Best Universities in France for International Students | Ranking

As international students, we understand how confusing it can get when choosing a school, especially when there are so many great options.

To this effect, we have researched and selected the best universities in France for international students.

Studying in France gives a fantastic university experience as France is the world’s most popular tourist destination.

However, after reading this article, selecting one of the many options will no longer pose any form of stress. Subsequently, you will get information on the best school for you and how much it will cost to study in France.

Also, you will know how many years you may spend in a degree program. Interestingly, you will also find out if you can work and earn some cool cash while studying at universities in France.

The higher education system in France is one of the best in 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 consistently rank amongst the best-renowned universities every year. The education which the institutions offer competes with the education of other countries.

Why Study at 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 yearly 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 an incredible 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 to cool off your head.

Finally, the French language is also one of the challenges for anyone that plans to stay in France after graduation.

To find a job, you must 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 at 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 three institutions for a given academic session.

Fill out your details and provide transcripts of prior diplomas and the results. This is to check whether your results match the course’s admission standards.

Sometimes, you may be required to provide standardized test results such as the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT.

Remember that these are internationally used tests that ensure applicants are ready for the challenges of advanced study.

Some courses will also need you to provide a language proficiency test if you are an international student 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 basis for the application. So, 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 apply.
  • A civil liability certificate
  • A cover letter
  • French and English proof of language proficiency
  • Proof of financial resources to fund your stay in France

Also read: 10 Best French Language Schools In France | 2023

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, which is the same across the country.

Below are the tuition fees for citizens and permanent residents of countries within the EEA:

  • €170 every year for Bachelor’s (Licence) programs
  • €243 per year for Master’s programs
  • €601 each year in Engineering courses at some institutions
  • €380 a year for Doctorate (Ph.D.) programs

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:

  • €2,770 a year for Bachelor’s (Licence) programs,
  • €3,770 each year for Master’s programs
  • €380 annually for Doctorate (Ph.D.) programs. Europeans will equally pay the same amount here.

NOTE: The tuition fees above are only for public universities in France. The tuition fees at private universities can be higher than public universities. The tuition fees for private universities in France generally range from 3,000 to 20,000 euros annually.

You can also read: Study in France: Top 10 Universities in Paris

Do I Need to Pay for a French student visa?

You may need the VLS-TS visa (“étudiant”) if you’re an international student outside the European Union.

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 the school has accepted you.

Also, you will need it before traveling to France for your studies. When you arrive in France, you must validate the visa within 3 months. This will cost you an additional €60.

Why not check this out: 15 Cheapest Universities in Paris for International Students

Can I Work While Studying at 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 of France. If you are not a citizen of the European Union, you must have a student resident permit. French law approves foreign students for extra 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. To help students find a job, students work in a university 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, home to some of the top universities in the world, offers various master’s degree programs in several fields of study. This advanced degree enables a student to further their academic and professional qualifications.

The best universities for master’s degree study in France are as follows:

  • Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris
  • Sorbonne University
  • École Polytechnique
  • University of Paris
  • Télécom Paris
  • École Normale Supérieure de Lyon
  • Paris-Sud University
  • École des Ponts ParisTech
  • Aix-Marseille University
  • Grenoble Alpes University
  • Montpellier University
  • IMT Atlantique

The Best Universities in France for International Students in 2023

In this section, we have outlined the best universities in France for undergraduate international students. These universities include:

  • Paris Sciences et Letters Research University
  • Ecole Polytechnique
  • Sorbonne University
  • University of Paris
  • Télécom Paris
  • École Normale Supérieure de Lyon
  • Paris-Sud University
  • École des Ponts ParisTech
  • Aix-Marseille University
  • Grenoble Alpes University
  • Montpellier University
  • IMT Atlantique
  • Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
  • University of Bordeaux
  • Centrale Nantes

#1. Paris Sciences et Letters Research University

Université Paris Sciences et Lettres is a collegiate university founded in Paris in 2010. PSL is presently organized as a ComUE, and the university comprises 9 members. It 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 runs around 181 specialized laboratories and cutting-edge research facilities. PSL collaborates internationally with some universities, including the University of Cambridge, Columbia University, and Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.

Address: 60 Rue Mazarine, 75006 Paris, France

School Website

#2. Ecole Polytechnique

This is a public higher learning and research institution in Palaiseau, a suburb 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 various disciplines.

On the other hand, undergraduate admission needs two years of preparation during high school before a week of written exams which is after that followed by an oral examination.

Students that are citizens are required to serve in the military service for eight months in their first year since the Ministry of Defence officially runs the institution.

Address: Route de Saclay, 91120 Palaiseau, France

School Website

#3. Sorbonne University

Sorbonne University is a public research university in Paris, France, founded in 2018 by the merger of Paris-Sorbonne University, Pierre et Marie Curie University, and with smaller institutions. This school has three faculties: Humanities, Science, and Medicine.

The institution is home to eight notable scientific collections open to researchers. Some collections, like the minerals, paleontology, and zoology, are also open to the public. 

Address: 15-21 Rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006 Paris, France

School Website

Check this out: FRANCE STUDENT VISA: Easy Step by Step Application Procedures

#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 has had a high reputation for the humanities ever since the middle ages. 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 a particular domain of studies, such as natural or social sciences. It is further connected to about 13 Nobel Laureates and several other scientists, intellectuals, government officials, and religious figures.

Popular majors include Law, Education, Business & Economics, Medicine & Dentistry, Psychology, Life Sciences, and Computer Science.

School Website

#5. Télécom Paris

Telecom ParisTech is a public research university in Paris, France, founded in 1878. This school is one of the best graduate universities in France, majorly in engineering.

ParisTech has approximately 1400 students and offers courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Also, about 35 percent of the student population are foreign students who come to study worldwide.

All courses offered by Paris Tech cover the fields of communication engineering, information technology, and Economics and Finance.

Address: 19 Place Marguerite Perey, 91120 Palaiseau, France

School Website

#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. The institution operates through 11 central 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

School Website

#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 engineering, technical, and administrative staff members. 

This institution which is amongst the best universities in France also boasts an extensive choice of academic programs at the Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate level, but also in technical training. 

Popular majors include Law, Engineering & Technology, Business & Economics, Life Sciences, Social Sciences, and Education.

Address: 15 Rue Georges Clemenceau, 91400 Orsay, France

School Website

Read also: MBA In France: Top 5 Universities, Academic Requirements, Scholarships, Tuition, Student Visa

#8. École des Ponts ParisTech

This higher education and research institution 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

School Website

#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:

  • Architecture
  • Languages, Literature & Linguistics
  • Art, Performing Arts & Design
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical & Electronic Engineering
  • Geography
  • Communication & Media Studies
  • Sociology
  • Law
  • Mathematics & Statistics
  • Physics & Astronomy
  • Chemistry

Some notable alumni include four Nobel prizewinners (J. M. G. Le Clézio, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature), several heads of state, filmmakers, and actors such as Jean Renoir and Bradley Cooper. 

Address: Jardin du Pharo, 58 Boulevard Charles Livon, 13007 Marseille, France

School Website

#10. Grenoble Alpes University

The Université Grenoble Alpes is a public research university established in Grenoble, France, in 1339. 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 and operates around 110 research units.

Some of the school’s notable alumni 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

School Website

#11. Montpellier University

This public research university in Montpellier, in the southeast of France, was founded in 1289. This school, amongst the best graduate universities in France, is one of the oldest universities in the world.

Popular majors at this institution include:

  • Electrical & Electronic Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
  • Medicine & Dentistry
  • Geology, Environmental, Earth & Marine Sciences
  • Mathematics & Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Physics & Astronomy
  • Sports Science
  • Law

Address: 34090 Montpellier, France

School Website

#12. IMT Atlantique

This institution, one of France’s best universities for international students, 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 among the 210 French engineering schools approved to award engineering diplomas under the Ministry of Industry and the digital sector.

Also, many students at this school are in 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:

  • Physics & Astronomy
  • Mathematics & Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Geology, Environmental, Earth & Marine Sciences
  • Business & Management
  • Accounting & Finance
  • Economics & Econometrics
  • Computer Science
  • Sociology

School Website

#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 and is located in the Southwestern suburb of Paris, with internationally known businesses like Renault, PSA, Dassault, CNRS, INRA, and CEA.

Subjects that are taught at UVSQ include:

  • Business & Economics
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Medicine & Dentistry
  • Computer Science
  • Life Sciences
  • Law
  • Education
  • Arts & Humanities

Address: 55 Avenue de Paris, 78000 Versailles, France

School Website

#14. University of Bordeaux

The University of Bordeaux, amongst France’s best universities, was established in 1441. This school has about 56,000 students, of which approximately 2,000 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 Neuroscience, Digital public health, and Light sciences and technologies.

Address: 146 Rue Léo Saignat, 33076 Bordeaux, France

School Website

#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 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

School Website

You can also read: Study In France: How to Apply for a Visa to Study in France (READ AND SHARE)

FAQs on the Best Graduate Universities in France for International Students

Are there grants and scholarships to study in France?

Yes. The French government announced that they would increase the availability of scholarships and the new higher tuition fees. The official CampusBourses tool offers an overview of grants and scholarships to study in France.

When do I have to pay the tuition?

You must pay the annual tuition fee at the beginning of the academic year. That is by September each year.

When is the application deadline in France?

Usually, most institutions set their application deadlines between February and April for degrees starting in the autumn of the same year. However, things may be managed differently in line with the most recent reforms for international students. We advise that you consult with the universities you’re applying to be very sure.

What is the application fee for a visa to France?

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 at some of the best universities in France is interesting. Even though public institutions in France are cheap, scholarship opportunities are also open to students. Examples are the Erasmus Mundus scholarship and the SciencesPo Emile-Boutmy Scholarship, awarded to the best international students.

The reasons to study in France are so many. Paris, France’s capital, is ranked as the best city to study in. Also, the country has some of the world’s best business and engineering schools 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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