Top universities, multiple choices, selective fields, tuition fees…Unravel the complexities of the French system.
Universities are public and, most of the time, not expensive – around 200 euros a year. Teaching is comprehensive but becomes more specific year after year.
Generally, courses are taught in French, except in some specific fields.
They enable students to obtain 3 different diplomas: a Bachelor’s degree in three years, a Master’s in five years, and a PhD for those who continue.
Universities offer the possibility to students to choose from a wide array of fields, and attending universities, up to this year, was open to all who hold a High School diploma. Admission has recently been reformed and has become more complicated.
There are 67 universities in France and 1 National Polytechnic Institute (January 2018).
As a side-note, you can study law in universities, where admission is not selective and tuition fees are similar to those of other universities (it means that it’s affordable).
II. Short professional education
The DUT (Technological College Diplomas) can be offered by Technological College Institutes (IUT), High Schools or CFA (Centers for Trainees).
They enable students to:
– pursue two-year studies in miscellaneous fields
– pursue supervised studies (contrary to universities)
There are 113 IUT in France where you can study law, social studies, business and administration management, administrative and commercial management of organizations, logistics and transport management, communication, Information Technology (IT) etc.
Students who graduate and obtain a BTS (Superior Technical Degree) often enroll in third year in a university to carry on their studies.
III. Selective studies
Health studies (general medicine, pharmacy, dental surgery, midwifery, physiotherapy) are different and consist of a competitive exam that takes place during or at the end of the first year.
General medicine, pharmacy, dental and midwifery offer the same exam, which since 2010 has been called PACES (First Year in Health Studies).
There is a varying number of openings every year for those who take this particular exam, in each region and in each field according to a restricted intake number set by a governmental ordinance.
These kinds of studies are very popular and selective. Chances to pass the exam the first time amount to approximately 20 %.
Veterinary medicine studies
Access to veterinary medicine studies (in French »veto » is short for veterinary) is hard. To be admitted, you need to study for two years in a preparatory veterinary school and take exams. Chances of success in the exam are inferior to 20 %.
The yearly number of places to enter one of the four French veterinary schools is set by an official intake number.
Veterinary education is long (7 to 10 years).
Access to architectural studies is hard as well.
No exam needs to be taken, but there is a selection according to the students’ profiles and interviews.
There are 20 architectural schools in France, all are public and only one is private. Admission rate is low, around 10 %.
Studies generally last five years, or more if you decide to write a thesis (which is rather rare in this field).
In France, demand for engineering schools is high.
In general, you access it through an exam after a two-year preparatory school. Job opportunities are good, and account for the students’ interest.
After the exam, you can enter an engineering school according to your rank. The best schools accept the best ranked students. How are schools ranked ? According to rankings published every year, by the magazine l’Etudiant for instance.
The National Polytechnic Institute (“Polytechnique”) is always ahead. You will then find Supélec, and many other schools with daunting abbreviations.
It is important to know that the schools belonging to the INSA group, and some of them are ranked high at the national level, are accessible through a profile selection and not through an exam anymore.
There is also high demand for business schools.
To access them, many different possibilities exist. Some business schools are public, others are private and very expensive.
Among the most famous ones, you will find HEC, ESSEC, ESCP Europe, or EM Lyon.
To be admitted, once again, you very often need to attend a preparatory business school and take exams, which are numerous as well (BCE for the best schools, but also Accès Passerelle, Ecricome, Tremplin, Sésame, etc.), and which are the same exams for several schools, most of the time.
These schools are also accessible through parallel admission, meaning at least two years after studying in a university.
The business schools, even the public ones, often charge high tuition fees.
Politics studies are usually handled by Institutes of Political Studies (IEP in French).
The easiest way is to be accepted into an IEP for the first year (it then gets more complicated). The first-year admission exam is the same for the institutes in Aix-en-Provence, Lille, Lyon, Rennes, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Strasbourg and Toulouse.
Success rate is around 10 % and studies last for five years.
Possible job opportunities can be then found in public service, international institutions, banks or finance.
The Louvre School
This school is famous worldwide.
You can enter the Louvre School by taking a test after graduation from High School.
It prepares students to jobs related to heritage and its conservation, or to artistic careers.
Few students choose to take it immediately after High School as the chances are very low – they compete against students from literary preparatory schools or from art schools. The success rate in the exam is less than 20 %.
Here is a graph of the durations of studies for different fields:
Find it on the website of the department of Higher Education here .
We offer you advice on study options: how to chose your field and your college, how to carry out the administrative procedures, how ask for a scholarship, how to enroll. We will support you throughout all the steps!
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