What to Know Before You Study in France

Art, scenic views and even gourmet cheese — France has it all. Whether you want to study abroad at a large or small university, France has plenty of options and welcomes hundreds of thousands of international students every year.

Higher Education in France

The French higher education system consists of universities, technical institutes and specialized schools (grandes écoles). The French government operates most universities.

There are 83 public universities and nearly 500 specialized schools, some public and some private.

The universities offer academic and professional degree programs. The specialized schools are very prestigious and selective, training students for careers in business, engineering, art, architecture and other fields. (Recently, many Indian students are choosing to study abroad in France.)

A few religiously-affiliated private universities also exist in France.

Requirements to Study Abroad in France

The university system is open to all students as long as they hold the proper entry qualifications. That includes about 180,000 people who study abroad in France.

Each institution sets its own requirements for admission. For students from countries that are not part of the European Union, there is a mandatory online application procedure.

Students are admitted if their prior academic work is likely to have prepared them for what they intend to study in France. Students wishing to enroll in a course plan similar to what they are studying at home must contact the university directly.

While registration procedures may vary according to the levels and subjects of study for French universities, a good knowledge of French is recommended.

Complete fluency is not mandatory. However, the student must demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency in French for their planned course of study. This does not apply to students enrolling in a language institute at the entry level.

Student Visas to Study Abroad in France

The procedure for requesting and issuing visas is electronic for about 20 countries, including the United States. There is a mandatory online application procedure that must be completed in order for students living outside of the European Union to obtain a visa.

After a student visa is issued, a visiting student must obtain a student resident permit within the first two months of arrival. This permit allows visiting students to work up to 19.5 hours per week.

Students will often need certified translations of personal documents in order to apply for a French student visa.

Expenses to Study Abroad in France

French law requires those wishing to study abroad in France to prove that they have enough money to live in France without working while they study.

The French government estimates that a visiting student will need at least 800 EUR (about US $1,100) per month to survive. That is 5,160 EUR per year, or almost US $13,300.

This is probably a low estimate. To be safe, visiting students will probably need about 1000 EUR (US $1,400) per month.

Degrees in France

The French higher education has evolved considerably over the years. Currently, French higher education adheres to the standardized “Licence-Master-Doctorat” system that is used throughout the European Union.

Degrees currently awarded in France include:

  • Licence – Roughly equivalent to the Bachelor’s Degree, awarded after three years of study
  • Master – Equivalent to a Master’s Degree
  • Doctorat – Equivalent to a Doctoral Degree

Tuition Fees to Study Abroad in France

If you study abroad in France, you generally will have to pay the tuition fees, except for some postgraduate courses and courses taken at the specialized schools. The annual fees in public institutions of higher education vary. Compared to the cost of higher education in other countries, it is inexpensive.

Tuition ranges from 150 to 900 EUR (about US $207 to $1,243), depending on the course of study. Student fees for private institutions are considerably more, ranging from 3,000 to 7,000 EUR (about US $4,150 to $9,670) or more depending on the institution.

You can either choose to study abroad in France for the language, the art, the culture or another reason altogether. One thing is certain, though: the culture, sights and history of France will not disappoint!