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2021-08-24 15:27:37

Public universities in France: admission requirements for foreign students

Public universities in France: admission requirements for foreign students

The French university system is characterized by a variety of universities, an interactive learning environment. French universities are focused on providing high-quality education: annually they receive about 2.5 million students, of which about 12% are foreigners. As an international student in France, you can choose from a large number of bachelor's, master's, doctoral courses. An MBA degree in France is also considered an excellent choice, the country ranks 7th in terms of the largest economy in the world, 3rd place – in Europe – this is a great country for studying business!


Higher educational system in France

The French university system consists of more than 3500 public, private institutions, 72 universities, more than 200 business, engineering institutions. Universities in France award three types of degrees according to the European Bologna system.

Bachelor's degree, License Professionnelle lasts three years, master's degree - about 2 years depending on the discipline, doctoral degree - at least 3 years of study.

Classes in French universities are of two types:

  • Cours magistraux (lectures)
  • Travaux dirigés, travaux pratiques (practical or laboratory work).

This makes the French university system more attractive for foreign students, giving the opportunity to study entirely in English. In France, there are hundreds of curricula taught in English. To enter these courses, you must confirm your English skills using the TOEFL exam, IELTS.

Top 10 public universities in France

  1. Sorbonne Université
  2. Université Paris
  3. Université Côte d’Azur
  4. Université de Lyon 
  5. Université Clermont Ferrand
  6. Université Mont Blanc
  7. Université de Strasbourg
  8. Université de Lorraine
  9. Université Clermont Auvergne
  10. Université de Lille.

Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Studies in France

To obtain a bachelor's degree in France, you must have a high school diploma (equivalent to baccalaureat).

Master's degree in the French university system lasts from two to six years, the duration depends on the discipline, the university. A master's degree from a French university is awarded upon completion of the Diplôme National de Master (DNM) or a similar course in your country. In France, you can find standard master's degrees as well as master's degrees created at and for a particular university, especially in areas such as architecture, business or engineering.

In France, there are four types of master's programs, each with its own subject, duration, entry requirements set by universities:

  • Mastère Spécialisé (MS)
  • Mastère en Science (MSc)
  • Master of Art (MA)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Many French universities, such as the University of Paris-Saclay, the University of Bordeaux, the business schools of Odencia, Toulouse, as well as the University of Aix-Marseille, offer a wide range of master's courses taught in English.

The doctoral degree is awarded after completing at least three years of study in the French higher education system. The emphasis in French doctoral degrees is on practical studies, as well as on research courses, sessions, writing a doctoral dissertation.

Academic fees for obtaining a doctoral degree in France are the same for European, non-European students, the cost varies depending on the university.

Doctoral studies (Contrat Doctor) is employment in a laboratory offered by public universities to students. Doctoral studies are organized by the so-called "doctoral schools", throughout the country there are about 270 doctoral schools with more than 2,000 research laboratories. The student receives a salary, social security, must pay taxes to the French state. The vast majority of doctoral programs are taught in French, it is necessary to confirm language competence when applying. Knowledge of at least basic French is recommended, some programs require writing abstracts in French. If you plan to study natural or technical sciences, you can choose a course in English.

The school year begins in September or October, depending on the program, and lasts until June of the following year.

Admission requirements at universities in France

Each university has its own requirements for applicants.  To apply for a bachelor's degree in France, you need to fill out an application form at the selected university, find the application on the university's website, send all the documentation necessary for your program to the admission department.

Collecting the necessary documents is a time-consuming step, be careful with the special requirements for documentation relating to students from Russia, you will need to translate the original documents into French.

The standard package of documents for applying to French universities includes:

  • Completed application form signed by the official authorities
  • Campus France Permit
  • Certificate of Civil Liability
  • Personal photos, copies of passports
  • Medical insurance
  • High school transcripts
  • Essay (on request of the university)
  • Proof of French/English language proficiency depending on the program
  • Confirmation of payment of the entrance fee.

For international students, additional documents may be required: copies of birth certificates of you, your parents, proof of financial support, French student visa. Each program can request additional documents, so make sure you have time to evaluate what is needed on your part.

Students from non-European countries must complete a preliminary admission or "Demande d'Admission Préalable – DAP" to apply to French educational institutions, as well as apply online through Campus France. Exceptions apply to DAP in the following cases:

  • Children of diplomats living in France
  • Students who have received a scholarship from the French government or a French organization
  • Candidates from a partner university in which there is a cooperation agreement between institutions, or potential students who speak French
  • Bachelor's degree in German, Italian or Spanish.

If you plan to study in French, you need to confirm your linguistic skills through the DELF, DALF, TCF, TEF exams in accordance with the European System of Competence for Foreign Language Proficiency (CEFR). International students require B1, B2 levels to enroll in most courses, but C1, C2 levels may be required to enroll in some courses.


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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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