As an international student, we understand how confusing it can get when it comes to choosing a school especially when there are so many great options.
To this effect, we have done our research and have selected the best universities in France for international students.
Undoubtedly, studying in France gives an amazing university life experience as France is the world’s most popular tourist destination.
However, selecting one out of the many options will no longer pose any form of stress after reading this article. Subsequently, you will get information on not just the best school for you, but how much it will cost to study in France.
Also, you will be in the know of how many years you may spend on a degree program. Interestingly, you will also find out if you can work and earn some cool cash while studying in universities in France.
The higher education system in France is one of the best all over the world. It is also one that anyone can easily have access to. The low tuition fees make studying in France more affordable for international students.
Universities in France always rank amongst the best of renowned universities every year. The education which the institutions offer competes with the education of other countries.
Why Study in Any of the Best Universities in France?
France has one of the best higher education systems in Europe and the world. Some of the best universities in France include École Normale Supérieure and École Polytechnique. The country also has some of the best-ranked elite business schools in Europe.
The cost of education at public universities in France is relatively cheap. Citizens and permanent residents of EEA countries and Switzerland do not pay tuition fees; the only payment is an immatriculation charge of around 200 euros per year.
However, students from outside Europe pay around €3,000 to €4,000 every year at public universities. The tuition fees at private universities are usually €20,000 annually.
On the other hand, studying in France will help you to learn how to communicate in French. This new language will help you to speak to around 270 million people in almost 30 countries.
Even though the standard of living in France is high, studying in France is usually a great and life-changing experience for anyone.
If you prefer the busy urban environment, quiet mountains, or the relaxed atmosphere on the Mediterranean shore, you will find a place where you can cool off your head.
Finally, the French language is also one of the challenges for anyone that plans to stay after graduation in France.
For you to find a job, you must have to be fluent or at least near-fluent in French. If you compare France to other European countries, it is always easy for international students to start their careers in France after graduation.
What Requirements Do I Need to Study in any of the Best Universities in France?
You can start by getting an application form from the website of your chosen institution. However, you can apply to a maximum of three institutions for a given academic session.
Fill out your personal details and provide transcripts of prior diplomas and the results. The essence of this is to check whether your results match the course’s admission standards.
In some cases, you may be required to provide standardized tests results such as the GRE, GMAT or LSAT.
Remember that these are internationally used tests that ensure that applicants are ready for the challenges of advanced study.
Some courses will also need you to provide a test of language proficiency if you are an international student, and you are undertaking your degree in the ‘demande d’admission préalable’.
You can apply to take this test at the French embassy in your home country. Applicants to the Grandes Écoles are chosen based on results obtained at the end of a two-year preparatory course called ‘Classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles’.
Every institution has its own basis for the application. So, ensure that you do the relevant research on the university’s website and submit your application there.
In summary, below is a list of all the things that you may need to think about when applying to a university in France:
- A Campus France authorization
- A copy of your passport
- A passport photograph
- Copies of past exam transcripts and graduation diplomas
- A copy of your European health card (for EU students)
- Many colleges charge a fee to submit an application
- A civil liability certificate
- A cover letter
- French and/or English proof of language proficiency
- Proof of financial resources to fund your stay in France
How Much Will it Cost me to Study at the Best Graduate Universities in France?
The French government determines the tuition fees at public universities in France and is the same across the country.
Below are the tuition fees for citizens and permanent residents of countries within the EEA:
However, the tuition fees for every other international student will now be higher for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The new tuition fees for international students are:
NOTE: The tuition fees above are only for public universities in France. The tuition fees at private universities can be higher than that of public universities. The tuition fees for private universities in France generally range from 3,000 to 20,000 euros each year.
Do I Need to Pay for a French student visa?
If you’re an international student from outside the European Union, you may need the VLS-TS visa (“étudiant”).
This visa has so many benefits. The benefits include accommodation to live and study in France, the opportunity to work up to 964 hours per year (20 hours per week), and free travel in the countries of the Schengen area.
The cost of applying for the VLS-TS visa is €99. You will pay for this only when you have been accepted by the school.
Also, you will need it before you can travel to France for your studies. The moment you arrive in France, you will have to validate the visa within 3 months. This will actually cost you an additional €60.
Can I Work While Studying in the Best Graduate universities in France?
All international students have the right to work while studying in France. The same right applies to students that are citizens in France. If you are not a citizen of the European Union, you must have a student resident permit. French law approves foreign students to an auxiliary work of 964 hours during the year.
Students and non-students that work in France, are guaranteed a minimum wage by law. It is usually called the SMIC (Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance – the minimum wage). As of early 2018, it was €9.76 gross per hour. The wage is gross in which you will have to subtract compulsory social charges (about 20%) to know how much you will take home: €7.61/hour. If you work 10 hours a week for the minimum wage, your wage will be about 78€ net.
In France, international students may also work in their host institutions. The work lasts at most twelve months. That is from September 1st to August 31st. In order to help students find a job, students’ work in a university is based on their timetables and classes. Similarly, students who work in French universities may not work above 670 hours from September 1st to June 30th, and no more than 300 hours from July 1st to August 31st.
What Are the Best Universities in France for Master’s Degree Students?
France which is home to some of the top universities in the world offers various master’s degree programs in several fields of study. This advanced degree actually enables a student to further their academic and professional qualifications.
The best universities for master’s degree study in France are as follows:
The Best Universities in France for International Students in 2022
In this section, we have outlined the best universities in France for undergraduate international students. These universities include:
#1. Paris Sciences et Letters Research University
Université Paris Sciences et Lettres is a collegiate university in Paris that was founded in 2010. PSL is presently organized as a ComUE and the university is made up of 9 members. It actually has ten associates and gets support from three national research entities.
On the other hand, PSL’s main aim is to establish itself as one of the best research institutions in the world.
Research is high profile at the university and it runs around 181 specialized laboratories and cutting-edge research facilities. Some of the universities which PSL has international collaborations with include the University of Cambridge, Columbia University, and Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.
Address: 60 Rue Mazarine, 75006 Paris, France
#2. Ecole Polytechnique
This is a public institution of higher learning and research in Palaiseau, a suburb based in the south of Paris. Ecole Polytechnique is one of the leading prestigious French grandes écoles in engineering.
The school has about 30 percent of international students, with one Spanish student explaining that international students receive special attention and preparatory programs. Also, the university offers an interdisciplinary approach, making available a curriculum that combines undergraduate programs with graduate research across a range of disciplines.
On the other hand, undergraduate admission needs two years of preparation during high school before a week of written exams which is thereafter followed by an oral examination.
Students that are citizens are required to serve in the military service for a period of eight months in their first year since the institution is officially run by the Ministry of Defence.
Address: Route de Saclay, 91120 Palaiseau, France
#3. Sorbonne University
Sorbonne University is a public research university in Paris, France that was founded in 2018 by the merger of Paris-Sorbonne University, Pierre et Marie Curie University, and with smaller institutions. This school has three faculties which include: Humanities, Science, and Medicine.
The institution is home to eight notable scientific collections that are open to researchers. Some of the collections are also open to the public like the minerals, paleontology, and zoology collections.
Address: 15-21 Rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006 Paris, France
#4. University of Paris
The University of Paris is a public university in Paris, France. It is amongst the oldest universities in the world and it has a high reputation for the humanities ever since the middle ages. Actually, the institution is divided into a series of thirteen autonomous institutions that are governed by its main body.
These include the Paris-Sorbonne University and the Panthéon University, each of which tends to have their own particular domain of studies such as natural sciences or social sciences. It is further connected to about 13 Nobel Laureates as well as several other scientists, intellectuals, government officials, and religious figures.
Popular majors include Law, Education, Business & Economics, Medicine & Dentistry, Psychology, Life Sciences, and Computer Science.
#5. Télécom Paris
Telecom ParisTech is a public university of research in Paris, France that was founded in 1878. This school is one of the best graduate universities in France majorly in the field of engineering.
ParisTech has approximately 1400 students and it offers courses at both an undergraduate and graduate level. Also, about 35 percent of the student population are foreign students who come to study from across the world.
All courses offered by Paris Tech cover the fields of communication engineering and information technology as well as Economics and Finance.
Address: 19 Place Marguerite Perey, 91120 Palaiseau, France
#6. École Normale Supérieure de Lyon
ENS Lyon is a highly selective university in Lyon that was established in 1987. It is a member of the prestigious Grande Écoles network. Academically, the institution operates through 11 main departments governed by the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities.
Popular majors include Computer Science, Education, Geology, Environmental, Earth & Marine Sciences, Mathematics & Statistics, Physics & Astronomy, Chemistry, History, Philosophy & Theology Languages, Literature & Linguistics Art, and Performing Arts & Design
Address: 15 parvises René Descartes, 69342 Lyon, France
#7. Paris-Sud University
Université Paris-Sud is one of the most prestigious universities in France. The institution has 82 internationally-renowned laboratories. It has 32,000 students, of whom 2,400 are doctoral program students while 5,000 are international students. It employs 4,300 teacher-researchers and researchers and 3,100 members of engineering, technical and administrative staff.
This institution which is amongst the best universities in France also boasts an extensive choice of academic programs at Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate level, but also in technological training.
Address: 15 Rue Georges Clemenceau, 91400 Orsay, France
#8. École des Ponts ParisTech
This is an institution of higher education and research that gives university-level teaching for students in the sciences, technology, and engineering. It was established in 1747 and it has a student population of about 2000 students.
Admission to the Bachelor’s in engineering program is very competitive and the institution tends to admit the top 4% of the graduating high school class. Also, the school offers a lot of Masters’s and Doctoral courses. It also has an international partnership with Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, Imperial College London, and the National University of Singapore which helps students to acquire an accredited double degree.
Address: 6-8 Avenue Blaise Pascal, 77420 Champs-sur-Marne, France
#9. Aix-Marseille University
This is a public research university located in the region of Provence, southern France that was established in 1409. Aix-Marseille University is the largest French-speaking university in the world with a population of over 74,000 students. It is, however, organized into a series of 5 main campuses spread throughout the region.
Popular majors include:
Some of the notable alumni include four Nobel prizewinners (J. M. G. Le Clézio, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature), several heads of state, film-makers and actors such as Jean Renoir and Bradley Cooper.
Address: Jardin du Pharo, 58 Boulevard Charles Livon, 13007 Marseille, France
#10. Grenoble Alpes University
The Université Grenoble Alpes is a public research university in Grenoble, France that was established in 1339. Actually, the university has about 45,000 students and over 3,000 researchers making it the third-largest in the country.
Grenoble Alpes University’s main fields of expertise are engineering and natural sciences. UGA offers courses through 23 departments of study and operates around 110 different research units.
Some of the notable alumni of the school include former President of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye and former First Lady of the US, Jacqueline Kennedy.
The subjects taught at UGA are Engineering & Technology, Law, Business & Economics, Life Sciences, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, Arts & Humanities, Medicine & Dentistry, and Psychology.
Address: 621 Avenue Centrale, 38400 Saint-Martin-d’Hères, France
#11. Montpellier University
This is a public research university in Montpellier in the southeast of France that was founded in 1289. This school which is amongst the best graduate universities in France is one of the oldest universities in the world.
Popular majors at this institution include:
Address: 34090 Montpellier, France
#12. IMT Atlantique
This institution which is one of the best universities for international students in France is a leading engineering school. It was actually established on January 1, 2017, by the merger of the École Nationale supérieure des mines de Nantes and Telecom Bretagne. IMT Atlantique has three campuses and one site in Brest, Nantes, Rennes, and Toulouse.
The university is amongst the 210 French engineering schools that have the approval to award engineering diplomas, under the Ministry of Industry and the digital sector.
Also, many students at this school are on the generalist engineering program. This program includes at least eight months of training in a company, and a minimum of nine weeks must be spent abroad through an academic term or internship.
The subjects which this institution does are:
#13. Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
UVSQ is a public university in France that was founded in 1991. This institution has about 20,000 students located in the Southwestern suburb of Paris, where there are internationally known businesses like Renault, PSA, Dassault, CNRS, INRA, and CEA.
Subjects that are taught at UVSQ include:
Address: 55 Avenue de Paris, 78000 Versailles, France
#14. University of Bordeaux
The University of Bordeaux which is amongst the best universities in France was established in 1441. This school has about 56,000 students, of which approximately 2,000 students are doing Ph.D. while 7,200 are international students. Also, the institution has about 5,900 staff members, of which 3,200 are academic and research staff.
On the other hand, the University of Bordeaux has eleven departments. They include:
- Social sciences of contemporary changes
- Evaluation, behavior, organization
- Law and social transformations
- Bordeaux Neurocampus
- Biological and medical sciences
- Public health
- Health sciences and technologies
- Environmental sciences
- Engineering and digital sciences
- Material and light sciences
- Archeological sciences
Three of the Graduate Research Programs have been launched within the domains of Neuroscience, Digital public health, and Light sciences and technologies.
Address: 146 Rue Léo Saignat, 33076 Bordeaux, France
#15. Centrale Nantes
Centrale Nantes is a top engineering school that was founded in 1919 under the name of Institut Polytechnique de l’Ouest in France. There are more than 2,000 students, with about 30 percent of the population coming from international students. Any student that joins the first year of the engineering program usually gets a place in the Max Schmitt Residence on campus.
Centrale Nantes has six laboratories which are located around 11 main areas where research is done. The laboratories include ocean engineering, computer science & automation, robotics, and energy.
Three master’s degree programs at Central Nantes have been awarded the Erasmus Mundus label. The programs are the European Master in Advanced Robotics (EMARO), the Master of Science in Computational Mechanics, and EM SHIP Advanced Design.
Address: 1 Rue de la Noë, 44300 Nantes, France
FAQs on the Best Graduate Universities in France for International Students
Yes. In fact, the French government announced that they would increase the availability of scholarships together with the new higher tuition fees. The official CampusBourses tool offers an overview of grants scholarships to study in France.
You will have to pay the whole annual tuition fee at the beginning of an academic year. That is by September each year.
Normally, most institutions set their application deadlines between February and April for degrees starting in autumn of the same year. However, in line with the most recent reforms for international students, things may be managed differently from now onwards. We advise that you consult with the universities to which you’re applying to in order to be very sure.
Yes, you can. If you take courses about learning French or if you take courses that are taught in English, then you don’t need to know French.
If you wish for a long-stay visa for France, the application fee is 99€. If you want a national long-stay student visa for France, the application fee is 50€.
Studying in some of the best universities in France is really interesting. Even though public institutions in France are cheap, there also scholarship opportunities that are open to students. Examples of such are the Erasmus Mundus scholarship and the SciencesPo Emile-Boutmy Scholarship which is awarded to the best international students.
The reasons to study in France are so many. Paris which is the capital of France is ranked as the best city to study in. Also, the country has some of the best business and engineering schools in the world where you can acquire your degree.
In addition, students have the opportunity to learn French while some students even take classes in English even in the heart of Paris. These students are open to great job opportunities thanks to a thriving network of partnerships between top companies and institutions of higher education.
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