embassy in the country where you are currently living about how to obtain a visa. If you're living in the UK visit the French Embassy website.
AGCAS editors, June 2017