Education System Profiles | Top Q&A

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Jessica Magaziner, Credential Evaluator, WES

On this article, we offer an outline of the French schooling system, with a have a look at the construction, credentials, and up to date historical past. We additionally take inventory of French efforts to internationalize the schooling system, each by way of outbound and inbound mobility.

Studying: what’s the literacy fee in france

Training is a precedence in France, with 21 p.c of the annual nationwide funds earmarked for schooling. The nation boasts a 99 p.c literacy fee. France’s increased schooling historical past is prolonged. The College of Paris, one of many world’s oldest universities, was based in 1215. Previous to 1789, schooling was managed by the Catholic Church. After the French Revolution, a standardized and centralized schooling system was instituted.

For administrative functions, France is geographically divided into 31 instructional areas often known as académies. Every académie is headed by a recteur, a consultant of the Ministry of Training, who’s accountable for all schooling ranges inside that area. Every académie is additional divided into départements, that are headed by an inspecteur d’académie, who oversees main and secondary schooling. A regulation adopted in 1989 established that whereas the Ministry of Training is answerable for creating the curriculum and setting instructional requirements and targets, every main and secondary college has the autonomy to decide on learn how to finest educate the curriculum and obtain state-determined instructional targets.

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Based on the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, in 2012 62,416 French college students had been learning overseas. The highest 5 vacation spot nations for French college students in increased schooling had been:

  • United Kingdom: 20.4%
  • Canada: 13.3%
  • United States: 12.8%
  • Switzerland: 11.9%
  • Belgium: 10.8%

Within the 2013-2014 educational yr, 8,302 French college students got here to review in the USA. France is the fifteenth highest contributor of worldwide college students to the USA and these college students have contributed $287 million to the U.S. financial system. Most French college students within the U.S. research on the undergraduate stage (a complete of 34.5 p.c), with 28.3 p.c learning on the graduate stage and 37.2 p.c of the French college students in the USA take part in different varieties of packages (together with Non-obligatory Sensible Coaching).

Enrollments amongst French college students coming to the USA rose all through the Nineteen Nineties to a peak of seven,401 within the early 2000s. A 3-year decline adopted September eleventh, 2001, however French scholar numbers have been on a constant progress trajectory for the reason that 2005-2006 educational yr, with a report of 8,302 learning in the USA in 2014.

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Training System

The French educational college yr runs from September till June. Examinations are sometimes supplied in June, with a second set of retake examinations scheduled in September.

Elementary Training

In France, schooling is obligatory between the ages of 6 and 16. Elementary college (enseignement élémentaire) begins at age 6 and lasts for five years. It’s divided into two cycles: the fundamental studying cycle (two years) and the consolidation cycle (three years). Elementary schooling focuses on French, arithmetic, studying and writing, social sciences, science, and the introduction of a primary international language.

Secondary Training

Following elementary college, college students enroll in secondary college. Secondary schooling is split into two ranges: decrease secondary (enseignement secondaire du premier cycle) and higher secondary (enseignement secondaire du deuxième cycle).

Decrease Secondary Training

Decrease secondary schooling is taught at center colleges (collèges) and is open to all college students who’ve accomplished elementary college. This system is 4 years in size and consists of 4 grades numbered in descending order. Research start in yr six (sixième) and finish in yr three (troisième).

The curriculum focuses on French, international language, arithmetic, historical past and geography, life and earth science, physics and chemistry, artwork, know-how, music, and bodily schooling. On the finish of decrease secondary college, college students take a nationwide examination in certainly one of three streams: educational, technological or vocational. Those that go the examination earn the Diplôme Nationwide du Brevet (DNB). Those that fail the examination earn a school-leaving certificates known as le Certificat de Formation Générale (CFG).

Higher Secondary Training

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Higher secondary college is three years in size and is comprised of years 10, 11, and 12 (known as seconde, première, and terminale). Higher secondary schooling takes place at excessive colleges (lycées). Entry is granted to college students who’ve the DNB and to a really restricted variety of college students with the CFG. On the finish of the primary yr (seconde), college students select a stream of research that shall be adopted for the ultimate two years of higher secondary research resulting in the baccalauréat examinations. The overall educational stream culminates within the diplôme du baccalauréat général. The technology-based stream earns college students the diplôme du baccalauréat technologique and the vocational stream results in the baccalauréat professionnel. All three varieties of baccalauréat grant college students entry to college research. College students who fail the baccalauréat examination are issued the certificat de fin d’études secondaires.

College students who’re enrolled in vocational packages may earn the Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) and the Brevet d’Etudes Professionnelles (BEP), each of that are terminal levels meant to present the scholars entry to jobs of their chosen business. The baccalauréat examinations are supplied in June and September yearly.

The Baccalauréat Program

The educational stream is obtainable in three concentrations: literary (L), financial and social sciences (ES), and scientific (S). College students observe a curriculum of math, science (life and earth sciences or engineering sciences), physics and chemistry, philosophy, languages, civics, social science, and bodily schooling throughout their remaining yr of research. College students within the literary stream focus their coursework on languages, historical past and geography, the humanities, and literature. College students within the science stream focus their coursework on science and arithmetic, whereas college students within the financial and social science stream deal with economics and social sciences, historical past and geography, arithmetic, and languages.

The know-how stream has concentrations accessible in industrial science and know-how, laboratory sciences, well being sciences, lodge and tourism, administration, music and dance, and environmental science. The vocational stream has concentrations in many alternative specialties, together with gross sales, accounting, automotive mechanics, and graphic design. It prepares college students to enter the job market, but additionally gives entry to increased schooling.

Larger Training


Admission to increased schooling is predicated on the baccalauréat examination. Some selective increased teaching programs, supplied on the grandes écoles, require college students to take a aggressive examination (concours) for entrance into this system. To be able to take this examination, college students usually full two years of preparatory research (lessons préparatoires) at specialised excessive colleges (lycées).

Establishments and Levels

Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS) (Larger Technician’s Certificates)

The BTS is a two-year technical diploma awarded by the Ministry of Training. Admission to the BTS is aggressive. The BTS is earned after the completion of two years (120 ECTS credit) of preparatory research in a lycée and the passing of a nationwide examination. Those that have earned a BTS can proceed into the workforce, or use it for entry to additional research in bachelor’s packages in engineering or enterprise.

Institut Universitaires de Technologie (IUT) (College Institutes of Expertise)

The 2-year packages are supplied at IUT, that are impartial establishments affiliated with universities. These packages culminate within the diplôme universitaire de technologie (DUT). Admission to IUT is aggressive. This diploma is designed to organize college students for employment of their subject of research but additionally offers entry to college diploma packages.


There are 83 public universities in France, and 80% of the tertiary scholar inhabitants attends these establishments, as they’re very accessible, inexpensive, and supply many packages of research. The L-M-D construction instituted beneath the Bologna Course of reforms created a three-tiered system of schooling on the universities: the bachelor’s diploma (licence), the grasp’s diploma (grasp), and the doctorate (doctorat).

Admission to diplôme de licence packages is predicated on the baccalauréat, the nationwide college leaving certificates. The licence diploma is issued after three years of research and 180 ECTS credit. There’s additionally an expert model of this diploma known as the diplôme de licence professionnel for college students who maintain the BTS or the DUT (see above). This system is one yr in period and requires the completion of 60 ECTS credit.

Following the licence, college students could proceed research on the graduate stage. After two years of research and completion of 120 ECTS credit, they earn the grade de grasp. The grasp permits college students entry to the third cycle of schooling. The third cycle of schooling results in the doctorat. It requires a minimal of three years of research and the completion and protection of a thesis.

Research in Medication, Pharmacy, and Dentistry

The skilled packages in drugs, dentistry, and pharmacy all start with a typical yr of health-related research (première année commune aux etudes de santé). After the primary yr, college students should sit for a aggressive examination. This limits the variety of college students eligible for additional medical, pharmaceutical, and dental research.

Normal Medication

Medical research is obtainable at universities and is grouped into three cycles. The primary medical cycle (premier cycle en médicine) requires two years of research, certainly one of which is the widespread yr (see above). The second cycle (deuxième cycle en médecine) requires 4 years of research. The third cycle of medical research varies in size relying on this system chosen.

College students that observe the overall program full a three-year residency (résidanat) and defend a thesis to earn le Diplôme d’État de Docteur en Médecine (State Diploma of Physician of Medication). This enables the holder to follow normal drugs.

Medical Specialists

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For college kids following a specialist program, the third cycle requires a four- or five-year internship (internat). After completion of this system and protection of the thesis, college students earn the Diplôme d’État de Docteur en Médecine and le Diplôme d’Etudes Spécialisées (Diploma of Specialised Research) is awarded after completion of the internship. This enables the holder to follow as a medical specialist.


Following the primary yr of normal well being research, college students full a further 5 years of research to earn the Diplôme d’État de Docteur en Pharmacie (State Diploma of Physician of Pharmacy). This enables the holder to follow as a pharmacist.


Following the primary yr of normal well being research, college students full a program of a further 5 to seven years of research. This earns them the Diplôme d’État de Docteur en Chirurgie-Dentaire (State Diploma of Physician of Dentistry). This enables the holder to follow as a dentist.

Les Grandes Écoles

Along with universities, France is dwelling to over 200 grandes écoles. These colleges are specialised establishments, and about 30 of them are thought of to be very prestigious. They provide packages in areas equivalent to engineering, schooling, structure, and enterprise administration. Admission to the grandes écoles requires the completion of two years of preparatory research and passing a aggressive examination (concours). That is adopted by a three-year program of research. Some colleges admit college students instantly after the baccalaureate examination and supply a five-year program resulting in a diploma in engineering.


Engineering research will be accomplished at universities and engineering grandes écoles and culminates within the diplôme d’ingénieur (Diploma of Engineer). Entry into these packages could be very aggressive. Admission is normally achieved via completion of preparatory research, the DUT or the BTS, and with a aggressive entrance examination. The engineering program lasts three years.

Mastère Spécialisé and Mastère en Sciences

These are post-graduate diplomas supplied at grandes écoles following a one-year program comprised of coursework, analysis, and a thesis.


Public increased schooling establishments function beneath the authority of the State and subsequently all nationwide and university-issued diplomas are acknowledged. Non-public establishments want to use to obtain educational recognition from the Ministry of Training. Establishments can obtain two ranges of official recognition.

Institutional Recognition (Reconnaissance d’un établissement)

  • The Ministry of Training can grant educational recognition by decree. Acknowledged personal establishments obtain state funding and college students are in a position to apply for public grants.
  • Diplomas issued by establishments with this standing bear the title “établissement d’enseignement supérieur privé reconnu par l’état” (personal increased schooling establishment acknowledged by the State).

Levels Validated by the State (Visé par l’État)

  • As soon as an establishment has been acknowledged for at least 5 years, it could apply for its levels to be validated by the State.
  • To ensure that this to happen, the establishment should undergo steady critiques of its program, together with the curriculum and commencement necessities, the standard of instruction, and the extent of job integration after diploma conferral.
  • When the diploma has been given the title visé par l’État, it signifies a standardized stage of high quality for this system. This standing is awarded in a ministerial decree and lasts for a most of six years, at which level this system must be reevaluated to make sure high quality.

Grading Scales

Baccalaureate Grading Scale

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Bachelor’s Diploma Grading Scale

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Grandes Écoles/Graduate Grading Scale

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Pattern Paperwork

Pattern Paperwork: France

This file of Pattern Paperwork (pdf) exhibits the next set of annotated credentials from the French schooling system:

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  1. Highschool diploma issued by the Ministry of Training (Diplôme du Baccalauréat Général)
  2. Highschool examination outcomes for the baccalauréat examination issued by the Ministry of Training
  3. Diploma certificates and educational transcripts for a licence bachelor’s diploma in Utilized Economics from the College of Paris-Dauphine.
  4. Diploma certificates and educational transcripts for a grasp’s diploma in administration from the College of Paris- Nanterre
  5. Educational transcripts for 2 years of preparatory research (lessons préparatoires) resulting in admission at a enterprise college
  6. Diploma certificates and educational transcripts for a enterprise program from a grande école issued by the Larger Institute of Enterprise of Pau

Doc Glossary

  • Diploma certificates – attestation d’admission
  • Educational transcripts – relevé de notes
  • Remaining examination outcomes – relevé de notes de l’examen remaining
  • Secondary college educational transcripts – bulletin de notes
  • Scholar file – file d’étudiant

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