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You’re thinking about studying in France? Great, because in this article we’ll go over the whole admissions process for French universities.
In this post, I’ll be writing from the experience of Karolina, an international student from Lithuania.
This article is focused on bachelor’s (undergraduate) studies, and will approach admissions from an academics-focused student’s perspective.
Why study in France?
France is well known for its active student lifestyle and rich culture. It also houses some of the best universities in Europe. It has popular courses in STEM, art, economics, and international law.
France is also a great place to study due to the many opportunities it opens up, being the center of many international corporations. It’s regarded as one of the best countries in the world to study in, and has a diverse pool of international students.
I’ll use the word college to refer to academic institutions that provide bachelor’s programs. Keep in mind that bachelor’s programs are three years long in France.
French college admissions are specific because they differ significantly depending on where you’re from, which college you’re applying to, and which year of study you’re in. Here we’ll focus on first-year applicants.
Admissions go through a common system called Parcoursup for first-year applicants from the EU, through Etudes en France for students in selected countries, and everyone else must go through their country’s French embassy.
Admissions generally take place starting in November or December and ending in May. It’s best to start as early as possible to make up for bureaucratic delays.
It’s quite hard to find programs that are fully in English. French colleges encourage students to learn French through language courses by the end of their studies.
French universities often have entrance exams, and institutions called Grandes Ecoles are well-known for their highly competitive entrance exams.
Depending on the college, some can accept GMAT, SAT, ACT, or GRE test results, and some can require one or more of them. Make sure to check the website of the specific program you’re applying to.
If you’re going to take the ACT or the SAT, make sure to check out our article on US admissions, where we go through the tests and preparation tips.
If you’re applying to English programs, you’ll probably need to do an English proficiency test, which could be the TOEFL, IELTS or a Cambridge English exam. Make sure to consider what the minimum required scores are.
You might need to prove your French knowledge too, and common tests are the TCF (Test de connaissance du français – Test of knowledge of French), and Le TEF (Test d’évaluation de français – French assessment test).
Applications generally start in November and are sent by mid-January.
If your documents aren’t in French, you’ll probably need to get them translated by an official translator and certified by the institution that gave them to you.
The most commonly required documents are:
- Academic diplomas and transcripts, with translation
- English proficiency certificate
- Personal Statement
- Recommendation letters
- Test results (for certain programs)
Interviews are common for students applying to STEM programs. They’ll probably be online, and serve for the college to get to know you and your motivations better.
There are plenty of scholarships for international students in France, be it from the French government, foreign governments, the EU or specific colleges. These can be for students coming from specific countries or studying in specific areas. There isn’t a common way to apply for these scholarships, and your best bet is to browse Campus France’s grant search engine and check this list by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.
Application costs vary heavily, so make sure to have around €200 ready if anything comes up.
Tuition costs also depend heavily on where you’re from and which college you’re studying at. In public institutions where the French government covers most of the tuition, students who are from the EU or fulfill other special criteria pay a bachelor’s tuition of €170 per year, and most other people pay €2770 per year. Private institutions have tuitions ranging from €3,000 to €10,000 per year.
Accommodation costs range from about €3,000 to €10,000 per year depending on where you’re located and what kind of accommodation you’re in. The cheapest possible accommodation is owned by CROUS (Regional Centers of University and Academic Services), which have residences all around the country. There’s also APL (L’aide personnalisée au logement – Personalized accommodation aid) and ALS (L’allocation de logement sociale – Social housing allocation) which can help cover your accommodation costs.
Other living costs, including food, transportation, internet, electricity, and leisure, generally range from €300 to €500 a month.
Here are some resources to go from here:
- Campus France – the single most useful site for French admissions
- Association of Croatian Students Abroad, who are helping us with this series of guides. They have a website and a YouTube channel (sorry, Croatian only!)
Huge thanks to Karolina for helping me put together this guide.
Did I forget something? Do you have different experiences? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment.