French Education System

France offers high quality education at relatively affordable costs compared to many other countries. With increasing number of English taught programs, along with its geographic location and position in Europe, it is becoming more attractive for international students from all over the world.

In France, Higher Education consists of the following three main categories:

  • Public Universities
  • Grandes Écoles: mostly Business or Engineering
  • Others Specialized Schools such as: Art, Architecture, etc.

Public Universities

France’s public universities are funded by the national government, which closely regulates the “national diplomas” granted by the universities. This system allows the universities to offer students an excellent education in all disciplines at a very affordable price.

Since French public universities have a legal obligation to accept all candidates of the region who hold a Baccalauréat (French high school diploma), admission is often not very selective. Most of the programs are taught in French and the class size is much larger than the Grande Écoles.

Grandes Écoles

This uniquely French term refers to institutions that may be either public or private. The two largest groups of Grandes Écoles are Schools of Engineering and Schools of Management, but there are also the Écoles Normales Supérieures (ENS), the institutes of political studies (IEP), veterinary schools, and other schools in a variety of specialized areas.

The Grandes Écoles are very selective while admission is through rigorous written and oral exams.   The traditional Grande Écoles select candidates among those who have completed two years of dedicated preparatory classes after graduating from high school. Although this is not always the case, as an increasing number of students are now interested in the “Post-Bac Grandes Écoles”, such as IÉSEG (currently ranked 1st in France), which selects students directly after high school – a concept more aligned with international standards. Students will then study for 5 years (3 years BBA + 2 years MSc in management) and receive the prestigious national diploma. Many Grandes Écoles also offer shorter master programs, such as MBA, MIB (Master of International Business), Mastère Spécialisé, etc.

The Grandes Écoles do not have large student bodies (3,000 – 6000). Degree programs in the Grandes Écoles usually include international internships and study abroad opportunities. Programs taught in English are quite common and strong links with companies is also one of the advantages of Grandes Écoles.

Annual tuition at most schools is between €3,000 and €15,000.

More detailed information on Higher Education in France can be found at Campus France website.