Study in France

Higher Education in France

France is currently the fourth most popular study destination in the world, and it's no wonder with its excellent culture, highly rated university system and the draw of relatively low tuition. Each year, close to 300,000 students travel to France for the sole purpose of studying in its schools.

The higher education system in France can be a little confusing. The system is being standardized into a three-level system, which makes it a little easier to understand. Today, undergraduate students will begin by pursuing a License, which is similar to a bachelor's degree. This is followed by master level training. The final level of training is the doctorat. The license takes three years to complete, with two years necessary for a master program. A doctorat program usually requires three additional years.

France's universities are state-funded, so tuition is not high. Plan to spend about €200-€400 per year, depending on the studies you are pursuing and the university you attend. The exception to this are French business schools. Most business schools are privately owned, and tuition can be over €15,000 a year.

France has fairly open enrollment for first-year undergraduate programs. However, after the first year, students will need to pass a series of exams, which can be highly competitive, to find a place as second-year students. The country also has a system of selective schools called "Grandes Écoles", which only select students are chosen for, and these have selective entrance exams, higher tuition and more prestige.

The academic year in France begins in late September, with a spring semester starting in early February. Holidays are held during Christmas and New Years, as well as All Saints' Day and Easter. Most schools also have a spring break and three months of summer holiday.

Upon graduation, many students go on to pursue scientific study programs. These one- to three-month programs can be subsidized through a high-level scientific study program grant, which covers travel costs, tuition and living expenses.

Visa Requirements

If you are coming to study in France from a country in the European Union, you will not need to apply for a student visa. If your home country is outside the EU, then you will need to visit a French consulate to get a student visa prior to traveling to the country. Your visa will serve as proof of your residency status during your first year of study. After a year, you will need to apply for a Carte de Sejour. Also, you will need to register with the local immigration office within 30 days of your arrival in the country.


Because of the lost cost of tuition and high interest by international students, you will want to make your plans for studying in France early. While entrance to the universities will not be much of a difficulty if you are a first-year student, finding housing and getting your paperwork in order takes some time. If you need financial aid, you will want to apply for a study or course grant as well.

As you prepare to study in France, you will be among some of the world's top thinkers. You'll have the opportunity to study in halls that were once graced by names like Sartre, Durkheim or Marie Curie. While the process of applying to the universities and working through the red tape can be daunting, in the end you will receive a quality education at a surprisingly affordable price, making the effort well worth taking.

About France 

France, officially the French Republic, is a unitary semi-residential republic located mostly in Western Europe, with several overseas regions and territories. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. From its shape, it is often referred to in French as l’Hexagone ("The Hexagon").

France is one of the key players in the European political and economic game. Serving as the border between the Iberian Peninsula and the mainland of Europe, France has long been a cultural focal point in Europe. Paris, in particularly, is the height of the fashion industry, and many of the world's leading fashion influences come from Parisian fashion houses. The country has also produced some of the world's most celebrated writers, including names like Rousseau and Voltaire. With its connections to Germany, France served as one of the leaders in uniting Europe and starting the European Union.

In addition to fashion and writing, France is known for its culinary tradition. Over 250 different varieties of cheese come from within its borders, and wine lovers know they can turn to France for delicate, delicious wines.

Whether you are considering France for its culinary heritage, artistic flair or simply because you want to experience the culture of a new location, you will find a variety of factors to draw you towards studying in this leading European country. Because France appeals to so many foreign students, life at the university is rich in cultural diversity. Culturally enlightening experiences are easy to find in France. Museums, particularly those in Paris, allow EU residents who are students under the age of 26 free entrance. Student cardholders will also find discounts on transportation, food and entertainment.

Climate in France
France has a mild climate highly influenced by the Mediterranean. The comfortable year-round temperatures and plentiful sunshine mean ample opportunities for time spent outdoors. In the mountains, you will find plenty of snow for weekend ski trips and sledding, while Nice and Cannes offer the potential to swim starting in the early spring. In the summer, you can find hot, beach weather in many parts of the country, while the mountains offer cooler, comfortable temperatures for a hike. 

Cost of Living and Housing
The cost of living in France is on par with that of most European countries. However, Paris, where many top universities are located, has a much higher cost of living. Also, finding housing in Paris can be difficult, because of the high population density. If you know you will be studying in Paris, find your housing early, before the early fall scramble for available places. 

Many students opt to live in the Cite Universitaire Internationale de Paris, a large residence location in southern Paris. Spaces are limited, so if you wish to stay here, apply a year before you plan to stay. 

If you will be studying outside Paris, you will likely find subsidized accommodations on the campus or near the university designed specifically for foreign students. The national student welfare office (CNOUS) also subsidizes dormitories for foreign students, which may be an option for affordable housing.


If you are an EU national, or national from the EEA, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you do not require a visa to study in France. If you are a national from anywhere else in the world, you will need to obtain a student visa for France. You need to have secured a place on a course at a French educational institution before applying for a visa. 

There are different types of student visas, depending on how long you plan to study in France:

  • Visa de court séjour pour etudes (‘Schengen’ short-stay student visa) - If your studies will last less than three months. It is issued free of charge and cannot be renewed. 41 countries may not need a visa for a stay of less than three months.
  • Etudient concours (visa for sitting entrance exams) - On this visa, you can come to France to take an entrance exam at an institute of higher education. If you pass, then you can apply directly to your local prefecture (French local authority/administrative office) in France for a one-year, renewable residence permit.
  • Visa de long séjour temporaire pour etudes (temporary long-stay visa) - This visa allows you to study in France for between three and six months without the need for a residence permit. It is non-renewable.
  • Visa de long séjour etudes (long-stay visa) - If you want to study for longer than six months. This type of study visa lasts for the duration of your course in France. Long-stay visas act as residence permits and are called VLT-TS.
  • Extended stay research scholar visa - If you have a Master’s degree or higher and want to come to France to take part in research or teach at university level, then the institution can bring you over on an extended stay research scholar visa VLS-TS.

Some countries require you to register first with CampusFrance (, the French national agency for higher education and international students, in order to apply for admission and get a student visa through the CEF procedure. Otherwise, you should get your visa at the French embassy/consulate in your home country.

There is an official website for visa application to France: You can find an overview of the necessary documentation for your visa application there.

It can take up to two months for a Visa application to be approved, so you should submit all of the necessary information as quickly as possible before you plan to leave.

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