French Education System - Study in France (2023)

Each country’s education system differs from the other, since there are many aspects to look at. The French education system is particularly known for being complicated when it comes to different categories and types of diplomas and tests. The French schools are known for being strictly educational. Meaning they don’t have much extracurricular activities at least related to the school (they don’t have much funding due to the low or no costs of tuition), no school dances or major events, no posters like you see in other schools in Europe. It is very common in France to repeat a school year if the students do not achieve the average grades they need to pass the classes.

The French education system consists of three stages: primary education, secondary education, and higher education.

Primary education

While day care and kindergarten are not mandatory, from the age of 6 all children must enrol in school. Primary school consists of five years of study, from the age 6-11 (similar to a US elementary school).

Secondary education

After primary school, students move to secondary school, which is divided into two stages:

  1. The collège (middle school), is composed of four years of study, for students ages eleven through fifteen. Students receive a “brevet des collèges” upon its completion.
  2. The lycée (high school) for the final three years of secondary education. Students then take an examination to receive the baccalauréat (bac) qualification (high school diploma).

Higher education

After high school, students choose either a vocational diploma or an academic diploma.

(Video) French Education System Explained: Grandes Ecoles vs University

Vocational diplomas:

The DUT (diplôme universitaire de technologie) and BTS (brevet de technicien supérieur) are two-year technology-oriented degrees. BTS courses are offered by high schools, whereas DUT are awarded by universities. A DUT or BTS may be followed by one additional qualifying year of study, leading to a “licence professionnelle”.

Academic diplomas:

There are three types of higher education institutions in France: universities, Grandes écoles, and specialized schools.


Universities are public institutions that offer academic, technical, and professional degrees to any student who has obtained a “baccalauréat “ or its foreign equivalent. University study leads to degrees in many fields. Degrees are three different levels of achievement

  1. Licence
  2. Master
  3. Doctorat

Grandes écoles

“Grandes écoles” are selective public and private institutions. They are similar to universities, but typically offer a more specialized three-year course of study, in subjects such as engineering, business, or public administration. Students are admitted to the Grandes écoles based on their scores on a competitive exam. Before taking this exam, students must have obtained a “baccalauréat”, and they often have taken a two-year preparatory course (cours préparatoires or prépas). Students graduate from a Grande école with a master’s degree (master).

Specialized schools

Specialized schools are public or private institutions that train students for professional careers in specific fields, such as art, architecture, social work, or tourism. They offer licence and master degrees.

(Video) FRENCH SCHOOL SYSTEM EXPLAINED | how french school works | french school vocabulary 📚🏫🇫🇷

The LMD Framework

The LDM framework stands for license, master, doctorate:

  1. The licence (bachelor). This is a three-year course of study, is an undergraduate degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the English-speaking world.
  2. The master. This is a two-year course of study equivalent to a master’s degree. The master can be a professional degree (master professionnel), e.g. law, business, or engineering, or it can be a research degree (master recherche), leading towards doctoral work.
  3. The doctorate. Students holding a master’s degree can complete an additional three years’ coursework to qualify for a doctorate (doctoral-degree equivalent). The doctorate is obligatory for medical doctors, who receive a state diploma in medicine.

Criteria to enrol in a French University

If you want to enroll in a French university, you will typically need the following documents:

  1. ID photo or driver’s license
  2. High school transcripts (or relevant equivalent)
  3. Copy of passport
  4. A passport sized photo
  5. Visa
  6. Proof that you can support yourself financially
  7. Copy of birth certificate
  8. Certified translation of the birthplace of your parents
  9. Essay (if asked)
  10. English proficiency results (TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo etc.)
  11. Application fee (if asked)
  12. Any other required document depending on the University

French tuition fees

The tuition fees differ depending on the University. On average, here’s how much you might have to pay for tuition in a French University based on your degree.

  • Bachelor’s degree: 2,770 euros per year
  • Master’s degree: 3,770 euros per year
  • PhD’s degree: 2,770 380 per year

For more information on tuition cost in French Universities and how you can get funding, you can read our other article (article here).

Main Differences Between the French and US Education System

The French and U.S. education systems – while both are good in their own rights – have many differences, including schedules, after-school activities, grading systems, and even the student-teacher relationship.

(Video) STUDY IN FRANCE - How does the French education system work? #studentlife

School schedule

French schedule is much longer than the US one. They usually start at 8AM and end around 5 or 6PM. Wednesdays end at noon but they have Saturday morning classes. While in the US, a typical school day starts at 7:30AM and ends at about 3PM.

After-school activities

The length of the hours in the French schools is one of the reasons why they don’t have many school clubs like in the US. They might have main ones like “chess, science” but not creative outstanding ones like you see in the US schools. They only have 2 hours of mandatory “physical education” per week. Whereas in the US they have clubs varying from theatre to sports and academics and any creative club you can think of that students might want to participate in.


The French system uses numbers from 0-20 to grade their students whereas in the US letters from A to F are used. Aside from the letters/numbers differences, another thing is that the French are not as “lenient” on the grades as the US system is. For example in the US we often see “A+” used or encouraging words to let the students know they have done a very good job. Well in the French grading system getting an A is near to impossible. If you get a 16 mark that’s as good as it’s gonna get. Also as mentioned before, in the US it’s considered a big deal if you have to repeat a whole school year but in the French system it’s actually really common. Read more about the French grading system.

Teacher-student relationship

Having a friendship with a teacher in France is a big no. In the US, students are used to stopping by a teacher’s office asking them a question about the lesson or have the teachers involved in school clubs and collaborate together on different projects, but in France it’s strictly academic. Teachers in France do not prefer at all to “stop by” for questions in fact, they don’t have office hours like the US teachers do. They just come in to teach the lesson and leave. They do have a place where the teachers gather but students aren’t allowed there.

French Schools in English

Studying in English in France is what some international students do if they don’t know how to speak French yet, but they want to enjoy all French things. There are many programmes to choose from in different courses, some of which are the top programmes in Europe and even the world. France is also an international student’s go-to because of the low tuition costs compared to the US or other major countries. And, of course, the chance to be around high academics, enjoy the French culture, and maybe even learn to speak French fluently. To find out more about which programmes international students pick most and what they have to offer, read our article on this topic.

(Video) French School System |

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What level of French is required to study in France? ›

Most universities in France, specially the public ones, require the B2 (intermediate) certificate in the "Diplôme d'Etudes en Langue Française - DELF" or the TCF-DAP for international students. Few of them require the C1 (advanced) certificate in the "Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française - DALF).

What subjects do French students study? ›

The compulsory middle and high school subjects cover French Language and Literature, History and Geography, Foreign Language, Arts and Crafts, Musical Education, Civics, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Technology, and PE.

Is the education system in France good? ›

Education in France is known globally as both competitive and exceptional when it comes to giving students a quality learning experience. This is because the French government and the French people understand the importance of education, thus they continue to provide substantial money towards their education systems.

Is university study in France free? ›

Tuition fees are low in public Higher education institutions because the French government subsidizes higher education. The true cost of education is the same as it is elsewhere in the world—around €10,000 a year.

How long does it take to learn A1 French? ›

Level A1 Discover the language: 90 hours/6 weeks. Level A2 Coping with everyday situations: 135 hours/9 weeks. Level B1 Managing everyday situations: 135 hours/9 weeks. Level B2 Be independent in daily and professional life: 180 hours/12 weeks.

Can I study in France without IELTS? ›

Yes, you can study in France at public and private universities without appearing for the IELTS exam. There are alternative options such as taking other English proficiency exams, having a stellar academic transcript, or sitting for a university interview to have your English skills accessed.

Which study is best in France? ›

Some of the popular courses in France for international students are Business courses, Culinary, History, Data Sciences etc. Many subject experts hail from France. Thus, making it one of the top student destinations of the world.

Which French course is best? ›

The 9 Best Online French Classes of 2022
  • Best Overall: Berlitz.
  • Best Budget: FrenchPod101.
  • Best for Kids and Teens: French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)
  • Best Audio-Based: Rocket French.
  • Best Dialogue-Based: Babbel.
  • Best Immersion-Based: Rosetta Stone.
  • Best for Humor and Entertainment: Frantastique.
20 Sept 2022

Is French difficult study? ›

The FSI scale ranks French as a “category I language”, considered “more similar to English” compared to categories III and IV “hard” or “super-hard languages”. According to the FSI, French is one of the easiest languages to learn for a native English speaker.

Is Studying in France better than Germany? ›

Both France and Germany are great study destinations with plenty to offer to international students. But, depending on your preferences, one country may be a better fit for you than the other. For example, if you're into historical monuments and fantastic wine and food culture, France is the place to be.

Are French students happy? ›

French pupils scored an average of 7.63 out of 10 on the life satisfaction scale, just below Switzerland, with Mexico coming top (data was unavailable for some countries like Australia).

Why France is the best country to study? ›

Why study in France? According to students reporting on what it was like to study in France, the country offers a great multicultural study experience, bringing together cultures from all over the world. Students appreciate the beautiful, developed cities and the great variety of social life available.

Can a poor student study abroad? ›

Can I study abroad if I'm poor? Nothing can stop you if you can prove yourself. You can always apply for some of the best and international merit-based scholarships. Showcasing your merit can also get you education loans.

Is France expensive to study? ›

University tuition fees in France

For Bachelor's programmes, the average tuition fees are around 170 EUR per year. Engineering degrees have higher tuition fees of around 620 EUR per academic year. The average tuition fees for Medicine studies can reach up to 450 EUR per year.

Is France cheap to study? ›

Ans: France is on the list of cheapest countries to study. They offer affordable tuition fees for international students such as 170 euros to pursue a bachelor's degree in France.

How many levels of French are there? ›

There are 6 French levels determined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). These levels are expressed as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. The CEFR French levels are widely accepted as the global standard for grading an individual's language proficiency.

Is B1 French Good? ›

Level B1, which is sometimes referred to as 'Threshold' or 'Breakthrough' stage, is the point at which a French speaker moves away from the most simplistic language usage and is able to cope with most of the situations they are likely to encounter when travelling around a French-speaking country.

How many hours is A2 French? ›

Although groups are limited to 6 people, please bear in mind that each learner will demonstrate a varying level of aptitude in any given domain.
LevelCan be reached through ... hours of studyTotal of study hours
A180 to 100 h80 to 100 h
A2+ 100 to 120 h180 to 200 h
B1+ 150 to 180 h350 to 400 h
3 more rows

Which country has no IELTS? ›

Apart from this, many European countries like Germany, Holland, and Norway also allow international students to apply to their universities without giving IELTS.

Can I get visa without IELTS? ›

Yes, you can get a visa without IELTS. You just need to submit the documents from the university you have been admitted to, certifying that you are eligible for a study visa without IELTS.

Is France good for international students? ›

France is an excellent choice for any international student. It is a welcoming country with an interesting and diverse culture. It also has many specialist schools that are internationally renowned, such as fashion schools and business schools.

Can I settle in France after study? ›

To apply for PR in France, you need to study a master's program from reputed universities or business schools. After that, you have to apply for the APS Visa, which allows you to stay in France for 2 years. During the period, you need to find a preferable job under CDI contract.

Which city of France is best education? ›

The top 10 best student cities in France
  • Toulouse.
  • Rennes.
  • Montpellier.
  • Strasbourg.
  • Grenoble.
  • Lyon.
  • Bordeaux.
  • Nantes.
23 Sept 2022

Is French good for Career? ›

The knowledge to speak French is a career asset for finding a job in various industries. Some of them are travel & tourism, hospitality industry, MNC, BPO, KPO, Embassies, fashion, retailing, automotive, luxury goods, aeronautics, international business, education institutions, and export firms.

What are 5 benefits of taking French? ›

10 good reasons to learn French
  • A world language. ...
  • A language for the international job market. ...
  • The language of culture. ...
  • A language for travel. ...
  • A language for higher education. ...
  • The other language of international relations. ...
  • A language that opens up the world. ...
  • A language that is fun to learn.

How many years is French course? ›

The duration of a French course is from 3 to 4 years at the graduate level, 2 years at the postgraduate level, 1 year for diploma courses, and anywhere between a few hours to a few months for certificate courses.

What is the hardest part of French? ›

Prickly Pronunciation

Without a doubt, the hardest part of learning French is the pronunciation. Written French and spoken French seem worlds apart at first, since there are a number of rules that dictate when certain letters are not pronounced, or words are suddenly squashed together.

Is French easier than Germany? ›

Nitty-gritty things like these can make getting started a bit of a challenge – but between the two, French will be a little easier, with (slightly) fewer endings to learn. That said, experts largely agree that the more German you learn, the easier it gets, while French gets more complicated the deeper you dive in.

How many hours should I study French? ›

French is a Category I language, so it's relatively easy to learn for native English speakers. It will take approximately 580 hours or 23 weeks of study to reach complete French fluency.

What are the benefits of studying in France? ›

Campus France highlights the 10 good reasons to study in France, including:
  • Attractive tuition rates in France.
  • Quality higher education adapted to students' needs.
  • Outstanding research and development opportunities.
  • France is a world-class economic power.
17 Dec 2021

Which one is more useful French or German? ›

If “useful” is about the sheer number of people you'll be able to converse with, French beats German easily. There are 267 million French speakers in the world, compared to 155 million German speakers. In terms of career opportunities, French and German are both very in-demand as business languages.

Is it cheaper to study in Canada or France? ›

Average budget in Canada vs.

Overall, the cost for training and courses can vary widely. For example, an undergraduate year at Seneca College costs about $11,000 whereas you would have to spend up to $50,000 to study at the University of Toronto. In France, fees at private institutions average €15,000 per year.

How long is a French school day? ›

Generally speaking, the school day in France is from 8:30 until 4:30, but it varies depending on which area you live in. This is longer than the typical school day in the UK or America, but there is a longer lunch break and two other breaks during the day. There are 24 hours of lessons a week.

How is student life in France? ›

Students attending a university in France are introduced in their everyday student life in France to the breathtaking French culture. While studying in France, students can look forward to a marvelously interactive environment that brings students from around the globe together.

Do students in France get paid? ›

Remember that you can't expect to meet all of your expenses by working part-time, so you must have other means of support. When you work in France, if you are a student or not, you are guaranteed a minimum wage by law. It is commonly called the SMIC (Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance - the minimum wage).

Which country is best study? ›

See the best countries for studying abroad below.
The Top Countries for Studying Abroad
  • United States. #1 in Study Abroad Rankings. ...
  • United Kingdom. #2 in Study Abroad Rankings. ...
  • France. ...
  • Italy. ...
  • Spain. ...
  • Japan. ...
  • Canada. ...
  • Germany.

Which country is best at study? ›

1. USA. For decades, the US has reigned supreme as the world's most popular study abroad destination. The country's prestigious institutions dominate global university rankings, attracting students from across the world with an appetite for academic excellence.

Can I study abroad with 40%? ›

Answer: Yes it is possible to study abroad even if you don't have so good grades. Language schools abroad accept students on any level, and there are also other schools like American Community Colleges that accept students with lower grades.

Which country study is free? ›

Nordic nations Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden all offer opportunities to study free or at low cost: In Norway, university study is available free of charge to all students, regardless of study level or nationality.

How much is a student visa in France? ›

How Much Does a French Visa Cost?
Visa typeFees in EuroFees in Dollars
Short Stay8088.43
Short stay visa for French Overseas Department or Region8088.43
Short stay visa for French Overseas Territories1516.70
Student Visa5055.60
5 more rows

How much student can earn in France? ›

As of January 1st, 2021, the minimum SMIC wage in France is 10.25 EUR. There are some mandatory social security contributions have to be deducted (around 20%) from this gross salary to determine actual earnings (i.e. 8.20 EUR/hour). A student working 10 hours a week at minimum wage will earn approximately 82 EUR net.

Can I study in English in France? ›

France welcomes all international students, including those who do not yet speak French. In France, higher education institutions, including universities, offer study courses in English.

Can a foreigner study in France? ›

Campus France, a public agency attached to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, is responsible for promoting French higher education around the world and welcoming foreign students and researchers to France.

Should I study in France or Italy? ›

Both France and Italy provide excellent studying facilities, courses, universities, and other attractive options for international students. But both the countries have different education systems and cultural experiences including job opportunities, placement, cost of studying, and more.

What level of French is required for France immigration? ›

French Language Requirements for residence and Citizenship. The France government has now made it mandatory for anyone wishing to acquire the French nationality to have at least a level B1 in French of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

What level of French is required for French immigration? ›

In order to be eligible for French citizenship, you need to demonstrate a level B1 of French in both speaking and writing. The addition of the writing component is a recent change that came into effect in August 2020. There are a few exemptions to this language requirement.

Is B1 or B2 higher French? ›

Upper IntermediateB2
Master or ProficientC2
1 more row

DO YOU NEED A levels to study in France? ›

1.2 Entry requirements for French universities

Therefore, generally speaking, A-level passes are all that is required for entry to a public French university. If you are applying for a course that is taught in French you will also need to prove you can speak the language to an acceptable level.

Does a baby born in France get citizenship? ›

If one of the 2 parents is foreigners but was born in France, the child born in France is French by birth. In addition, a child is French if at least one of its 2 parents is French. The legal representative date and sign the declaration of French nationality.

Can I live in France permanently? ›

If you arrive in France from 2023 onwards (on a long stay visitor visa) and you decide that you want to live permanently in France, then you are still able to apply for French Residency.

Is getting PR in France hard? ›

The pathway for France PR is not as difficult as it looks. During your stay in France, make sure to pay all the taxes like other countries and ensure the government that you are not making any offense or criminal activities.

Is it hard to get citizenship in France? ›

It's not an incredibly straightforward process - and it is clearly not an option available for everyone. It is only applicable to those who were born on French soil, who were born to French parents, who have lived in France for five years, or who are married to a French spouse.

What is A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2? ›

Explanation of language levels A1 to C2. The three broad levels are A1/A2 ("Basic User"), B1/B2 ("Independent User"), and C1/C2 ("Proficient User"). Let's take a look at what you should be able to communicate at the various levels set out by CERF. Language learning levels explained from A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 to C2.

How many hours is A2 to B1 French? ›

LevelCan be reached through ... hours of studyTotal of study hours
A180 to 100 h80 to 100 h
A2+ 100 to 120 h180 to 200 h
B1+ 150 to 180 h350 to 400 h
B2+ 200 to 250 h600 to 650 h
2 more rows

Is A2 a good French level? ›

Your level is level is A2 on the european scale (CEFR). It's a ELEMENTARY, or BASIC level, you have some vocabulary and can get simple things done in French.

What is the best subject to study in France? ›

Some of the popular courses in France for international students are Business courses, Culinary, History, Data Sciences etc. Many subject experts hail from France. Thus, making it one of the top student destinations of the world.

Is France affordable to study? ›

Is France study cost expensive? Ans: No, the cost of university in France is cheaper when compared to other countries. Most French universities charge the same fees as European students, making it much cheaper for international students.

Can I study in Paris without speaking French? ›

Yes, you can study in France, without speaking French. Universities in France offer several courses that are taught entirely in English to attract more international students.


1. French University System |
3. French school System - (in French with subtitles)
4. The French Education System, Diplomas, Grading System, International Exchange/Erasmus, Exams, etc.
5. Study in France Series-Session 4-Structure of French Education System
(Research Story 5W-1H Studio)
6. Study in France with the most exclusive French Education search engine
(Diplomeo International)
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