You Want to Study in France

Higher Education in France and in the US

Higher Education in France is very different in France and the US. The following explanations can help American students who wish to study in France.

General Organization of Higher Education in France


France USA
Specialization earlier later
Most important aspects of a program Diploma School reputation
Transfers Rare Easy
Bachelor’s Degree 180 ECTS in 3 years 120 credits in 4 years
Liberal Arts component Non (High School) Yes

Choosing a Program

European universities have adopted the LMD system, which allows them to deliver the same diplomas.

  • the Licence is validated when the student gets 180 ECTS credits.
  • the Master recherche or the Master professionnel are validated by getting 120 ECTS credits after the Licence.
  • the Doctorat is obtained by getting 180 ECTS credits after the Master (ie. a total of 480 ECTS credits).

Finding an Institution

The French Higher Education system is based on various type of institutions: public or private universities, grandes écoles, specialized schools... Public institutions are financed by the State, and have free or very small tuition fees, while private institutions have higher tuition fees.

Enrolling in French Higher Education

Once you have found the program you are interested in, please follow these steps to enroll.

How to Enroll

Please refer to the following table to find the procedure according to your situation.


If you are a citizenship of France or any European country:

  • to enroll in first year of Licence, in a BTS, in a classe préparatoire (CPGE), in a DUT, in a DU, in an architecture school, you must follow the Admission Post-Bac (APB) procedure.
  • to enroll in second or third year of Licence, or in Master, you must apply directly to the university.

If you are not a French or European citizen:

  • Please follow the procedure indicated in the table above.
  • You must apply through the "Études en France" platform on the Campus France USA website. Once your application has been accepted, please contact the closest French consulate to get a student visa: please see this page for more information.

The Different Application Procedures

  • The Admission Post-Bac (APB) procedure is meant for French citizens, or students who hold a European Baccalaureate. Opened from January to March.
  • The Demande d’Admission Préalable (DAP) and Hors Demande d’Admission Préalable (HorsDAP) procedures go through the Études en France platform established by the French government to simplify the application process for foreign students who do not have a French or European Baccalaureate. Please see the Campus France website for more information and application deadlines.


  • BAC (baccalaureate): High school diploma.
  • PACES: Première Année Commune aux Etudes de Santé, first year of medical school.
  • IUT: Institut Universitaire de Technologie.
  • DU: Diplôme d’Université. This is a degree that is specific to each university.
  • DUT: 2-year degree obtained in an IUT after the baccalaureate.
  • DEUST: Diplôme d’Etudes Universitaires Scientifiques et Techniques.
  • CUPGE: Cycle Universitaire Préparatoire aux Grandes Ecoles, aka "prépa". This is an intensive 2 or 3-year program to prepare for a "Grande École" (prestigious schools in sciences, the administration, diplomacy and political science).

Language certifications

Most common French language certifications include the DELF/DALF and the TCF. You must have passed one of the two to enroll in a French university.

The DELF and the DALF
The DELF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française) and the DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) are official certifications delivered by the French Ministry of Education to attest of the proficiency level of foreign applicants. It is possible to take these exams in accredited centers in over 150 countries, including France and the US.

The Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF)
The TCF (Test de Connaissance du Français) is another French proficiency test. It is meant for non-native speakers who want to attest of their proficiency for personal, professional or academic reasons.


For more information about the administrative process, please visit the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

You will find the application process for a visa on this page.

Last modified on 23/07/2018

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