French higher education

In France there is no automatic equivalence between international and French academic qualifications. Each institution sets its own entry requirements, taking into consideration the student’s previous academic background as well as the program he/she wishes to embark upon. This enables homogeneous classes to be created and guarantees the level of teaching.

The French higher education system includes various educational institutions. Actually, there are three types of French higher education:

As state schools, universities give diversified general and specialised technings of all levels. The curriculum is made of three succesive cycles called “LMD” standing for “Licence” (undergraduate degree), “Master” and “Doctorat” (Ph.D). They welcome students holding the baccalauréat or its equivalent.

The “grandes écoles” offer a specialised high level and professional education with a competitive entrance examination.

Specialised schools cover various professional areas and offer degree courses corresponding to specific jobs.

So-called “long studies”

French universities are higher education and research state schools where professor-researchers (Senior Lecturers or Professors) carry out both research and teaching works. Teachings are organised by semester, each one ending by an exam session. A degree is issued if the overall assesment of exams proves successful.

  • The Undergraduate degree (Bachelor) is issued if the student has validated his first semesters. After this general and theoretical course, the student can carry on with a master or enter a school on the basis of his application or a competitive examination. Professional undergraduate degrees also exist which prepare to professional life.

The student will be issued a Postgraduate degree (Master) if he has validated his four semesters following the undergraduate degree. There are two types of masters: professional masters, directed towards working life and research masters intended to prepare a Ph.D afterwards. This Ph.D will only be valid once the thesis is attended and open the way to researcher or professor-researcher positions.

  • Health studies

These studies also take place at the university and recquire passaing a competitive examination after the first year. Medicine studies last 9 years when pharmacy and ontology, 6 years and students proving successful will be given the title of “Doctor”.

  • Engineering schools

They offer scientific courses allowing to work in industry and select students on the basis of their application or through competitive examinations. The engineering diploma is issued after at least 5 years of higher studies with a master’s degree.

So-called “short studies”

The BTS (“Brevets de Technicien Supérieur”)
Senior technician departments are generally located in high schools and prepare in two years to the Brevet de Technicien Supérieur in a specialised tertiary or technological sector. This vocational training certificate gives a direct access to working life.

The IUT (“Instituts Universitaires de Technologie”)
As part of a university, institutes of technology prepare a two-year diploma, the DUT (« Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie”) in the tertiary sector or in technology. Both vocational and theoretical, this course often includes a compulsory training course leading to professional life or a professional undergraduate degree or an engineering school.