How to Apply to an International University in France in 2020

The lovely and sophisticated France attracts around 300,000 international students from both EU and non-EU countries each year. A viable reason for France’s popularity is that universities have lower tuition fees compared to other European countries. If you also dream of studying at colleges and universities in France, you are probably curious to know more about the application process at French universities.

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Choose the right degree subject in France

There are plenty of disciplines you can pick from to study in French or in English in France. Here are just of few of the most popular options to consider:

Choose the right French university

Here are some top French universities you should consider for your study abroad adventure:

Prepare to apply

  1. For some universities, you can apply directly on their website.
  2. Carefully check entry requirements: standardized tests, such as the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT are required for admission to most of the undergraduate and graduate degree courses.
  3. Apply to at least three different institutions in order to increase your chances of being admitted.
  4. Non-EU students will be required to pass the compulsory Preliminary Admission ("demande d’admission préalable" - DAP). Apply for DAP at the Culture and Cooperation Service of the French embassy in your home country.

Exemptions from DAP

  • Children of diplomats posted in France and who themselves currently live in France
  • Candidates coming from a partner university with a cooperation agreement (special procedures apply)
  • Students with a scholarship from the French government, or a French organisation
  • Candidates holding a French, International, European, French-German, French-Italian or a French-Spanish baccalaureate

You can check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.

View scholarship opportunities in France.

Where to apply for a French university programme

The application procedure is actually different depending on the country you come from.

  1. EU and EEA students can simply apply directly at the university, under the same conditions as French students.
  2. Non-EU/EEA students should apply through an online application system formerly know as CEF and currently called the 'Studying in France procedure'. Through this system, you may also apply for your visa online and track the progress of your application.
  3. If you are already living in Europe but you don’t have European citizenship, you will have to apply through the French embassy or consulate in the European country where you are residing.

Apply to a degree in France

Different application at technological universities, Grandes Écoles, and other specialised schools

Apply through an online system for preliminary admission at Parcoursup which starting 2018 replaces the Admission Post-Bac (APB) platform.

Applicants are selected according to the results obtained at very competitive entrance examinations that take place at the end of a two-year preparation programme called "Classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles" (CPGE - Preparatory classes for Grandes Écoles).

You will also have to take on a personal interview.

Language requirements for universities and colleges in France

Most degrees provided by French universities are taught in French, but you will find several study programmes taught in English, particularly for Master and PhD level.

The following language tests of proof of language proficiency are accepted by colleges in France:

For French: DELF, DALF, TCF.

Exemptions from the requirement to demonstrate proficiency in the French language:

  • Holders of the French baccalauréat, the international or European baccalauréat, and the Franco-German baccalauréat
  • International recipients of scholarships from the French government, international organizations, or foreign governments whose grants are administered by an approved French entity
  • Nationals of states where French is the official language
  • Students graduating from bilingual programs in which French was one of the languages


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Required application documents

  • Prior admission or pre-registration certificate provided by the university
  • Campus France authorization
  • Passport or ID card (valid for the duration of your stay)
  • ID/passport type photos
  • Copies of graduation diplomas and their French translation
  • Registration fee (185 EUR/year for a Bachelor's degree, 260 EUR for a Master’s and 390 EUR for a PhD)
  • Social security registration (free)
  • A civil liability certificate
  • Students from the EU: a copy of your European health insurance card
  • Resume (only in some cases, and only for postgraduate degrees)
  • Cover letter
  • French and/or English Language certificate (depending on tuition language of chosen degree)
  • Transcript of records (a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA or equivalent)
  • Copies of diplomas (if not available, a certificate stating that you graduated)
  • Proof that you can fund your stay in France (with a minimum of 800 euros per month)

University application deadlines in France

Application for French universities are available twice a year:

  • fall admission by 1 February and 1 April (in some cases, after this date as well, based on available spaces)
  • spring admission by September 15, and after this date, based on available spaces
  • Applications for Post-Bac (Parcoursup): from 22th January to 13th March
  • Applications for TCF during DAP process: from November until January 22nd

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Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter

  1. Institutions inform students of their admission decisions between June 15 and September 15 for programmes beginning in October. Thus, you will only have around a month to prepare all the arrangements for your departure to France.
  2. If you a non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizen, you will have to apply for a student visa.
  3. If you plan to study more than six months in France, you will have to apply for a residence permit at French local authorities ("Préfecture").
  4. You will have to prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself. 

If you are from the EU, you can use the European health insurance card. If you are non-EU, you are eligible for the national health insurance offered in France. You must register on the website to benefit from French social security health spending repayments.

Once you arrive in France, register in person at your university in France. You must pay about 90 EUR as a contribution to campus and students life. Get free updates about top courses abroad.

More about the French student visa based on your nationality

Here is detailed information about the student visa application process for students coming from a non-Eu country:

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