The French higher education system is divided in 2 main structures, the universities and the grandes écoles.

In Universities

The enrollment in the first year of university study is open to students who have a French baccalauréat or an equivalent secondary-school degree.

To apply in a French university, there are two procedures :

  • if you apply for the first year of a licence (Bachelor), you have to register online on the Admission Post Bac website.(French equivalent of CAO). the website is open for applications from 20th January to 20th March.
  • if you apply for a Master or a PhD, you can directly contact the university you are interested in.

Studies are organized into three basic levels:

  • Licence: 3 years of study corresponding to 6 semesters and 180 ECTS credits.
  • Master: 2 years of study, 4 semesters and 120 ECTS credits.

At the master's level, two paths are possible. Students who choose a "research" master  typically intend to go on to earn a PhD, whereas those who elect a "vocational" master want to begin their careers directly after graduation.

Provided they have sufficient undergraduate experience, international students can enroll directly in a master's program for one or two years of specialized education.

  • Doctorat (PhD): 3 years of study.

To apply for a Master's degree or a PhD's degree, you must directly contact the university you are interested in.

In the grandes écoles and specialized schools

France's unique system of grandes écoles compromises both public and private institutions, such as schools of engineering, the four écoles normales supérieures (ENS), institutes of political studies (IEP), schools of business and management and so on.

The admission is highly selective. Students are admitted after 2 years of preparatory studies (classes préparatoires). The preparatory classes for the grandes écoles, also known as CPGE or prépa, are demanding programs that enable graduates to sit for entrance exams for 3-year programs at one or more grandes écoles. To know more about applications for a Grande école, do not hesitate to contact me.

Schools with a built-in preparatory programme may admit students directly from secondary school.

After 5 years, graduates are awarded their school's degree, which is formally equivalent to a master's degree.

Students must pay tuition. The amount varies by school.

Operating alongside the universities and grandes écoles are more than 3,000 other public and private institutions that offers programs in specific areas. Specialized schools and institutes offer instruction in the health professions, paramedical
professions, paramedical services, audiovisual arts, communication, journalism, social work, fashion, design, tourism, culinary arts, military studies, agriculture, agronomy, and political science, among others.

Some of these institutions confer official (government-sanctioned) degrees. The programs last for 2 to 5 years.
The students are admitted by examination or by application.