This post was last updated on November 28th, 2016 at 01:12 pm
Do you want to know how to study in France?
Well you’re in the right place. Education in France is thriving – with about 1.5 million university students right now. With about 250,000 of those being foreigners who are studying abroad.
One of the reasons is because France offers great education for an affordable price. A full year of tuition, with courses taught in French, will run you only 200-600 euros!!
Although private schools and grands écoles will cost considerably more money. And if you want to be taught in English then you’ll have to pay thousands per semester for the privilege.
There are over 241 universities in France that you can choose from – the possibilities are REAL. You can pursue your “bachelors,” master’s degree, or even doctorate in France.
But studying in France seems kinda difficult, no?
Luckily, I’m going to outline how to study in France and get yourself in a French University.
We’ll go through all the steps necessary to get accepted and get studying!
If you want any additional reading, you can learn about my experience teaching English in a French high school as well as a general overview about how education works in France.
Helpful Websites For Studying in France
Étudiant.Gouv – Official French website for students with tips on finding housing, enrolling, and getting a job after your education
Lokaviz – Official Student Housing Website
CAMPUS FRANCE – For all of your application needs
How to Apply to a French University
To start applying to French Universities you have a few routes.
Many university students from the USA/Canada will apply to a semester or a full-year abroad. These programs are oftentimes a mutual partnership. After you have two years of undergrad under your belt – you’re free to study abroad in France. The application process is a bit easier and the courses will count towards your degree back at home. But unless the courses are in English, or you’re learning French while abroad, then you’ll need a certificate to verify your French skills.
If you’re looking for graduate degrees or you plan on doing your undergrad in France – you must apply online via a large directory set up by the French government OR you apply directly to the universities yourself.
The difference depends on what country you’re from.
If you live in one of the 35 countries in the table below, a convenient online process is in place. Use of this procedure is required if you wish to obtain a student visa. If you live in a country not listed below, you may apply directly to the institutions of your choice.
So what are these 35 countries?
Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo (Brazzaville), Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Marocco, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, USA, Vietnam
Essentially, if you’re part of the 35 countries you’ll have to apply via the online process, which I’ll talk about in the next section. Otherwise, you can apply directly to the schools of your choice via their websites.
You’ll need to decide what type of degree you’re pursuing too.
There are over 36,000 programs offered in France now. Here’s a list of all the degree possibilities.
Once the application process is over, the schools will decide if they want to accept you.
All accepted applicants, who are not part of the European Union, then need to get a student visa so that they can legally study in France.
The Steps to Submitting Your Application
All the universities will want you to submit a dossier. Essentially this includes your diploma (or current educational credentials), transcripts, a resume, and a personal statement translated into French.
If you’re part of the 35 REQUIRED countries – you’ll need to apply on a specific website. CAMPUS FRANCE will serve as your common point of access, which will give you access to multiple schools.
Where you start your application for higher education in France (For the 35 REQUIRED countries listed above)
They made a short, corny video which might give you some insight into the process.
Like I said before, deadlines are a very important point.
Hypothetically speaking, if you wanted to study for the next academic year, then the application cycle would open in December, begin in January, and last until the end of March. You’ll have the month of April to confirm your university choices and send in all of your documents.
The school has until May to confirm that they received your paper documents.
Between June and July, you’ll start hearing back from schools. If you’re accepted then congrats! You’ll be studying in France starting in the fall.
If you missed all of these deadlines – you can try to message the program director of the university. I’ve heard instances where they accept people as late as July. Although the process will likely be more messy.
Getting Your Student Visa
Congrats, getting accepted to a program is the hard part.
Now you just need to wrap up some administrative duties.
If you’re an American or Canadian citizen, for example, you’ll need a long-stay visa so that you can legally reside in France during the time of your studies. This is all done at your local French consulate in your native country. You DO NOT handle this in France unless you’re already residing in France for some reason.
I go into detail about how to obtain your visa in my Live in France Guide. I also talk about how to find a place to live, open a bank account, and do various other important things once you move to France.
Once you go to your consulate in person, they’ll need anywhere from 1-4 weeks to process your visa application – depending on how busy they are.
Student visas are valid for one year and are renewable for as many years as you are a student when you provide documentation of your continued enrollment.
You could find information on this through Campus France and your Local Consulate website.
How To Find Housing As a Student
Most of the universities offer housing or will point you towards local apartment buildings that have a lot of students in them. Student housing is pretty affordable – although if that’s not the case then you can apply to a French Government program such as the CAF.
I talk about how to apply to the CAF, and save money on your rent, in my Live in France Guide. Affordable rent is the first step to making it in France, because otherwise you’ll constantly be short on cash.
So where do you find housing?
A helpful resource would be LOKAVIZ. There is a program called the CLÉ, or caution locative étudiante, which allows you to rent an apartment even if you can’t find a French guarantor.
You can also try a website like pap.fr to find an apartment. These are listings by actual people – hence they might not ask for as many documents as a typical realtor.
I found my apartment directly through a realtor however, and my rent was 256€/month with water included. I had to cover my electric costs. While it wasn’t student housing, I did benefit from living on my own.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I need to speak French to study in France?
If you want to study in France as a foreigner, and French isn’t your native language, then you typically need proof of your French skills through an exam (DELF/DALF exam). The required level is usually B1 or B2 for entry depending on your school.
The exceptions to this rule is if you’re taking classes to learn French or if your classes are in English.
Do I need a Visa to Study in France?
Students who do not originate from the European Union will likely need to acquire a student visa if you plan on staying longer than a few months in France. Americans, for instance, wouldn’t need a visa if they were taking a 2-month study abroad program, but they would need one if they planned on spending an entire academic year abroad.
If you do obtain a student visa, you have the ability to work in France for a couple hours a week to supplement your income.
Where Do I Get My Student Visa?
If you’re currently in France – just go to your local prefecture.
If you’re not in France – you’ll need to apply for your visas at your local French consulate.
The consulate will take your passport and stamp it with all the required documentation. You need to schedule an appointment and visit your consulate in person. They will mail you your passport when they’re done.
How Do I Find Housing In France?
Use the resources presented in the article. If you need more help with the process, I go into full detail within my Live in France Guide.