Widely perceived as a country of great artistic, scientific and cultural significance, studying in France is an attractive option for students looking to enhance their employability
A 2017 study conducted by Campus France and Kantar Sofres revealed that 92% of international students would recommend France as a study abroad destination, with 64% of those polled choosing it as a desirable choice ahead of popular destinations such as Germany, the US and the UK.
Throughout history, the country has nurtured talent in a range of fields from the likes of Marie Curie and Louis Pasteur in medicine to renowned fashion icons Dior, Louboutin and Givenchy.
There's also plenty to explore in your downtime. You'll have world-famous art galleries and landmarks, as well as top restaurants and bakeries, right on your doorstep.
France is home to more than 3,500 public and private higher education institutions. These include:
- Universities - catering to nearly 75% of international students, these publically-funded institutions offer courses in all areas, from science and sport to humanities and medicine.
- Specialist institutions - including schools of business and management, engineering, architecture and arts and applied arts.
- Grandes Écoles - these prestigious institutions are typically smaller than universities and nurture the talents of only the brightest students. They're highly selective, with students only usually being accepted after completing a two-year preparation course and passing an entrance exam.
A total of 39 French institutions appear in the QS World University Rankings 2018, of which five make the top 200. École Normale Supérieure Paris leads the way in 43rd position, followed by Ecole Polytechnique (59), Universitié Pierre et Marie Curie (131), École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (157) and CentraleSupélec (177).
Business schools in France also perform particularly well in global MBA rankings. INSEAD, which has campuses in France and Singapore, is currently second in the Financial Times' Global MBA Rankings 2018, while HEC Paris appears just outside the top 20 in 21st position.
Study at this urban, independent, international university and gain a strong academic foundation that enables you to thrive in any environment.
Emlyon's mission is to educate entrepreneurs and equip students with the skills, values and attitudes needed to succeed.
From MBAs to Doctoral degrees, ISM faculty, students, and alumni come together from the four corners of the globe to facilitate knowledge sharing, learning, and networking.
Ranked 34th in the international and general ranking and 9th in the French ranking of the prestigious Financial Times Masters in Management 2015, NEOMA Business holds international triple accreditations in EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA.
If you're looking for a taster of life in France, you might consider completing a student exchange to supplement your studies in your home country.
Students currently attending a UK university who would like the opportunity to study in France can do so through Erasmus+, the European Union's (EU) education, training and youth support programme. The scheme offers training, work shadowing and voluntary placements lasting from two to 12 months.
Funding is available for the scheme, but applications are made through organisations and institutions rather than individuals. Speak to your university if you'd like to participate to learn more about what financial support is available to you.
As of December 2017, the UK remains committed to Erasmus+ following the country's decision to leave the European Union. This information will be updated if changes occur.
Alternatively, you could enrol on a short programme to learn the language while immersing yourself in the culture in preparation for your long-term studies. Search available opportunities at Campus France - Programmes.
Degree courses in France
The French academic year runs from September or October, depending on institution, to the end of June, and is comprised of two semesters, a two-week break over the Christmas period and a summer holiday period of at least two months.
Undergraduate degrees in France, known as Licence degrees, take three years to complete and correspond to UK Bachelors degrees. They're available in a range of topics, from global communications and international economics to art history and sociology.
Unless you hold a French Baccalaureate qualification, you'll need to get in touch with your chosen institution for details on entry requirements and what you'll need to do to apply.
Use the Campus France search feature to browse all available degree courses taught in English.
Postgraduate degrees in France are typically divided into four semesters across two academic years. Their longer length means French Masters courses can be less intensive than their UK counterparts.
Courses are delivered through workshops, discussions and independent project work, leading up to the submission of a final extended research project or dissertation.
Other types of Masters degrees offered in France are Specialised Masters and Masters of Business Administration (MBA). These prestigious courses will have varying structures, stricter entry requirements and are more heavily focused on advanced professional training.
Use the Campus France Masters catalogue to search Masters programmes.
Completing a PhD in France takes around three to four years, although some courses can take up to six. You'll complete and submit a thesis under the supervision of a thesis director, who you need to approach and gain the approval of before the course begins.
Once written, you'll have to give a public oral presentation of your thesis, before it's assessed by two rapporteurs.
By studying a PhD in France you'll join a strong network of more than 250 Doctoral schools, which provide planning and development support systems to help you into the next stage of your career. As part of your studies you'll receive an additional 150 hours of training in areas such as business creation, research and communication.
You need a Masters or equivalent qualification, or to be studying one at the time of application, to progress onto a PhD. To apply, submit a research proposal to the Doctoral school of your choice, or check university websites for advertised project assistant posts.
The deadline for PhD applications at public universities nationwide is 31 January each year. Grandes Écoles institutions may set their own application windows.
You won't need to prove your proficiency in French to study a PhD in France, as many courses are offered in English.
Use the Campus France directory of Doctoral schools to search Doctoral programmes.
At public universities, course fees are the same for international students as they are for French students. Average tuition fees for 2018 are as follows:
- €190 per year for Bachelors/Licence degrees
- €260 per year for Masters degrees
- €396 per year for PhD degrees.
Tuition fees at private universities, Grandes Écoles and on courses for specific subjects, such as engineering and medicine, are higher than this. Grandes Écoles tend to set their own fees, so contact them directly for specific figures.
Business and MBA students are also subject to much higher fees. For instance, the HEC Paris MBA costs €66,000 for the September 2018 and January 2019 intakes.
Funding to study in France
The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MEAE) offers grants to international students from a budget of around €100million, while the Ministry of Higher Education and Research provides needs-based finance to those who will have lived in France for at least five years by the end of their course.
The Eiffel scholarship, offered by MEAE, is designed to encourage students from foreign countries to study at Masters and PhD level, in priority areas such as engineering, science and law.
The scholarship is delivered in the form of a monthly stipend (€1,181 for Masters students and €1,400 for PhD students) and includes payment of airfare, medical insurance and a housing subsidy. Some grants also offer language training. Contact the international relations department at your French university, or the French embassy in your home country, to find out more.
You can use Campus France's scholarship directory to search other available funding at all levels of study.
Alternatively, many French universities offer their own scholarships and grants - approach yours directly to discover what you're entitled to.
As well as tuition, it's important to factor living costs into your study abroad budget. The French government currently estimates that students need €725-€825 per month as a minimum to get by, while costs in Paris are closer to €1,000. This figure allows for rent, food, transport, university supplies and leisure activities.
You'll likely also pay a small fee to join your students' union.
As an international student, you need to show you have these funds to support yourself, prior to any employment you take on once living in France.
How to apply
Your situation will determine how you submit your application. If you're an EU student you'll apply for a Masters directly to the institution, as French students do. Most universities set a deadline of the end of January in the year you want to start your course.
Be prepared to provide transcripts of your past qualifications and proof of your language proficiency where required, as well as a CV and cover letter. You may also be invited to an interview or be required to sit an entrance exam.
Grandes Écoles often set their own deadlines and admissions tests, so you'll need to contact them directly for more information. Due to their elite status and smaller class intakes, the process of applying to a Grandes Écoles is more competitive than a standard institution.
If you're applying for a Licence degree, you'll use the national online platform Parcoursup to enrol. Registrations typically close in March for courses starting in the autumn.
Find out more about how your circumstances can affect the application process at Campus France - How to apply to an institute of higher education?
There are hundreds of courses taught in English across France, which means learning French isn't an essential prerequisite of studying in the country.
However, if you're enrolling on a French-taught course and it isn't your first language, you'll need to demonstrate your proficiency by taking a recognised language test. The most commonly used tests in France are the DALF and DELF, offered by the Ministry of Education in France.
You can take these tests in the UK - use the CIEP search feature to find your nearest UK centre (Royaume-Uni).
Even if your course is taught in English, it's worth having at least a good grasp of French to help you navigate the country during your stay. Many institutions offer language courses you can take alongside your main studies, or you can learn online with platforms such as rfi Saviours.
You won't need a visa to study in France if you're from the EU. All you'll need is a valid passport or travel ID document and formal proof of acceptance onto your university course, as well as comprehensive health insurance and evidence of your ability to financially support yourself.
Non-EU students will need a visa to enter France. Short term 'Schengen' visas are available, as are visas for sitting entrance exams, but if you're studying in France for longer than six months you'll need to apply for a VLT-TS visa, which lasts for the duration of your course.
Visit France-Visas for more information.
Comparison to UK qualifications
Existing higher education qualifications gained in other European countries will usually be accepted by French institutions. Equally, undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications taken in France should be internationally recognised, including by employers in the UK.
For more information on having your qualifications officially evaluated and recognised, see ENIC-NARIC.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to work in France.