Some figures

  • 2 million students in France
  • 80,000 master graduates/year: 55% from universities, 45% from Grandes Ecoles (engineering and business schools)

Higher education is provided both by universities and the so-called “Grandes Ecoles”. The latter are third-level engineering or business schools. Admission from secondary school is highly competitive and the diploma granted is a master’s degree.

Unlike the situation in many other countries, French engineering and business schools have an excellent reputation, better than universities.

There are three levels of third-level training and education in the French educational system:

  • Licence (Bachelor’s degree): after three years of study
  • Master: after five years of study
  • Doctorate: after eight years of study

The academic calendar of the French educational system

Fall semester (September – December)

  • September: classes start
  • 20 December: end of classes

Spring semester (January – June)

  • January: classes start
  • 20 June (except degree courses): end of classes


  • All Saints (autumn break in late October/early November): 1 week
  • Christmas (end of December/early January): 2 weeks
  • Winter break (February): 1 – 2 weeks
  • Easter (April): One week

Some changes may occur for academic reasons in a given study programme.