How to Apply to Universities in France

How to Apply to Universities in France (6 Steps)


France is a country that is rich in culture, architectural treasures, and gastronomic delights. These are just some of the many reasons that attract many students to study in the historic nation.

With its world-class universities, wide array of program options, and generally affordable tuition, more and more learners are setting their sights on France. If you are one of these people, then make sure to follow these tips on how to apply to French universities.

1. Pick what you want to study at French Universities

French universities are renowned for their many programs, though some prove to be the most popular options amongst local and foreign students alike.

Because of the country’s sophisticated technology, many enrollees are taking up Aviation or Nuclear-related courses in the country.

Apart from these advanced degrees, students find it good to study the following courses in France:

  • Languages
  • Arts
  • History
  • Education
  • Law
  • Medicine

Before applying to universities in France, it is critical that you know what you want to study in France.

2. Meet the Language Requirements

Although France offers a variety of courses in the English language, most of its degree programs are taught in the native French language. As such, if you want to learn well – and be able to socialize with your fellow students and neighbors even – then it is recommended that you learn the French language.

At the prestigious Sorbonne University, for example, sufficient knowledge of the French language is required to apply for this university in France. The degree of proficiency, however, will depend on your program.

For example, if you wish to enroll at the Faculty of Arts & Humanities and the Faculty of Science & Engineering, then you need a fluency level of B2 (according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). This means that you understand the main ideas of complex text – as well as the standard spoken language.

At the Faculty of Medicine, the requirement is C1. This means you can understand lengthy speech or abstract statements. At the same time, a C1 grade means that you also comprehend longer texts and their implicit meanings.

Like Sorbonne University, the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) has varying language requirements. Depending on the undergraduate/Licence program, the school may require a French proficiency grade of A2 (understands simple, straightforward information) to C1. An English Proficiency level of C1 is required in most courses as well.

For Master’s students, French and English C1 proficiency is required in programs at the Schools of Public Affair, Law, Management & Innovation, and Urban Education. At the Paris School of International Affairs, however, there is no requirement for French proficiency. A C1 level in English, meanwhile, is needed.

Since language requirements vary according to school and program, make sure to check them before you apply to universities in France. That way, you’ll know if you will be able to submit the needed documentation before the prescribed deadline.

3. Meet the application requirements for French Universities

Apart from meeting the language proficiency set by your preferred university, you will need to submit all the required documents as well.

To apply at most French universities – undergraduate foreign students need to submit their application through the Campus France platform. If you come from the 46 countries affected by the Etudes en France procedure, then you will need to make a specific request before you can enroll in your university.

If you don’t come from an Etudes en France country, you will need to submit a Demande d’Admission Préalable – DAP before you can enroll in the university.

Whatever process you need to undertake, you will need to prepare a copy of your secondary school certificate and transcript of records. Additional requirements such as a motivation letter or interview may also be required depending on your desired degree.

The same procedure applies to Masteral students. If you want to study at Sorbonne for example, then you need to course your application through Campus France or eCandidate. Apart from supplying a copy of your Bachelor’s degree, you will also need to submit proof of language proficiency and other requirements (reference letters, motivation letters, etc.). The latter will depend according to the degree program you have applied for.

While Campus France has a centralized program, the evaluation of your documents may take some time. As such, it is best to submit your documents early since the deadline for foreign applicants is usually earlier as well.

4. Make a List of Universities to Apply to Based on Subject and Reputation

If you want to get the best education possible, then you need to apply to the best universities in France. Fortunately for you, the country does not run out of this. According to the World University Rankings, the best French universities are:

  • PSL Research University Paris – rank 46 internationally
  • Ecole Polytechnique – rank 87
  • Sorbonne University – rank 87
  • University of Paris – rank 136
  • Paris-Saclay University – rank 178

Apart from considering the university’s reputation, you will also have to base your choice on the degree you would like to pursue. After all, some universities may fare better than others in some courses. In some cases, some top-ranked universities may not offer your course of choice.

For example, if you would like to study Physical Science, Arts & Humanities, and Life Sciences then your best option is PSL. After all, it is ranked 19th, 22nd, and 42nd in the aforementioned disciplines.

PSL is also a good choice for Engineering & Technology courses. The next best options are Ecole Polytechnique and Paris-Saclay University.

Pantheon-Sorbonne University and PSL, once again, are the best universities for Legal/Law studies.

If you want to study Medicine, then the best options are the Sorbonne (rank 66) and the University of Paris (rank 68).

For Psychology, the universities you should consider are the University of Paris and Aix-Marseille University.

5. If finances are important, apply to afforable universities in France

France is generally affordable compared to other European countries. For Bachelor’s or Licence degrees, you will only need to pay 2,770 Euros or $3,372. For Master’s, you will have to pay 3,770 Euros or $4,590. Of course, you can expect the tuition to be more expensive in private universities, with which you need to pay about 20,000 Euros ($24,351) a year.

But then again, you will need to consider the other expenses you will incur while living in France. This includes rent or accommodation ($800 to $1,200 a month), groceries ($600), etc.

If the cumulative expenses threaten to burn a hole in your wallet, then you should consider applying to affordable French universities. Good examples include:

  • University of Orleans – about 601 Euros or $731 yearly
  • University of Burgundy – about 601 Euros or $731 yearly
  • University of Strasbourg – about 610 Euros or $742 annually

While they may not be as prominent as PSL University or Sorbonne, these French universities deliver quality education as well. The University of Strasbourg, for one, is included in the 501-600 bracket of the World Rankings.

6. Then, look for scholarships in those universities

If you wish to study in prestigious French schools but don’t have the finances to do so, then you should try to apply for universities in France that give scholarships.

Universities themselves offer Campus Bourses or campus scholarships. These may be either merit (grade)-based or need-based.

Certain regions also subsidize the tuition of some of its foreign students.

Some programs, especially for Masters or Ph.D. studies, may be funded by the Foreign Ministry.

I hope that this article on how to apply to universities in France was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Category!