French Education System

6 minute read
French Education System

Home to around 3,500 institutions of higher learning, France has become an attractive destination for overseas education. To study in Europe is to embrace a culturally stimulating atmosphere which the vibrant hub of France provides an interesting and striking blend of creative and artistic thinking complemented with the modern education system. The country provides a multitude of French and English language courses encouraging international student participation as well. If you are aspiring to study in France, here is a complete guide on the French education system what it offers to foreign students, its unique characteristics as well as the renowned universities offering a varied range of diploma and degree programs that you can choose from.

Study in France: What’s on Offer?

The academic year in France starts in the middle of September and extends up to the end of June in the successive year. Similar to the US, UK and India, the French education system also practices a cycle of compulsory pre-secondary education which is followed by undergraduate and further postgraduate and doctorate degrees. Moreover, the postgraduate degrees are divided into taught and research master’s and to pursue PhD courses, students need to complete their research master’s. Duration of courses may vary though largely a bachelor’s degree is offered for a duration of three years and master’s degree may run for one to four years. Further, the popular areas of interest in which programs are offered include nuclear, space, aviation, economics, pharmacology, sociology, linguistics, geography, amongst others.

French Education System: Overview

Putting a greater focus on education, the French government has made it compulsory for children belonging to the age bracket of six to sixteen to attend school education. Further, the school system is neatly divided into primary level (école), middle school (collège) and high school (lycée) roughly similar to the prevalent educational arrangement in India. After graduating from high school, students can choose to pursue higher education through various diploma routes as well. As a matter of fact, most of the educational institutions in France are public and therefore focus on providing quality education at an affordable cost.

Also Read: 

French Education System: Primary and Secondary Education

Primary education is concerned with the schooling of children between the ages of six to eleven with secondary education consisting of seven years of study. High school students attend the lycée for the last four years at the end of which, the students appear for the baccalaureate qualification which is quite similar to the US high school diploma though it is quite lengthy and extensive. 

French Education System: Higher Education

Under the French education system, there are two kinds of diplomas, namely Vocational Diploma and Academic Diploma. While the former focuses on technical education, academic diplomas are similar to the traditional bachelors and master’s degrees. Let’s take a look at these two diplomas in detail.

Vocational Diploma

Vocational diplomas are two-year technical degrees which are offered in either in the shape of a DUT (diplôme universitaire de technologie) or BTS (brevet de technicien supérieur). One major point of difference between them is that a DUT is offered by a high school whereas a BTS is a university-awarded course. Individuals can also earn a licence professionnelle by pursuing an additional year of study.

Academic Diploma

In the French education system, academic diplomas belong to three different categories:

  • Universities

Various institutions and universities in France offer academic diplomas relating to professional, academic and technical degrees. In order to study a bachelor’s degree in any of the French universities, applicants are required to possess a baccalaureate or its international equivalent. In the case of India, this implies completion of 10+2 schooling. They offer undergraduate, master’s as well as doctorate degrees.

Also Read: MBA in France

  • Grandes écoles
[optin-monster-shortcode id=”xf2mlnjiouddzrshykdb”]

A handful of public institutions are called Grandes Ecoles which provide specialised courses in copious disciplines such as Engineering, Business etc. Essentially similar to a university, Grandes écoles can be both public and private institutions. In order to be eligible for the admission test at these universities, an applicant needs to possess a baccalaureate as well as they should have completed two-year of intermediate preparatory study. Successful graduates of the university after the completion of their course are awarded with a master’s degree.

  • Specialised Schools

These are field or discipline-based public or private schools which offer professional courses at bachelor’s or master’s degree level. Fields generally include Arts, Tourism, Social Work, Architecture etc.

Several universities in France have been highly ranked and are considered amongst the top brass of world institutions. Here is a list of some popular academic institutions in France that are renowned for their quality programs:

Grading Scales

Grading Scale varies for different levels such as Baccalaureate, Bachelor’s Degree and Graduate scaling grades. The tables below will give you an idea of how the grading system works in France:


Changing Schools in France

You can change schools during the French school year. For changing schools, you must first contact the new school and make sure that there is a seat available. Once the new school accepts you, you can then signal this decision to the current school principal. You will then receive a document known as the certificate de radiation (certificate of cancellation), which will allow you to finalize the new enrollment.

Graduating in France

In France students must sit the Baccalaureate exams at the end of high school which assess all of their subject areas. Each subject is graded on a scale of zero to 20, and a grade of 10 is required to pass the exam. Around 75% to 80% of students currently leave high school with a Baccalaureate diploma and most go on to study at a French university. However, only 44% of students who enroll in university go on to complete a degree at a French University. Public Universities in France are open to all and international students are only required to possess a Baccalaureate or equivalent foreign high school diploma. Admission to the elite higher education institutions in France is highly competitive and students need to take oral and written exams. Furthermore, students need to completed 2 to 3 years of preparatory classes after high school.

Homeschooling in France

Until now, homeschooling was legal in France and parents merely needed to declare it to the authorities every year. However, as of the 2022 school year, a new law by the Government of France strictly limits to homeschooling in the France. As a result, parents wishing to homeschool their children will now have to get prior authorization and they’ll be granted permission only if they meet any of the following reasons:

  • Child’s state of health or disability
  • Child’s intensive practice of a sport or artistic activity
  • Family’s itinerant nature
  • Situation specific to the child that justifies this educational track

Also Read: French Language Course in Delhi

Hence, the French education system encourages intellectual development of individuals without compromising on educational commitments. If you are aspiring to pursue a course in France, take assistance from our expert counsellors at Leverage Edu and we’ll guide you in choosing the right program and university and aligns with your interests and career aspiration.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *



15,000+ students realised their study abroad dream with us. Take the first step today.
Talk to an expert