If you want to study in a country that is diverse, has an excellent academic reputation, and offers a culture that is revered by almost every other nation, you need look no further than France. One of the most popular destinations for studying abroad, France is an excellent choice for any prospective international student.
There are currently more than 250,000 international students in France. In fact, around 10% of enrollments at French universities are international students; many of whom study at graduate level (masters and doctoral studies). The country offers an excellent environment for all international students when it comes to quality of education, lectures and research opportunities.
Many French universities are influential: Paris alone has more than 10 universities in the QS World University Rankings, including Sorbonne, ESSEC Business School, Ecole Normale Supérieur (ENS), Université Pierre et Marie Curie and Ecole Polytechnique Paris Tech.
There are many universities and research centers all across country, ideal for all internationals who wish to study in France. France offers exciting opportunities for all international students and it’s a great destination for those who seek quality but affordable higher education at a prestigious European university.
Why Study in France?
To put it simply, the French higher education system is one of the best in the world. It is also one of the most accessible ones. With dramatically reduced tuition fees in comparison to other leading study abroad destinations, studying in France is more economically viable for international students. Consistently appearing near the top of internationally renowned rankings, French universities offer an academic pedigree that easily competes with other countries.
France is particularly a good choice for those wanting to study business related subjects. The country is somewhat of a hub for international business and management education as it has lots of business schools in the worldwide rankings.
France has 83 public universities and they are all funded by the national government, offering excellent education at a very affordable price to all students, domestic or international. There are also a number of private universities. The academic year begins in September or October and ends in May or June, depending on the program and institution. There are two semesters, divided by a break following final examinations at the end of the first semester. There are two main types of courses offered at French universities: large lecture courses, where the professor speaks and students take notes, and sections & labs, designed for smaller groups of students where the material covered in lectures is explored in greater detail. Usually, attendance in sections & labs is mandatory. Some career-oriented programs also require internships and practical training.
When it comes to degrees, French universities use a format popular throughout EU: licence, master, doctorate. Licence refers to undergraduate studies and it lasts for 6 semesters (3 years), with 180 ECTS earned. Master studies last for an additional 4 semesters (2 years), for a total of 5 years of study and 300 ECTS earned. Doctorate is usually obtained after the additional 6 semesters (3 years). Find out what the ECTS is from Anna, our study abroad expert.
It’s also important to know that every university has an internship referral system and a career services office, so you will always know of the most recent internship and job opportunities available to you.
France is a beautiful country with a long history of higher education. Located in Western Europe, it occupies a geographically diverse area from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Sea and the English Channel. This gives France stunning natural beauties you may wish to explore. Culturally, France is a country with a long history as well as rich artistic, philosophical and scientific tradition. France is one of the major centres of culture, cuisine and literature. All these reasons make it an exciting destination for international students across the world.
The top tourist attractions in France include:
- Eiffel Tower (Paris)
- Chateau de Versailles (Versailles)
- Mont Saint Michel (Normandy)
- The Cote d’Azure
- The Louvre (Paris)
- Mont Blanc (Western Europe’s largest mountain)
France uses the Euro (€) for its currency. Tuition rates at public institutions are set by the government and they are very affordable. In fact, tuition rates at France’s public institutions of higher education are identical for domestic and international students.
Tuition costs are set every year. In 2013, annual tuition costs for undergraduate studies were set under €200 (under US$300). For master’s studies, the rates are around €245 (around US$320) and for doctoral studies it’s around €370 (US$488). Students are often required to pay certain administrative fees which raise tuition costs a bit. Despite these fees, studying in France remains one of the most affordable options for international students who seek a quality higher education.
These rates apply to public institutions only. If you wish to study at a private institution, the rates tend to be much higher and go up to €10,000 (US$13,000) per year.
There are also certain scholarships and mobility schemes available for those who wish to study abroad in France. Some of the most popular ones include grants from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, funding made by National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), awards from regional councils, Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus programs.
Unlike tuition rates, costs of living in France tend to be higher than neighbouring countries. Luckily, students are often eligible to subsidized rates at restaurants and transportation. There is also specialised housing for students which is even available to internationals who wish to study in France. Costs of living are significantly lower in smaller towns, so this is another thing to keep in mind when deciding on where to study in France.
If you wish to study in France, it’s important to inform yourself about all the possible visa requirements. French government regulates these issues and regulations depend on your citizenship.
For EU citizens and citizens of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, no visa is required.
Applicants from outside the EU: You will need to obtain a visa, which includes a residence permit (VLS-TS). It is valid for one year and can be renewed later if necessary. In order to obtain this visa you have to complete an application form as well provide OFII (the French Office of Immigration and Integration) passport photos, proof of your qualifications, a police certificate attesting that you don’t have a serious criminal record, a proof you can speak French (if your course is in French) and a proof you have sufficient financial means. Once you arrive in France you will need to contact OFII (they may request that you undertake a medical examination).
Many French people speak languages other than their own. However, for effective communication and studying in France, you should know French. International students who are fluent in French have a much easier time with their studies and everyday life. If you feel your French is not good enough, there are many language courses available for the students who wish to perfect their language skills. Also, socializing with the locals and experiencing the language in everyday setting will help you improve your French.
At the same time, there is a possibility to use English in everyday life, or during your studies and research. However, even in those circumstances international students are encouraged to learn French and improve their language skills. Don’t take this as an obstacle but a challenge. Remember, being fluent in French might prove to be a good investment for your professional and academic life.
In the event of your course being taught in French, you will need to prove that you are sufficiently fluent by taking one of the approved tests: TCF DAP (Test de Connaissance du Français, Demande d’Admission Préalable), DALF (diplôme approfondi de langue française) or CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). In case your course is in English, you should prove English language proficiency.