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Higher Education in France: how does it work?

French university education is one of the best university educations in the world and is also one of the most financially accessible. How are degrees organized in France? What are the particular features of French universities? 

How are degrees organized in France?

They are organized around a common European system (the bachelor-master-doctorate or “BMD” system) which has a set number of semesters which have been completed and their corresponding ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) value:

  • Bachelor’s/undergraduate degree = 6 semesters = 180 ECTS (3 years)
  • Master’s degree = 4 semesters = 120 ECTS  (2 years)
  • Doctorate = 6 semesters = 180 ECTS  (3 years)

Universities issue national qualifications which have the same value regardless of the issuing institution.

An engineering degree is a French national qualification that takes 5 years and the schools which issue them, such as the UTC, are accredited by the CTI (Commission des Titre d’Ingénieur - Committee for Engineering Qualifications). A similar accreditation process is in place for business and management schools such as INSEAD.