Did you know that France is the third country worldwide that hosts the largest number of international students each year? In France, there are more than 278,000 international students that decide to pursue their studies in that country because of the academic quality of French institutions and the low cost of tuitions in France; for being able to live and know the culture, the opportunity to improve their knowledge of French, food and all the magic of this country.
The French Education System
In case of being interested in studying a postgraduate program in France, you must know that in this country there are two types of institutions that offer higher education programs. These are the Universités, which name means Universities and the Grandes Écoles, which are very prestigious schools.
Universités: Being public institutions, French Universities offer postgraduate programs in all fields of study. With more than 1.5 million students, the Universités are well known for developing the majority of public research in France. However, nowadays these institutions are opening to the requirements of the labor market, expanding the number of students that have to pursue internships as part of their academic program. As a matter of fact, 60% of Master students in French Universities undertake this kind of professional practice.
During your search, you will find more than 80 Universités, and you must know that, as all are finance by the French government, their quality and degrees are accepted by the government.
Grandes Écoles: Being smaller institutions than Universités, the Grandes Écoles might be public or private, and are authorized by the French government to offer higher education degrees. In France, the Grandes Écoles are characterized by having highly selective and competitive admission processes, in which candidates have to present and approve rigorous admission exams. But dot worry, there are more than 30,000 international students pursuing a postgraduate program in a Grande École.
It is also important for you to know that the study in a Grande École is mainly focuses in the requirements of the French industry and business. Almost 60% of the Directors and Managers of the 100 biggest French companies have obtained their academic degrees in a Grande École. In order for students to have the greatest possible contact with the business sector, the Grande Écoles generally include internships and international exchanges. Another advantage you will find if studying in a Grande École is that most of these institutions offer their courses completely in English.
In case of being interested in studying in a Grande École, you must know that these are divided in:
· Schools of Business
· Schools of Engineering
· Institutes of Political Studies
· Specialized Schools (in gastronomy, hospitality, fashion, films)
Types of Postgraduate Programs
During your search of a postgraduate program in France, you will find out that the French higher education system in organized in the form L-M-D: licence-master-doctorat. Of these, the master and the doctorat (doctorate) are the types of postgraduate programs you will be able to study in that country.
Master: In France, masters’ programs last four semesters: in each semester, you must take the total courses equivalent to 30 credits ECTS, in order to complete the total of 120 credits ECTS needed to finish your masters’ program. If you decide to study a master in France, you must know that each student can take the decision on how to distribute the courses, depending on the academic and professional project of the student. The majority of courses offered by French Universities are divided into lectures where theoretical knowledge is taught, and Practical Work, that are lessons where students have to put into practice the knowledge acquired during lectures.
In France, as Masters’ Programs last two years, they are divided into:
· Master 1 (M1): Being the first year of the masters’ program, you will study the most general courses of your program. It is important for you to know that when you finish the M1 you will not receive a Masters’ degree, but only a certificate of having finished the first year. To receive your Master’s degree, you will need to finish your M2.
· Master 2 (M2): This is the second year of your Masters’ program, where you will study more focused and specialized courses. Although there are candidates that, because of their previous studies or professional experience, are admitted directly to the M2, we advise you to apply initially to the M1 and it will be the Admissions Committee who, after reviewing your profile, decides if you start the M1 or go directly to the M2. Generally, during the M2 you will be able to decide which orientation you will give to your Master (Professional Master or Research Master).
When taking your decision of studying a Master in France, you have to also keep in mind that in this country there are several types of Masters’ programs:
· Professional Master: This is the type of master which is focused in the industry requirements, and looks for students to have a fast entry in working life. If your main objective after finishing your master is starting or continuing your professional life, this will be the ideal program for you. During this Master, you will receive lectures taught by different French businessmen and will have the opportunity to do professional internships.
· Research Master: Are those masters’ programs in which students receive a high level of theoretical knowledge, and at the same time, have to write and present a research thesis. If your goal is to continue with a doctorate program, or do research and teaching, doing a Research Master will be the path to achieve so.
· Specialized Master: Offered only by the Grandes Écoles, these are full time programs that last one year. Their objective is to give a very specific and specialized knowledge in a particular subject of interest of the private sector. Being very intensive programs, students will receive theoretical lectures, do an internship and write a dissertation.
In case of being interested in applying to a Masters’ program in France, you should keep in mind that the academic year in this country begins between September and October, and finishes between May and June. You will find two ways to apply to these programs in France: the first one is through the CampusFrance system (as long as your country had signed the CEF agreement), and the second one which is sending your application directly to the University. It is important for you to check the admission procedures of the program of your interest to know through which way you will have to send your documents.
Doctorat: In France, doctorate programs are taught by Doctoral Schools that are usually tight to a University. All the research during the doctorate program is done under a Research Unit conformed by several doctorate candidates that are undertaking research in a similar subject under the supervision of a director. If you wish to pursue a doctorate program in France, you will first need to have a masters’ degree as well as the acceptance of the thesis director. Doctorate programs in France last approximately three years.
Costs of studying a postgraduate program in France
In France, there are 83 public universities. Due that in this country there is educational equality between French and international students, the latter have the right to pay the same amount for tuition as French students do in public universities.
In France, the amount you will have to pay for tuition in a public university is determined by the State. For the year 2012, this amount was 250 euros per year for a Master’s program and 380 euros for a doctorate one. This makes France one of the cheapest countries to do a postgraduate program.
However, it is important to highlight that tuition in private Grandes Écoles is much higher, and can be between 3,000 a 10,000 euros per year.
To live in France, depending on the city where you study, you will need between 700 to 1000 euros per month for your living expenses, food, transportation and entertainment. As a student in France, you will be able you will have the right to work up to 964 hours during the year, which is equivalent to 60% of the 35 hours per week that are usually worked in the country. During your study period, you will be able to work part-time, while in vacations, you will have the possibility of working full time without exceeding the maximum hours allowed per year. In France, the minimum wage is 9,40 euros per hour. Keep in mind that you will have to pay approximately 20% of your salary on taxes.
In France, scholarship and financial aid programs are offered by several institutions as the French Ministry for European and External Relations, the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research, the higher education institutions, the research institutions, and the Regionals Councils.
One of the most complete scholarship program to pursue a postgraduate program in France is the Eiffel Program, which finances international students to study a Master or a Doctorate program, in the fields of Sciences, Engineering, Economy, Management, Law and Political Sciences. For the Masters’ programs, the scholarship gives 1,181 euros per month plus other additional benefits, for up to 24 months. For doctorate programs, the amount given is 1,400 euros per month plus other additional benefits for up to 10 months. Usually the call starts in September and closes in January. However, we highly recommend you to read additional information in the web page http://www.campusfrance.org
To obtain more information about scholarships and financial aid in France, you can log into the web page http://www.campusfrance.org/fria/bourse/index.html#