Higher education in France offers various degree programs for students. There is no shortage of options. To study abroad in France, you should first get familiar with the French university system and all required qualifications. Firstly, to access higher education in France you should usually hold a baccalaureate (le BAC). This exam is equivalent of British A levels or the US High School Diploma. Secondly, there is a wide choice of higher education, such as grandes ecoles, universities, schools of art or architecture and many more.
Higher Education in France : elite institutions
France has a high number of elite institutions called grandes ecoles. They are the most prestigious higher education institutions in France, creating many politicians, top civil servants and scientists. For example, the Ecole Polytechnique and Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS) are listed the highest in the world rankings. In fact, these grandes ecoles are public and private institutions recognised by the State, however admission is very selective. Only a few hundred students are admitted to each of the grandes ecoles every year. Students wishing to enter need to take a two-year preparatory course (CPGE – Classes preparatoires aux grandes ecoles) followed by a highly competitive nationwide exam. Then, they conclude three to five years of study. Moreover, it is important to know that tuition and fees are higher than for university.
Higher Education in France : universities
Most of universities in France are public and financed by the French State. Indeed, everyone who has le BAC or equivalent can enrol in first year. It is the reason why university programmes cover all the areas of learning and research, like science, literature, languages, arts, humanities, medicine and sport. These institutes of higher education are located all around France and provide national degrees (Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate).
Higher Education in France : specialised schools and institutions
Another option of a higher education in France are specialised schools and institutes with specific programmes. First, they can be public as well as private. Next, these organisations offer courses in specific sectors, such as medicine, audio-visual, communication, journalism, fashion and design, agronomy, political science and many more. Finally, degrees and certificates may or may not be recognised by the State and admission is based on a competitive entry exam or the applicant’s file. Education there usually takes two to five years.
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