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Education in France
More than 23% of France's national budget goes to education.
Renowned for its art and culture, France is one of the world's top tourist venues. It's also one of the leading destinations in Europe for foreign students: more than 220,000 choose France every year. France is a first-class center for scientific and technological innovation. It owes this standing to its research capacity and its many achievements in such fields as aerospace, transportation, electronics, telecommunications, chemistry, biotechnology, and health, successes confirmed by the number of French winners of the Nobel Prize and the Fields Medal.
In such public institutions as national universities, the State pays a very large part of each student’s study expenses (about €10 000 per year), keeping admission fees among the lowest in the world. What's more, no distinction is made in France between French and foreign students: the entrance requirements and admission fees are the same, and the degrees are identical. One of the most diverse, high-powered systems anywhere. The traditionally high quality of French degrees is rooted in a network of internationally renowned research centers and institutions of higher education, of which there are more than 3,000, including 87 universities, 240 engineering schools, and 230 business schools, plus 2,000 other establishments devoted to such fields as art, fashion, design, architecture, paramedical training, and so on.
The flexibility of French higher education allows you to design an academic itinerary that is perfectly suited to your goals and background. Thousands of possibilities exist in every field of knowledge.
Are you interested in a general degree program? In acquiring a professional skill? Maybe you're ready to specialize at the graduate level? Or to do research? Somewhere in France there's a program that meets your personal goals. More likely you'll find a multitude.
The quality of the French higher education system rests on the country's many and varied institutions, each of which has unique goals as well as unique structures and programs through which to pursue those goals. Naturally, each also has its own admission requirements.
The quality of the instruction offered is closely scrutinized by the French government. EduFrance's members all enjoy recognition for the excellence of their programs. They are proud ambassadors of French higher education.
International students who already have begun their higher education, and who may even hold a university degree, may obtain further training in France. Many opportunities exist for students to transfer into degree programs and receive credit for the post secondary work they have already done. In fact, that's one of the best ways to study in France. EduFrance's new program catalog includes all French programs that are well suited to international students.
The degrees
French higher education is based on a common architecture (LMD) – recognized at the European level – that counts the number of years of validated study following the baccalaureat (French secondary school matriculation examination for university entrance). Thus, baccalaureat + three years = Licence (180 ECTS), baccalaureat + five years = Master (300 ECTS), and baccalaureat + eight years = Doctorate (PhD). As long as he or she meets the entrance requirements, any foreign student in an institution of higher education in his or her home country may request admission to a comparable French institution.
Education system image
ECTS (European Credit System Transfer) credits: a European system for transferring academic credits within Europe. Credits, corresponding to an evaluation of the amount of work a course represents within the overall volume of work required for a successful academic year, are assigned to each course. 60 ECTS credits are awarded for a year, 180 for the licence level, and 300 for the master level.
France Universities
France's 87 public universities are spread throughout the country, from the Sorbonne in Paris (founded in 1179) to the high-tech campus of Nice-Sophia-Antipolis, and cover the entire range of academic disciplines: from the Sciences, including Mathematics, chemistry, Physics, and Biology to Technology, covering Computer Science, Engineering, Materials Science, and Electrical Engineering, through Literature, Languages, the Arts, the Social Sciences, Law, Economics, Management, Health, Sports, and more.
Every level is represented in the awarding of national diplomas, including the Licence -3 years-, Master’s degree -5 years-, and Doctorate (PhD) -8 years- Research activities are an integral part of the universities: 315 doctoral schools train 4,000 doctoral candidates in connection with more than 1,200 research laboratories (affiliated with both the universities and research organizations). French doctoral schools have always been very open to international students. The university system also stays in step with today's world, offering technological specializations and professional degrees, including:
University engineering diplomas
Which account for 50% of all engineering degrees in France.
Professional qualification training
Via the Institutes Universalities de Technologies (IUT), offering more than 25 specialties.
A complete professional curriculum
From the first year of the licence level up to the master's degree, through the Institutes. Universitaires Professionnalises (IUP), which offer 21 programs.
Studies of Medicine, Pharmacology, and Dentistry are connected with the universities in partnership with university hospitals, and have their own organization and courses of study. Admission to medical studies for foreign students. It is not possible to enter a medical school partway through. Foreign students who have not yet obtained a full degree in medicine in their country of origin must start with year one of the first cycle, regardless of the level they had attained at home. If they pass the competitive examination at the end of the first year, they will then be allowed to enter the year corresponding to the level attained in their country of origin (once the appropriate level has been determined).
In addition to the DES (Diploma in Specialized Medicine) examination for foreign doctors already practicing, there are specialized training programs available for foreign doctors and medical students: the Attestation de Formation Specialisee (AFS) for young doctors who have already started the process of specialization (duration: two to four semesters) and the Attestation de Formation Specialisee Approfondie (AFSA) for foreign students who have already specialized (duration: one or two semesters). Certain highly specialized university degrees are also available. All of these studies require a good level of French.
The Grand Ecoles
The Grandes Ecoles are uniquely French institutions. Created in the early 19th century in parallel to the university system, they are extremely selective and offer education of a very high standard. Grandes Ecoles offer diplomas at the baccalaureat + five level, i.e. master's degrees. Graduates can follow up this degree
with a specialization, including a specialized engineering degree or a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
The classic method of admission to one of the Grandes Ecoles (competitive examination after two years of preparatory courses, followed by a three-year course of study) has changed to meet modern professional needs. A parallel admission process exists that is specially designed for foreign students. It is based on degrees and exams, with courses of study between two and five years, depending on the entry level granted by the institution.
Grandes Ecoles for Engineering
There are roughly 240 engineering schools, which share common characteristics; this guarantees the quality of the engineering degree, which is at master's level and covers all areas of engineering science .Engineering degrees are national degrees.
Grandes Ecoles for Business and Management
The business schools (about 230 of them) offer specializations and training adapted to the changing economic environment and new management practices. Instruction is often structured around internships and international exchanges.
CGE, EQUIS, AACSB, and AMBA accreditation for business schools:
These accreditations, bestowed on schools and/or the diplomas they offer, guarantee that their recipients meet international standards and certify international equivalence.
CGE : Conference des Grandes Ecoles
EQUIS: European certification from the European Foundation for Management Development.
AACSB: given by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business.
AMBA: awarded by the Association of MBAs in London to the top MBA programs.
Specialized Schools : So-called specialized schools offer higher-level training in specific areas such as Art, Design, Fashion, Tourism, Paramedical Services, Social Services, and so on.
Art schools : There are three types of art schools: the Ecoles nationales superiors d’art (Grandes Ecoles for art), which offer a national diploma after four or five years of study; the schools for applied art, which are supervise by the Ministry of National Education; and the schools of fine art by the Ministry of Culture, offering diplomas after three or five years of study. All have selective admission policies.
Architecture schools : There are 20 architecture schools, supervise by the Ministry of Culture, offering the DPLG (Diploma Par Le Government) architectural diploma, the only one recognized for those working as architects in France. Studies last for six years in three cycles of two years each.
Applying to institutions:
Once programs of interest to you is identified, you must apply for admission. The first step in this important process is to be sure that the institution at the top of your list is willing to accept you. The institution will need to review your academic background to determine whether you are likely to succeed in its program.
The process is important in another way as well. When the institution admits you, it will send you a letter that will enable you to apply for a student visa at the French consulate in your home country. (If you are a national of a European Union member country, you do not need a visa.)
Each French institution sets its own admission standards. Some practices are common to many institutions, however. Undergraduate and graduate admissions to the universities are decided by selection committees that generally meet in June, several months before the beginning of the academic year in September.
The individual faculty members who direct DEA and doctoral programs admit students to their programs after reviewing students' application files and, often, interviewing the applicants.
For more details contact us:
For courses starting in September
You should make contact with the chosen establishment as early in the year as possible in order to have enough time to complete the necessary paperwork and send it back (April 30 is often given as the deadline).
For academic courses that last one or more semesters, educational institutions decide on admissions between June 15th and September 15th, depending on when the admissions committee meets:
Committees for pre-licence and licence admissions meet in June.
Committees for master's level admissions meet in June-July and sometimes in September.
In the worst-case scenario, remember that you may only have one month to prepare your departure for France.
For courses starting in January-February
The deadline for admissions is October 30th for the selection commissions that meet between November 15th and January 15th.
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