Undergraduate Studies in France
France lies in Western Europe, with the Mediterranean Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Spain to the south, Belgium and Luxembourg to the north and Germany, Switzerland and Italy to the east. This constitutional republic is known for its beautiful beaches, magnificent castles and palaces, fine wines, sophisticated cuisine and high fashion. The capital city, Paris, is home to iconic sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees, as well as the imposing cathedrals of Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur. The nation has a longstanding history of nurturing some of the world’s greatest artists, writers, scientists and thinkers.
What Types of Schools Offer Undergraduate Studies in France?
Students pursuing higher education in France have many options. There are over 3,000 public universities to choose from, including several branches of foreign universities. While there are a number of large universities that offer a wide range of studies, the majority are small and tend to specialize in a particular field, such as political studies, economics, engineering and government administration. Grandes ecoles are extremely prestigious and selective, and each specializes in a single field of study.
The French government subsidizes education at all levels. While students are required to contribute to the cost of tuition, rates are relatively low. Private schools, particularly engineering and business schools, can be more expensive, with tuition rates similar to equivalent programs in other European countries. The location of the school impacts the cost of living a student should be prepared for.
How Long Is the Academic Year in France?
The academic year is divided into two semesters. Classes begin in September or October and end in May or June, depending on the university. Students take a two-week vacation over the Christmas and New Year holidays, and a two-month vacation during July and August for the summer holidays. Several religious and national holidays are also celebrated with one- or two-day long hiatus from classes.
How Long Does it Take to Earn an Undergraduate Degree in France?
A bachelor’s degree is also called a "Licence" or "Licence Professionnelle". Students must earn a minimum of 180 credits to complete this type of program. A full-time student who takes 60 credits per year can complete their degree in about three years. Some programs may take longer, particularly if they are research-based or include preparation for graduate studies.
Why Choose Undergraduate Studies in France?
French universities have welcomed students from around the world since the creation of La Sorbonne over 800 years ago. The government has introduced several policies that make it easy for foreign students to study undergraduate studies in France, a practice that has made French universities some of the most diverse and cosmopolitan in the world. Students can enjoy affordable tuition and knowledgeable professors in one of the most beautiful, culturally rich nations in the world.
If you are an EU national, or national from the EEA, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you do not require a visa to study in France. If you are a national from anywhere else in the world, you will need to obtain a student visa for France. You need to have secured a place on a course at a French educational institution before applying for a visa.
There are different types of student visas, depending on how long you plan to study in France:
- Visa de court séjour pour etudes (‘Schengen’ short-stay student visa) - If your studies will last less than three months. It is issued free of charge and cannot be renewed. 41 countries may not need a visa for a stay of less than three months.
- Etudient concours (visa for sitting entrance exams) - On this visa, you can come to France to take an entrance exam at an institute of higher education. If you pass, then you can apply directly to your local prefecture (French local authority/administrative office) in France for a one-year, renewable residence permit.
- Visa de long séjour temporaire pour etudes (temporary long-stay visa) - This visa allows you to study in France for between three and six months without the need for a residence permit. It is non-renewable.
- Visa de long séjour etudes (long-stay visa) - If you want to study for longer than six months. This type of study visa lasts for the duration of your course in France. Long-stay visas act as residence permits and are called VLT-TS.
- Extended stay research scholar visa - If you have a Master’s degree or higher and want to come to France to take part in research or teach at university level, then the institution can bring you over on an extended stay research scholar visa VLS-TS.
Some countries require you to register first with CampusFrance (www.campusfrance.org), the French national agency for higher education and international students, in order to apply for admission and get a student visa through the CEF procedure. Otherwise, you should get your visa at the French embassy/consulate in your home country.
There is an official website for visa application to France: https://france-visas.gouv.fr/. You can find an overview of the necessary documentation for your visa application there.
It can take up to two months for a Visa application to be approved, so you should submit all of the necessary information as quickly as possible before you plan to leave.
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