The lovely and sophisticated France attracts around 300,000 international students from both EU and non-EU countries each year. A viable reason for Frances popularity is that universities have lower tuition fees compared to other European countries. If you dream of studying in France yourself, you are probably curious to know more about the application process within a French university.
Tips before applying
- In some universities, you have the online application option.
- Standardized tests, such as the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT are required for admission to most of the undergraduate and graduate degree courses.
- A good idea would be for you to apply to at least three different institutions in order to increase your chances.
- Check if you need a study visa. If you are coming from a non-EU, non-EEA country, you will have to apply for a visa after being admitted to a university.
- View scholarship opportunities in France.
Steps during the application process
The application procedure is actually different depending on the country you come from.
1. Check if you need a visa. EU and EEA students can simply apply directly at the university, under the same conditions as French students.
2. Non EU/EEA students should apply through an online application system called CEF. Through the CEF system, you may also apply for your visa online and track the progress of your application.
3. For registering and applying through the CEF system, you will have to visit the website of the Campus France office in your country.
4. You will also be required to pass the compulsory Preliminary Admission ("demande dadmission préalable" - DAP).
You can apply for DAP at the Culture and Cooperation Service of the French embassy in your home country. Through the DAP process, you will be required to provide evidence of your level of knowledge of the French language or you can register to take the TCF (French language exam); applications for TCF are usually open from October until February 22).
5. If you reside in a country not represented by Campus France, then you must submit a White File (Dossier blanc) to the Department of Cooperation and Cultural Action of the French Embassy in your country of origin.
6. If you are already living in Europe but you dont have European citizenship, you will have to apply through the French embassy or consulate in the European country where you are residing.
Exemptions from DAP
- Children of diplomats posted in France and who themselves currently live in France;
- Candidates coming from a partner university with a cooperation agreement (special procedures apply);
- Students with a scholarship from the French government, an international organisation or a government of a foreign country and for which the scholarship is handled by a recognised French organisation;
- Candidates holding a French, International, European, French-German, French-Italian or a French-Spanish baccalaureate
Different application at technological universities, Grandes Écoles, and other specialized schools
If you consider applying in this particular higher educational institutions, you will have to use an online system for preliminary admission at the following website: http://www.admission-postbac.fr/
You should apply via the website Admission Post-Bac (APB) from 20th January to 20th March. An extra application period is usually open from 26th June to 15th September, but during this period, applications will not be possible for every study programme.
Unlike universities, applicants will also have to take on a personal interview.
The grandes écoles, in particular, apply a high standard admission process. Applicants must hold a baccalauréat or equivalent diploma and they are selected according to the results obtained at very competitive entrance examinations that take place at the end of a two-year preparation programme called "Classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles" (CPGE - Preparatory classes for Grandes Écoles).
Language requirements for studies at universities and colleges in France
Check the French language requirement with your chosen French university, as it usually varies depending on the study programme. In general, you are expected to have a level of command of the French language corresponding to B1/B2 in the European Language Passport. Accepted language tests are DELF and DALF.
Exemptions from the requirement to demonstrate proficiency in the French language:
- Holders of the French baccalauréat, the international or European baccalauréat, and the Franco-German baccalauréat
- International recipients of scholarships from the French government, international organizations, or foreign governments whose grants are administered by an approved French entity
- Nationals of states where French is the official language
- Students graduating from bilingual programs in which French was one of the languages
- Nationals of states in which final examinations for graduation from secondary school are conducted primarily in French.
You can find several English-taught degree programmes available in many universities from France. Unless you are a native English speaker, you will be required an internationally recognized test, such as TOEIC, TOEFL or IELTS.
Required application documents
- Prior admission or pre-registration certificate provided by the university
- Campus France authorization
- Passport or ID card (valid for the duration of your stay)
- ID/passport type photos
- Copies of graduation diplomas and their French translation
- Registration fee (185 EUR/a year for the three-year licence (Bachelor degree equivalent) course, 260 EUR for a Masters and 390 EUR for a doctorate)
- Social security fees (around 200 EUR)
- A civil liability certificate
- Students from the EU: a copy of your European health insurance card
- Resume (only in some cases, and only for postgraduate degrees)
- Cover letter
- French and/or English Language certificate (depending on tuition language of chosen degree)
- Transcript of records
- Copies of diplomas (if not available, a certificate stating that you graduated)
- Proof that you can fund your stay in France (with a minimum of 800 euros per month)
In the cover letter/personal statement (should not exceed 500 words) you will have to describe and explain reasons why you applied for a certain programme and how it is related to your career goal.
Usually, official transcripts should state a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA (grade point average) or equivalent.
University application deadlines
Application for French universities are available twice a year:
- fall admission by 1 February and 1 April (in some cases, after this date as well, based on available spaces)
- spring admission by September 15, and after this date, based on available spaces
- You should apply via the website Admission Post-Bac (APB) from 20th January to 20th March. An extra application period is usually open from 26th June to 15th September, but during this period, applications will not be possible for every study programme.
- Applications for TCF during DAP process are usually open from October until February 22.
Receive the acceptance letter
- Institutions inform students of their admission decisions between June 15 and September 15 for programmes beginning in October. Thus, you will only have around a month to prepare all the arrangements for your departure to France.
- If you a non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizen, you will have to apply for a student visa.
- You will need a residence permit if you plan to study more than six months in France.
- You will have to cover your health insurance: if you are from EU, it is sufficient if you hold a European health insurance card (that is valid for one year); if you are non-EU, under 28 years old and follow a degree course that takes longer than four months, then you are eligible for the national health insurance offered in France.