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France

Study in France

A bustling learning hub in Europe, France is becoming a popular study destination for international students. Find out more about the country’s excellence in education, and many more.

Study in France

A bustling learning hub in Europe, France is becoming a popular study destination for international students. Find out more about the country’s excellence in education, and many more.

The country plays a big role in international affairs, which is a huge draw for post-graduate foreign students, especially those looking to study International Relations or start a career in international organizations. French educational institutions are world-class quality, making France a dream study abroad destination for many international students.

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Population: 67,000,000
  • GDP per Capita: $45,893
  • Total area: 543,965 sq km

Why Study in France?

Simply put, France’s higher education is among the world’s best. It is also one of the easiest to get to. Learning in France is much more affordable for foreign students thanks to the country’s relatively low tuition fees. Every year, French universities are among the best in the world. Their educational institutions are capable of competing with those in other nations.

Read further to get to know France more as a study destination, along with various factors that will help you decide if it is the right one for you.

Overview

Internationally, France is known for its fashion and art, as well as its cuisine and automobiles. In fact, the city’s attractions, as well as its various cuisines, are frequently featured in travel guides. But this is only the start of France’s reputation; it also includes the country’s world-class higher education and research frameworks. When it comes to studying abroad, France has long been a popular choice for international students.

The country also ranks highly in international rankings, like the QS World University Rankings, for their higher education institutions (HEIs). In addition, international students are given the opportunity to work in France while they are in school and after they have finished their studies.

There are reportedly 370,000 international students studying in France’s academic institutions, according to the most recent statistics. In the past few years, the number of international students studying in France has increased, mainly due to the high quality of France’s higher education system. Overall, more than 2.5 million French citizens are enrolled in postsecondary institutions.

Thousands of overseas students flock to France each year to take advantage of the country’s world-class education system. France is also popular in terms of its diverse student population, excellent quality of life, and vibrant nightlife. Culture, diversity, language learning, and social life are also great perks of living and studying in the country.

France as a Study Destination

Many international students choose to study in France for a range of factors, among them include the country’s reputation for high-quality education and its numerous top-ranked institutions. In fact, Paris, the nation’s capital, ranked 8th in the QS Best Student Cities list for 2023.

It is not just in the school that France’s allure to foreign students is felt. The richness of French culture, cuisine, and UNESCO world heritage sites, as well as the country’s significant part in influencing European history, continue to attract students.

Education System

In France, education is a top priority, accounting for 21% of the country’s yearly budget. The country’s literacy rate is 99%  of the population. Higher education in France has been around for a long time. In 1215, one of the world’s oldest universities, the University of Paris, was established. Before 1789, the Church controls the nation’s educational policy. A standardized and centralized educational system was established following the French Revolution.

French educational institutions are structured into 31 educational regions called académies, based on geographic location. A recteur is responsible for all levels of education in each académie, and is appointed by the Ministry of Education to oversee that region. The Ministry of Education is instrumental in creating the curriculum and establishing educational standards and goals.

Academic Excellence

Having one of the best education systems in the world and high academic standards make France a great place to study. To date, 32 French universities have been included in the QS World University Ranking for 2023. This year, the majority of these institutions saw an increase in their rankings. In the top 200, six French institutions appear, followed by four in the top 100 and two in the top fifty.

The government of France’s role in centralizing educational resources has helped improve the country’s education system. It is governed by a body called the Department of National Education, Higher Education, and Research. The State has complete control over everything from curriculum to admission of instructors to training of inspectors. Plus, the State provides funding for the public education system while subsidizing the private ones.

Top Education Providers

As previously mentioned, six higher education institutions in France were recognized and earned a spot in the 2023 QS World University Ranking, namely:

QS World University Ranking 2023 (Top 100)

  • Paris Sciences et Lettres, 26th place

  • Institut Polytechnique de Paris, 48th place

  • Sorbonne University, 60th place

  • University of Paris-Saclay, 69th place

PSL University (Paris Sciences et Lettres)

As a leading research and education institution located in the heart of Paris, Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) encourages cross-disciplinary dialogue. PSL students have access to a wide range of research-based courses since they are specially chosen and monitored.

As a PSL student, you’ll learn how to find answers and alternatives that will have a positive effect on society, no matter what your career path is. Students from all walks of life are welcome at PSL, which is a public university that encourages a diverse student population. PSL started as a dream of its founders, but now it is a well-established reality with promising prospects.

Institut Polytechnique de Paris

The École Polytechnique, ENSTA Paris, ENSAE Paris, Télécom Paris, and Télécom SudParis are five of the best engineering schools in France. They are all part of the Institut Polytechnique de Paris, a public college and research center. The newly formed Institut Polytechnique de Paris (IPP) is taking advantage of its five founding schools’ combined 200 years of experience in science and technology.

A wide range of scientific, academic, and recreational resources can be found on the university’s grounds. On-campus or off-campus housing options are available for students, as well as in nearby cities and Paris. The campus is conveniently placed just outside of Paris, making it possible for students to benefit from the city’s bustling economy and diverse cultural offerings.

Sorbonne University

By merging Paris-Sorbonne and Pierre & Marie Curie Universities, two of Paris’ most prestigious universities, the Sorbonne University was established. This new French university is based on a long history of academic excellence. 

The Sorbonne offers courses in the arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, sciences, engineering, and other related fields. The educational and research philosophy at Sorbonne University is geared toward meeting the intellectual and scientific demands of the twenty-first century.

University of Paris-Saclay

The international presence of Paris-Saclay University enhances its strategic geographic and socioeconomic position. Faced with increasing international competition in higher education, research, and advancement, Université Paris-Saclay members decided to allocate their resources to develop a joint international education and research project. The University is an  important player in European science and technology conducting cutting-edge research.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

France has emerged as one of the most sought-after study destinations for college students across the globe. However, it’s not always possible for students to afford both their education and their living expenses.

There are lots of scholarships available for international students studying in France. Here are some of the best scholarship programs which can help in pursuing education in France more affordable:

American University of Paris (AUP) Scholarships and Financial Aids

Scholarships in the AUP are given to students based on their background and profile. All students are considered automatically for these once they have been admitted to the university. On the other hand, financial aids focus on tuition subsidies and are awarded based on the financial status of the students as well as performance in academics.

Émile Boutmy Scholarship

The Émile Boutmy scholarship is for non-European students who are first-time applicants and admitted to an undergraduate or master’s program in the Paris Institute of Political Studies, more commonly known as Sciences Po. Students applying for this scholarship program are evaluated based on merit and their profile.

École des Ponts ParisTech Scholarships

Students studying the engineering program of École des Ponts ParisTech are eligible to apply for this scholarship which amounts to 10,000 euros over the course of three semesters. International students can also receive support in the form of a monthly allowance amounting to 850 euros and travel subsidies. This scholarship is awarded based on the financial situation of the student, measured using the annual household income. 

Université Paris-Saclay International Master’s Scholarships

This scholarship is specific to students pursuing a master’s degree at Université Paris-Saclay. It provides a subsidy for tuition and also allows students EUR 1000 to use for traveling and processing of visas. This can be awarded to students who meet specific criteria and credential requirements, as well as pass the screening.

Quality of Life

In a recent survey, an average French person rated their life satisfaction at 7.4 out of 10, according to France’s National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies.

According to the Better Life Index, France ranks highly in terms of overall happiness. Compared to the rest of the world, France excels in the areas of work-life balance, safety, social bonds, and civic participation. The OECD average for adults aged 25 to 64 is 79%, but in France, 81% of the adult population has completed upper secondary education.

Cultural Diversity

A “center of high culture” since the 17th century, France has long been acknowledged for its arts and literature. French culture has had a significant impact on the development of the arts, cultures, and sciences around the world. Fashion, food, art, and film are just a few of the many things that make France famous around the world.

France has a long history of welcoming students from around the world. In fact, it placed fourth in the Top 10 Places in the World to Study Abroad in 2022, ahead of several other English-speaking nations. Many universities in the country teach courses in English, despite the fact that the majority of the population speaks French.

The notion that France is a top choice for international students is due to more than just its great record; the country’s commitment to cultural diversity is upheld in French law. It is illegal in France to support anti-Semitism, racism, or any other form of racial hatred, and it is punishable by law.

Language

French is the main language of 88 percent of the French population, making it the official language of the country. Even so, the vast majority of people speak French as a second language.

There are still areas where minority languages thrive. Eastern provinces speak German, while the northeast and southeast speak Flemish and Italian, respectively. A few other languages are spoken by inhabitants of other parts of France.

Tuition Fees

One of the advantages of studying in France is the lower cost of tuition compared to the United States and the United Kingdom. International students in France may also receive funding.

Overseas students will have to pay the following new tuition fees as of September 2019:

  • Bachelor’s (License) degree programs cost 2,770 EUR per year.

  • Master’s degree programs cost 3,770 EUR per year.

  • Ph.D. programs cost 380 EUR per year.

If you are interested in attending a private university, keep in mind that these figures only apply to public institutions. Annually, private university tuition costs anywhere from 3,500 EUR to 20,000 EUR.

Cost of Living

Food, transportation, and housing all require a monthly budget of 600 to 800 Euros if you plan on studying in France. The cost varies according to where the student lives and the type of lodging they choose.

France’s cost of living is higher than that of its western European neighbors, but Paris is a major contributing factor. The prices are cheaper in other parts of France, especially in the countryside and in the south.

Take into account that despite its expensive cities, France has one of the world’s highest standards of living for its population size. In terms of the OECD’s Better Life Indicators, it tops the list.

How to Submit an Application

Applying as an international student in France depends on the course and level of study. In order to submit an application to one of the Grandes Écoles, you must make direct contact with the school. Application for a Licence degree is handled through the Parcoursup platform. If you wanted to pursue study at the master’s level, you will be required to make close communication with the educational institution, just like students in France do.

In general, you’ll have to prove that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition, that you’re fluent in the language of instruction, and that you have health insurance (if you’re not an EU/EEA citizen).

Plan your future with us. Be educated about taking your education further in the beautiful country of France. Follow MSM Unify for more info about admission into the country.

Fast Facts

Top French Higher Education Institutions
  1. Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres)
  2. Ecole Polytechnique
  3. Sorbonne University
  4. CentraleSupélec
  5. Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon
  6. Ecole des Ponts ParisTech and Sciences Po Paris
  7. Universite de Paris
  8. Universite Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne
  9. ENS Paris-Saclay
Top Postgraduate Courses in France
  1. Finance
  2. Accounting
  3. Management
  4. Economics
  5. Business
  6. Cosmetics
  7. Electronics
  8. Aerospace
Top Jobs by Demand
  1. Health and Social Care
  2. Wholesale and Retail Trade
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Construction
  5. Accommodation and Food Sector
  6. Professional Services
Top-Earning Jobs in France
  1. Surgeon / Physician
  2. Judge
  3. Lawyer
  4. Bank Manager
  5. Chief Executive Officer
  6. Chief Financial Officer
  7. Orthodontist
  8. College Professor
  9. Pilot
  10. Marketing Director
Top Industries in France
  1. Aeronautics and space
  2. Automotive
  3. Pharmaceutical
  4. Energy
  5. Agri-Food sector
French-Gallery
French-Gallery

Recreational Activities

There’s no dull day in France for international students. They can enjoy art, the sciences, and history by visiting the many museums. They can partake of culture in cinemas, theatres, and restaurants.

A myriad of sports are also available, but it may come with fees if it includes access to clubs with the appropriate equipment. For fitness, going for a run in the country’s many parks and beautiful streets is always free!

Application Process

Prerequisites

A French student visa is required for non-EU and non-EEA nationals. Before applying, you should first check your eligibility and go over the actual processes.
If you belong to a country that is supported by the “Etudes en France” procedure, you need to create an account on the site and they will help you with your pre-registration process with top universities in France.
Help is available even during the preparation of visa requirements. However, for those who must process their visas by themselves, the first step is applying to the university of your choice.
Once approved, you will receive an acceptance letter that you will need to present for your visa application.
You may also need to take a language proficiency test, depending on the medium of instruction of your programme. Courses are usually taught in either in French or English.
For courses taught in French, you must pass any of the following language tests: DELF/DALF or TCF. For courses taught in English, you must pass any of the following tests: IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic, or C1 Advanced.

There are different types of student visas:
  • Schengen Student Visa (short-stay visa)
    • For courses not exceeding 90 days
    • Non-renewable
  • Temporary Long-stay Visa
    • For courses that will take up 6 months to complete
  • Long-Stay Visa (VLS-TS)
    • For courses that exceed 6 months.
    • Visa period will depend on how long the course will take (some bachelor’s degree may take up to 3 years to finish).
    • Doubles as a residence permit until you finish your long-term course.
  • Visa for Entrance Exams
    • This is issued to those who need to sit in a university in France for an entrance exam.
    • If you pass the entrance exam, you will be eligible to apply for a renewable 1-year residence permit.
Prepare the following documents for visa application:
  • Valid passport
  • Copies of previous visas, if any
  • Medical insurance
  • Proof of your financial means to cover living expenses abroad
  • Airline ticket/reservation that shows the date of departure
  • Proof showing accommodation arrangements covering the entire study period

Student Visa Application

The official online visa portal where you will be starting your application for the student visa can be found in France-Visas. After all necessary information has been entered and all documents uploaded, you will be scheduled for an appointment at the designated embassy.

The visa fees may differ based on your nationality. In some countries, there is an option to have your passport delivered to your home once a decision has been made.

However, for those who do not have this option, you must get the visa from the assigned visa centre. The visa application processing may take up to 3 weeks.

Travel Checklist

After your visa gets approved, the next focus is the preparation of things needed for study in France. It is recommended to check the portal of the General Directorate of Customs and Indirect Rights. The total amount that you can bring into France undeclared should not reach a total amount of €10,000.00.

Money may be in the form of cash, cheques, shares, bonds, securities, or valuables. If you need to declare the amount, you must download and fill out the form on the portal. The easiest way to submit this is by logging into the Dalia site and uploading the document there. However, you may also print out the document and give it to the French Customs at the time of your entry.

Arrival in France for Long-Term Visa

If you were given the VLS-TS visa you must validate your visa within the first 3 months of your stay. This is important as this acts as your residence permit and by doing so, you will not be forced to get a new visa after you have already stayed for three months in France.

Tuition and Other Expenses

France is known to have a high cost of living and school fees. Given that the country boasts of excellent quality education, studying in France is worth the money. Preparing a budget per year basis is recommended to avoid future problems. Below is the estimated yearly expenses for your reference:

    • Tuition fees
      • Private university: yearly tuition may range from as low as €1,500.00 or may be more than €20,000.00.
      • Business school: yearly tuition may range from as low as €5,000.00 or may reach up to €30,000.00.
    • Living and accommodations
Expense TypeCost Euro (€) per year
Accommodation6,474.00
Food3,237.00
Essentials & Entertainment1,245.00
Transportation448.20
Total11,404.20

Financial Assistance and Work Options

The government allows students with a VLS-TS visa to work for 20 hours per week as long as the job does not interfere with their studies. After graduation, if the student is able to convert his visa to a work permit, he can finally work full time for up to two years in the country.

International working students are entitled to receive payment for work rendered. The government requires all establishments that the pay for working students should not fall below the hourly minimum wage.

For those who want to avail themselves of scholarship opportunities in France, look into those offered in different universities and colleges.

The French Foreign Ministry provides the Eiffel scholarship program to the best international students who want to pursue post-graduate programs. An allowance of €1,181 is awarded to master’s courses, while €1,400 for PhD courses.

On top of that, scholarship holders are covered with health insurance, as well as expenses on return trips, accommodation, and cultural activities. However, tuition fees are not covered.Based on social criteria such as living in France for two years, The French Ministry of Higher Education also offers scholarships. An example would be financing doctoral contracts by Doctoral institutions. Other universities also offer these scholarships:

  • Ecole Normale Supérieure International Selection
  • Ampere Scholarships of Excellence at ENS de Lyon
  • Emile Boutmy Scholarships at Sciences Po University
  • Université Paris-Saclay International Master’s Scholarships
  • Grenoble Institute of Technology Foundation Scholarships
  • HEC Paris MBA Scholarships

Students who are pursuing doctoral and post-doctoral degrees can have financial aid for research under institutes of higher education and public organisations such as:

  • National Centre for Scientific Research
  • Institute for Research and Development
  • Environmental and Energy Control Agency
  • French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea