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Higher education in France

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 Titres d’Ingénieur - Committee for Engineering Qualifications).
A similar accreditation process is in place for business and management schools such as INSEAD.

42% of doctoral students in France are international students. This is the highest percentage in the world.

Students with master’s degrees are eligible to enroll for doctorates. 

In principle, training takes 3 years and ends with a thesis defense in order to obtain a doctorate. 

Campus France, Funding your doctorate (international co-tutoring on your thesis

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To study in Paris is to benefit from one of the best university educations in the world, but what budget will you need to live there? In Paris, international students can make use of numerous discounts and benefits. Here are a few ways to estimate your expenses.

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