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;
- engineering schools;
- schools of business and management;
- schools of art, both public and private or administered by chambers of commerce;
- schools of architecture;
- Grandes Ecoles – highly prestigious public or private specialised schools;
- other specialised schools offering vocational courses in areas such as communications, tourism and health.
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.
Students holding a European masters or equivalent may apply for admission to a doctorate-level programme in France.
What courses can you study?
- France's universities are publicly funded and offer courses in all disciplines.
- The system of Grandes Ecoles includes schools of engineering and business, Ecoles Normales Supérieures (ENS), institutes of political studies (IEP) and schools of veterinary science. Many Grandes Ecoles programmes are now taught in English.
- France has 20 PRES (pôles de recherche et d'enseignement supérieur), which are clusters of universities, specialised schools and research organisations.
- 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 generally around €183 for licence programmes; €254 for masters programmes; €388 for doctorate-level programmes; and €606 for engineering programmes. 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 around €1,000 in Paris and €800 in other parts of France. The cost of living may be twice as much in Paris as in other parts of France. For a breakdown of monthly costs see the Living in France booklet on the Campus France website.
- Entente Cordiale scholarships are open to British nationals who plan to study at postgraduate or doctorate level in France and French nationals who wish to do the same in Britain. British candidates should apply through the Cultural Department of the French Embassy in London. The closing date is usually March but you should check with the Embassy well in advance.
- The Campus France website has a searchable database of grants available to fund undergraduate and postgraduate study.
- Also 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, April 2014