French higher education is accessible to holders of the 'Baccalauréat', the secondary school leaving certificate (normally taken at the age of 18).
Higher education is provided both by universities and the so-called 'Grandes Ecoles' (Graduate Schools). The latter regroup engineering and business schools. Admission is highly competitive and the granted diploma is a Master’s degree. Unlike the situation in many other countries, French engineering and business schools have an excellent reputation, better than universities.
Master’s Degree : 80,000 graduates / year :
- 50 % in Universities : DESS & DEA (a one-year postgraduate certificate taken after a Master’s degree) - 50 % in engineering and business 'Grandes Ecoles' (Graduate Schools) - Excellent reputation
French Higher education proposes three levels of qualification :
- Licence after 3 years of study - Master after 5 years of study - Doctorat after about 8 years of study.
The Graduate schools of Food, Agronomy and Agri-Business, as the Groupe ESA, aim to train graduates to become senior executives and managers of firms in the agricultural and food industry sectors.
School year calendar :
The school year is organised as follows : - Autumn semester : Classes begin during September and end around December 20. - Spring semester : Classes begin the first week of January and end around June 20, except for degree courses. - Holidays : Autumn break : 1 week in late October and early November. Christmas : 2 weeks in late December and early January. Winter break : 1 to 2 weeks in February. Easter : 1 week in April.
In each course, changes may occur for academic reasons.