Briefly about the Master’s degrees in France

  • Master’s degree in France offers both research programs and applied courses with a focus on practical skills and work experience. The country is known for strong higher education that trains valuable professionals in the fields of business, management, engineering and commerce. Three French universities are included in the QS ranking of the 100 best universities in the world[0].
  • Price. Education in public universities is fixed at 286 USD/year for EU students and 4,436 USD/year for non-EU residents. Grandes écoles are more expensive — on average, a year costs 2,353-8,236 USD.
  • Requirements. You can apply with a Bachelor's degree in the same scientific field. Admission to grandes écoles is competitive, so you will need to pass specialized exams (GRE / GMAT).
  • Language. The country’s official language is French, and most of the programs are taught in it. There are programs in English, mainly in the fields of business, management and natural sciences. Before admission, applicants need to confirm command of the relevant language on at least B2-C1depending on the program level.
  • Visa. Non-EU students apply for a long-stay visa. The cost for those registered in the Campus France system is 59 USD. For others, the visa's price is 116 USD.
  • Work after school. During the studies, students can undergo an internship, and after receiving a degree — get a job and be issued a temporary residence permit for employees.
  • Low cost. A year of study in a Master's degree program at a state university costs 286 USD for EU students and 4,436 USD for non-EU students. Also, in some universities there is a system of "partial benefits": with it, the fee for non-EU residents comes down to a mere 286 USD. Grandes écoles are more expensive, but even they are rather affordable compared to other universities in Europe. For example, the average cost of a Master's degree for non-EU citizens in Italy is 8,236 USD/year, in Germany — 10,166 USD/year, and in the Netherlands — 16,473 USD/year.
  • Study in English. This is a good opportunity to get a degree from a French university without having to learn the state language. There are especially many English-language programs in the fields of business, management, engineering and technology.
  • Mandatory internships. Gaining hands-on experience is included in the schedule. Moreover, the rights of students during work are protected by law, and the right to take a day off or get a sick leave is strictly regulated.
  • French culture. It doesn't matter which region of the country you live in — each has a unique and rich history, natural and cultural attractions, and specialties from the local cuisine.
  • The need to learn French. Most programs are taught in this language. But even if choosing an English-language program, without knowing the state language there is a risk of encountering everyday difficulties and prejudice from the locals.
  • Admission to grandes écoles. There are no admission tests to state universities. But in grandes écoles, applicants pass specialized exams. There is usually no minimal bar set, but in reality, very high scores will be required for admission. Although even that doesn’t guarantee enrollment — a motivation letter, recommendations and, in some cases, work experience in the field also play an important role for the commission.

Cost of a Master's degree in France

Information is exploratory. For accurate information, refer to the official website of the school.
TitleCityMaster
361ENS — ParisParis1,153 USD
802University of Pierre and Marie CurieParis299 USD
1393Paris-Sud University — Paris 11Paris299 USD
1574University of StrasbourgStrasbourg4,423 USD
1645EP — PalaiseauParis5,822 USD
1806Paris Diderot UniversityParis295 USD
1937Joseph Fourier UniversityGrenoble301 USD
2318Aix-Marseille UniversityMarseille295 USD
2649Paris Descartes UniversityParis295 USD
27910Montpellier UniversityMontpellier277 USD

ExpenseAverage cost
Exams76 USDthe average cost of one of the language proficiency exams — DELF, DALF or TCF
Campus France processing feeif your country is affected by the "Etudes en France" procedureDepends on the country
Rent824 USD/month
Food71 USD/month
Transport74 USD/monthtravel pass within the Île-de-France region of Paris
Visa59 USDif confirmation of enrollment in a French university and a receipt for payment of the Etudes en France registration fee are on hands
InsuranceFreecompulsory medical insurance for students aged 18 to 28
Study materials59 USD/month[1]

Application process for Master's degree in France

The admission procedure depends on the type of educational institution — public / private university or grande école. Documents in the public university can only be submitted through the organization Campus France. It deals with the processing of all applications of foreign students. According to the rules of the French Foreign Ministry, foreign candidates can choose no more than 7 universities in one or more related specialties[2]. Usually the change of specialty is impossiblean exception is for-profit schools, where admission is possible to any specialty by passing an international exam (GRE, GMAT, etc.). A candidate has to continue the studies in the same scientific field as during the Bachelor's degree.

Students from 45 countries participating in the program Etudes en France go through several stages:

  • Creation of an electronic dossier according to instructions;
  • Payment of the registration feedetails will be sent to the email address after checking the dossier, it takes about 5 working days;
  • Interviewcan happen via Skype with representatives of Campus France of a particular region. Candidates have to explain their desire to study in France, justify the choice of university and specialty, and talk about their career plans.

Important: not all universities accept applications through the online dossier. Some universities are not connected to the system and require sending documents by mail. But even if an applicant fills out the application themselves, it is still necessary to go through all the stages of the Etudes en France procedure before contacting the consulate — without registering for Campus France, it’s not possible to apply for a visa.

Also note that some universities establish additional entrance tests — an interview, an exam or presentation of a future research project.

Once a student successfully enrolls, they must immediately apply for a visa. Master's students receive a long-stay visa, which is equivalent to a residence permit. Read more about the process of obtaining it here.

Admission to the Master's degree program (Mastère spécialisé) at the grandes écoles is not standardized. The procedure and the specific list of documents depend on the specific educational institution, and applications, as a rule, are submitted in the applicant's personal account on the university website. To enter higher education, a candidate needs to pass a specialized exam — for example, GRE or GMAT.

List of documents required to apply for Master's degree in France

Approximate list of documents:

  • Bachelor’s degreein the same field as the Master's program and academic transcript;
  • Research plannot always, depends on the institution and the program;
  • Certificate confirming the level of the language (TCF 400+ / DELF 75+ / DALF 50+ for French-speaking programs, TOEFL 85+ / IELTS 6.5+ for English-speaking);
  • Specialized entrance examsrequirement of certain grandes écoles (GRE / GMAT);
  • CV;
  • Motivation letter;
  • Letters of recommendation.

In addition to the standard set of documents for admission to French public universities, it is also possible to attach a copy of the employment record book. This is necessary to demonstrate professional experience, especially if the applicant had worked in the same specialty for which they are applying. Also, sometimes a letter from the future academic advisor in France needs to be provided.

Grandes écoles often require specialized exams and organize additional entrance tests (interviews, portfolio assessment, presentation and/or defense of a research project).

The minimum level of French for admission is B2. Some specialties, such as Law, require C1 level for enrollment.

Important: All documents must be notarized and translated into the language of the chosen program (French or English). The exact list must be checked on the website of the selected university.

Validation of foreign studies and degrees in France

Unless there is an agreement between France and the applicant’s country on the mutual recognition of education, qualifications and academic degrees, students from other countries must go through the procedure of legalization. This is necessary for the educational document to have legal power abroad. Since France is included in the list of 120 member countries of the 1961 Hague Convention, the process is simplified: it is enough to add a special sign — an apostille.

Deadline for submission of documents in France

Each academic year, the deadline for submission changes. As a rule, the acceptance of applications through Campus France opens at the beginning of December. Before the beginning of March, applicants must create, fill out and send for verification an electronic dossier; by the end of April — pay the registration fee and pass an interview. If the application is sent through the Campus France system, the response will come in the dossier Etudes en France approximately until mid-May or early June. If documents are submitted to a university or a grande école that is not connected to the system, the answer will come directly to the personal account on the university website. After receiving the invitation, the student must confirm the decision to study at the selected university until July[3].

Master’s taught in English in France

University of Nantes laboratory

France strives to attract as many international students as possible. Therefore, out of 1600+ Master's programs, about 1200 are available in English. Mostly offered by grandes écoles, especially business and engineering schools. You can view the full list in the catalog of Campus France.

When choosing a specialty in English, it is important to consider several features:

  • Often only Master 2 programs are available. English courses are offered by both public universities and grandes écoles. However, in the second case, it is often possible to enroll only in the second year of a Master's program. This means that the applicant must already have 60 credits in the first two semesters of Master 1.
  • Mainly technical and business specialization. While liberal arts programs can be found, the country's top universities offer mostly courses in business, management, engineering, and technology.
UniversityCityProgramDurationAvg. cost per year for non EU-citizens
École Polytechnique de l'Université de NantesNantes
  • Computer Sciences;
  • Automatic Electronics & Electrical Energy;
  • Mechanics;
  • Process and Bioprocess Engineering.
  • 1 year8,825 USD
    Institut Polytechnique de ParisParis
  • Nanosciences;
  • Quantum, Light, Materials, and Nano Sciences;
  • Sciences and Technology for Energy.
  • 1 year4,436 USD
    Institut d'études politiques de Paris — Sciences PoParis
  • Economic Law;
  • European Affairs;
  • International Management and Sustainability;
  • Governing the Large Metropolis.
  • 2 years21,179 USD
    Université de ParisParis
  • Biomedical Engineering;
  • Frontiers in Chemistry;
  • Earth and Planet Sciences, Environment: Fundamentals of Remote Sensing (FRS).
  • 2 years4,436 USD
    Université Paris-SaclayParis
  • Biological and Chemical Engineering for a Sustainable Bioeconomy;
  • Algebra, Geometry and Number Theory (ALGANT);
  • Nuclear Energy.
  • 2 years9,413 USDexact cost depends on the program

    Master's degrees usually continue in the same direction as the Licence. The most developed areas in France are management, finance, commerce and business administration, which are studied in public universities and grandes écoles. The MBA originated in the USA, but France was the first European country to introduce that type of degree[4].

    Here are some of the best programs according to the French rating of L'Etudiant[5].

    UniversityCityProgramsDurationAvg. cost per year for non-EU citizenspartical benefits may apply
    Aix Marseille UniversitéMarseille
  • Internal Organization Audit;
  • Management Control;
  • Enterprise Communication Management.
  • 2 years4,436 USD
    Université de Bourgogne, IAE DijonDijon
  • Sector Management;
  • Human Resources Management;
  • Finance.
  • 2 years4,436 USD
    Université de Caen Normandie, École Universitaire de ManagementCaen
  • Heritage Management;
  • International Management and Commerce;
  • Marketing, Sales.
  • 2 years4,436 USD
    Aix Marseille UniversitéMarseille
  • Instrumentation, Mesure, Metrology and Telecommunication Networks;
  • Health Engineering;
  • 2 years4,436 USD
    Université Grenoble AlpesGrenoble
  • Health Engineering;
  • Nuclear Engineering;
  • Informatic Methods Applied to Enterprise Management.
  • 2 years4,436 USD
    Université de Franche-ComtéFranche-Comté
  • Information, Communication;
  • Applied Foreign Languages.
  • 2 years4,436 USD
    La Rochelle UniversitéLa Rochelle
  • Biotechnologies;
  • Sciences and Engineering Materials;
  • Environmental Sciences.
  • 2 years4,436 USD
    "The Cube" building at Aix-Marseille University campus

    Affordable Master's programs in France

    Most programs of public universities for non-EU students cost 4,436 USD per year, but there are universities in which there are partial benefits — exonérations partielles[6]. The current cost of training is to be clarified on the website of the selected university.

    Here’s a list of some universities with partial benefits for international applicants:

    TypeUniversity
    State universities
  • Aix-Marseille Université;
  • Université de Franche Comté;
  • Université Le Havre Normandie;
  • Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne;
  • Université Paris Descartes;
  • Université de Rouen Normandie;
  • Université polytechnique des
  • hauts de France.
  • University Groups (Communautés d'universités et établissements)
  • Université Paris-Saclay;
  • Université Grenoble Alpes;
  • Université de Lyon;
  • Université Côte d'Azur;
  • Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté;
  • Université Bretagne Loire.
  • Higher normal schools (Écoles normales supérieures)
  • École normale supérieure (ENS);
  • École normale supérieure de Cachan (ENS Paris-Saclay);
  • École normale supérieure de Lyon (ENS Lyon);
  • École normale supérieure de Rennes (ENS Rennes).
  • Universities of a special type (Grands établissements)
  • Institut d'études politiques de Paris (SciencesPo Paris);
  • Institut polytechnique de Bordeaux (Bordeaux INP);
  • Université de Lorraine (UL);
  • École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS).
  • Education in grandes écoles, as a rule, is much more expensive than in public universities. For example, at HEC Paris one year of Master's degree costs 2,400-17350depending on the program EUR[7]. But even there, relatively affordable programs can be found in different specialties.

    UniversityCityTuition cost per year
    Institut Mines-Télécom, Business SchoolEvry9,119 USD
    École de management de Strasbourg, Université de StrasbourgStrasbourg10,295 USD
    South Champagne Business SchoolTroyes10,354 USD
    EDC Paris Business SchoolParis9840[8] EUR
    École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles de ParisParis824 USD
    École des Mines — ParisTechParis4,118 USD
    École des Ponts — ParisTechParis3,636 USD
    École nationale supérieure de techniques avancées — ParisTechParis3,118 USD
    École nationale supérieure des télécommunications — Télécom ParisTechParis3,118 USD
    École Centrale de NantesNantes2,942 USD[9]

    MBA in France

    QS Ranking[10]Business School CityDurationCost
    6Institut européen d'administration des affaires (INSEAD)Paris10 months.89000covers tuition, study materials, language courses, insurance, sports, etc. EUR[11]
    5École des hautes études commerciales (HEC)Paris15 months.33,357 USD[12]
    18École des Hautes Etudes Commerciales du Nord (EDHEC)Lille10 months.13,325 USD[13]
    28Grenoble École de ManagementGrenoble 18 months.37,593 USD[14]
    31Emlyon business schoolLyon11 months.20,591 USD[15]
    43Institut d'Economie Scientifique et de Gestion (IESEG), School of ManagementLille18 months.25,260 USD[16]

    Types of Master's degree in France

    State Master's Degree (Diplôme national de master, or DNM) can be awarded by educational institutions like EPCSP (établissements publics à caractère scientifique, culturel et professionnel). Those can be both universities and some grandes écolesin partnership programs of double degree with universities. Since France has European credit system, the main condition for obtaining a degree is to have a total of 300 credits (120 for Master's studiesover the course of 4 semesters (2 years) and 180 for undergraduate studies[17]).

    The type of degree awarded depends on the particular institution of higher education. In public universities, as a rule, you can get:

    • Master 1 — after the first year of study. DNM is not yet available, but 60 credits can be accumulated. Upon completion of the first year of a Master's program, students choose a specialization, which will be reflected in the future diploma.
    • Master 2 recherche, or research degree (after the second year of study). This specialization is suitable for those who intend to continue into doctoral studies. The program focuses on theory and basic research.
    • Master 2 professionnel, or professional (after the second year of study). Its goal is to provide highly specialized knowledge and prepare for work in a specific field. The course is focused primarily on practice. Theoretical and seminar classes, as well as long-term internships, provide a quick immersion in the industry.

    Important: after two years of Master professionnel, you cannot enter doctoral studies directly. However, after the first course, you can change the specialization to Master recherche.

    In some universities, there is no longer a division of the Master’s studies into two levels. Instead, students choose a professional or scientific direction before entering, study for two years and immediately receive a Master 2.

    Grandes écoles, which are part of the CGE (Conférence des Grandes Écoles), also award Master 1 and Master 2, but in addition to this they issue special degrees, for example:

    • Master of Science (MSc) — a non-state diploma and its value depends on the reputation of the particular school. As a rule, foreign students tend to choose this specialization.
    • Mastère spécialisé (MS) is received after completing a Master's degree as an additional stage of education. It provides purely practical skills and is especially appreciated by recruiters. Those who have completed the Bachelor's degree can only enroll in the Mastère spécialisé with three years of work experience[18].
    • Master in Business Administration (MBA) is awarded by business schools. Despite the fact that the diploma is non-state, it is highly valued in the labor market. Educational institutions themselves build the educational process and create unique programs[19].

    Studying in France

    Self-study at the Sorbonne Library

    The academic year lasts from September to June. The application process depends on the program and the university. A Master's degree at a public university lasts four semesters and includes theoretical, methodological and practical classes, as well as one or more internshipsdepending on the program. In total, students study 25-30 hours per week[20]. A lot of time is devoted to self-study, especially when writing a scientific work (la rédaction d'un mémoire). Grades for current assignments and exams are given on a 20-point scale. To get a sufficient number of study credits, students need to have an average of at least 10 points during the semesterat least 30 per semester.

    Writing a mémoire (graduate work or dissertation) is a mandatory final stage of studies. Some universities offer research methods courses, but the organization of the process is up to students and requires self-discipline. Regardless of the university, the general steps for creating a mémoire are:

    • Choosing the topicclarify the deadline on the university's website and the formulation of the research problem (problématique de mémoire);
    • Selection of the academic advisor (directeur de mémoire);
    • Preparation of a work plan and analysis of literature;
    • Basic research and collection of results;
    • Editing, together with the advisor;
    • Defense in front of the jury: presentation, answers to questions.

    The total number of pages for a research paper is 60-90 pages[21].

    Studying at grandes écoles is different from studying at public universities. Students have more freedom, often there is not even compulsory attendance. However, missing classes is rare. It is much more difficult to enroll in these institutions, and education is expensive, so students understand the value of their studies. Much attention is paid to the development of professional skills and internships; practice in one of the partner companies is an obligatory element of the program.

    Working while studying in France

    A long-stay student visa entitles you to part-time work — no more than 18-20 hours per week964 hours/year. In France, the minimum wage is guaranteed (salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance — SMIC). Today it is 10.29 USD per hour[22]. When calculating the final salary, you need to deduct the mandatory social security contributions — about 20%[23]. So, working 20 hours a week, a student can earn at least 772 USD monthly.

    There are three main employment options available to students:

    • At the university. Students can work on campus for no longer than a year. They welcome freshmen, work as tutors, help organize cultural and sporting events, and accompany students with disabilities. Working hours depend on the schedule, in this regard, there are restrictions: students cannot work more than 670 hours from September to June and more than 300 hours from July to August[24].
    • Outside the university. As a rule, this is part-time work in restaurants, bookstores, cultural and exhibition centers, libraries, tutoring or babysitting.
    • Internship. Depending on the program, an internship may be required for obtaining a degree. A contract must be signed between the university and the host organization[25].

    Graduate Internships in France

    Internships are most commonly a compulsory part of the program at public universitiesinternships not included in the compulsory programs, are prohibited, however, their importance is lower than that of the main course. Duration is one to six months924 hours. Students can take an internship both in a private and in a public organization. Is it compulsory to pay interns only if the internship lasts more than two monthswithin a single academic year. Shorter employment can be either paid or unpaid, depending on the conditions of the employer. Minimum payment — 3.106 USD per hour[26].

    As a rule, internships go like this:

    • Choosing a suitable vacancy. All positions that are related to a specialty or scientific research are suitable. The best resources to search can be found on the website of Campus France.
    • Hiring. Employers usually ask for a resume (CV), sometimes a motivation letter. Then the student undergoes an interview, according to the results of which he is offered employment.
    • Registration of documents at the university. Depending on the institution, candidates need to provide proof of successful recruitment and an application for an internship, approved by an official representative of the university.
    • Internship. Students' rights are strictly regulated by French law. You can find out more about the conditions, including time off and vacations, on the administration website.
    • The final stage. The employer provides a document indicating the total number of hours and wages issued. Some universities, such as the Sorbonne[27], ask to perform in front of a jury with a report on the results of the internship.

    Scholarships and grants for a Master's degree in France

    Education in public universities is not free. But students have the opportunity to receive a scholarship or research grant.

    • French government scholarship. This is the most popular option for funding a Master's degree program for foreign applicants. The scholarship covers education fees in the range of 5,295 USD and guarantees a monthly payment of 824 USD. One can also get help with accommodation, as well as other benefits. You can find out the exact eligibility criteria and apply on the website of the French government.
    • Erasmus scholarship. This is a set of programs within the European Union. The common scholarship fund is distributed among universities, research centers, faculty and students. The selection criteria and the amount of payment depend on the specific country and university. Generally, it can cover tuition, visas, accommodation and transportation costs588-2,353 USD/year.

    Work in France after graduation

    If a graduate student wants to start working in the country, they need to obtain a temporary residence permit (autorisation provisoire de séjour — APS). It allows you to stay in France for a year after graduation. Before signing an official contract, it is possible to work under the same conditions as while studying at the university — no more than 964 hours per year[28]. The validity period of the APS can be extended for one more year. To do this, a graduate has to find a job in the field relevant to their degree with a salary of at least 2,743 USD[29] and apply for a residence permit for employees and temporary workers (carte de séjour salarié ou travailleur temporaire).

    According to the Times Higher Education international rating, the best career prospects are available to graduates from three Parisian educational institutions[30]:

    • Graduate School of Engineering Centrale Supélec. It is a union of the country's two leading engineering universities — École Centrale Paris and École Supérieure d'Electricité. It has an excellent reputation among employers.
    • Graduate School of Commerce — HEC. One of its strongest programs is Management.
    • Polytechnic school. Its best areas of study are Natural Sciences and Engineering.
    Classes at the L'école Polytechnique

    The fastest to find work after a Master's degree are specialists in the fields of law, economics, management, science, technology and healthcare. For them, it takes, on average, 18 months, while a liberal arts Master’s requires 30. A degree in law, economics or management also increases the chances of an open-ended employment contract (contrat à durée indéterminée — CDI). The highest employment rate after graduation is for Masters in education: 95% are employed in government institutions[31].

    Masters are highly valued in the labor market not only in France and other European countries, but all over the world. A European degree is an indicator of quality education for employers.

    PhD in France

    Masters can continue their studies and pursue a PhD. PhD programs, on average, last three to four years. The learning process is similar to other European universities, but there are also some peculiarities:

    • Labwork. A student can sign a three-year contract (contrat doctoral) and thus finance their own doctoral research — the minimum monthly salary is 2,081 USD[32].
    • Tuition fees are the same as for Europeans. Unlike undergraduate and graduate programs, which are more expensive for non-EU residents, doctoral studies will cost 447 USD for all.
    • Possibility to receive a degree from two different universities. There are partner programs between universities. In this case, education, as a rule, takes place in two universities one after the other, and the student receives two diplomas[33].

    After completing doctoral studies, you can start a scientific career. A special feature of the French academic path is the division of teaching positions not only on the basis of the type of contract, but also by responsibilities. The path to the highest position of Professor may be different in each institution, but, typically, each subsequent promotion requires passing the agrégation du supérieur — a series of tests of the higher education committee[34].

    PositionType of contractAverage salary per month
    Maître de conférences (MCF)Permanent4,548 USD[35]
    Chargé de recherche (CR)Permanent4,576 USD[36]
    Professeur agrégé (PRAG)Permanent4,183 USD[37]
    Maître de conférences associéPermanent500-1000depending on the contract: full-time or part-time. EUR[38]
    Professeur des universités (PR)Permanent5,855 USD[39]
    Directeur de recherche (DR)Permanent5,965 USD[40]
    Professeur des universités associéPermanent2000depending on how many times has the contract been prolonged EUR[41]
    Attaché temporaire d'enseignement et de recherche (ATER)Temporary2,589 USD[42]
    Post-doctorantTemporary3,445 USD[43]
    Doctorant contractuelTemporary1400-1600depending on the responsibilities EUR[44]
    Chargé d'enseignementTemporary3,198 USD[45]
    Facts about Master's Degree in France
    Name in the language of the countryMaster
    DeadlinesFebruary-March
    Duration1-2 years
    Average cost per year
  • For EU students — 286 USDin state universities-2,353 USDin grandes écoles
  • For non-EU students — 4,436 USDin state universities-11,766 USDin grandes écoles
  • Min. language level
  • TCF 400+ / DELF 75+ / DALF 50+
  • TOEFL 85+ / IELTS 6.5+
  • Employment of graduates86%
    Percentage of enrolled in doctoral studies12%average result between several of the best universities
    Location on map