Universities France’s system of higher education enrolls 2.2 million students,
two-thirds of whom attend the country’s 83 public universities.
The nation’s universities have responded to the
needs of today’s world by developing degree Training in medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry is provided
France’s 83 publicly financed universities are well programs that prepare graduates for careers, only in the universities, which operate in close
including many in technical fields. cooperation with major teaching hospitals, known as
distributed around the nation, from the Sorbonne in Paris CHUs (centres hospitaliers universitaires). Education in
• University-based engineering programs now confer 60%
(founded in 1257) to the high-tech campus of the University these fields is organized around a common curriculum.
of the engineering degrees awarded in France each year.
of Nice-Sophia-Antipolis. Private schools and institutes • Career-oriented licence degrees, known as licences pro- International students and medical education in France
play an important but relatively small role in French fessionnelles, are available in 700 different areas. It is not possible to enter the general medicine
higher education. • Technical programs are offered in 25 specialty areas in curriculum mid-way through. Unless they have already
university-based institutes of technology (IUTs, instituts obtained a medical degree in their home country,
The universities offer programs universitaires de technologie). international students from outside the European Union
in all disciplines, • Management programs are available in university- wishing to study medicine in France must, regardless
based institutes of business administration (IAE, of their academic preparation, enroll in the first year of
including the sciences (mathematics, chemistry,
instituts d’administration des entreprises). the first cycle of medical education, known as PCEM, and
physics, biology), technology (computer science,
must pass the examination given at the end of that year.
engineering, electrotechnics, materials), litera- • Programs in political science and economics are based
Students who pass that examination may then jump to the
ture, languages, the arts, the social sciences, law, in university-based institutes of politics (IEP, instituts
level that they had reached in their home country, subject
economics, business, health and medicine, and d’études politiques).
to an assessment by the program’s administrators of the
physical education. All of the nation’s universities • Journalism and communication are taught in equivalence of the student’s prior preparation. It is also
are public. Research, a key function specialized institutes in several universities. Examples possible to take the concours d’internat de médecine à
The universities offer programs at every level; of the universities include CELSA at the University of Paris-Sorbonne titre étranger (internship exam for foreign candidates),
their graduates receive nationally regulated Energized by 62,000 research faculty, 300 doctoral and the Centre Universitaire d’Enseignement du but the number of places is very small. Information is
degrees known as national diplomas: the departments spread throughout the nation’s Journalisme at the University of Strasbourg. available from France’s embassy in your country.
licence (3 years), master (5 years), and doctorate universities manage research programs in close Specialized degree programs have been created for
(8 years). cooperation with more than 1,200 university- international medical students and graduates. Beginning in
What are diplômes d’université (DU)? fall 2010, the DFMS (diplôme de formation médicale spé-
based laboratories. France’s doctoral departments
In parallel with the system of national diplomas, which cialisée, 1–2 years) and the DFMSA (diplôme de formation
have always been open to international exchanges,
do not vary from one university to another, individual médicale spécialisée approfondie, 6 months to 1 year)
but the pace of internationalization has accelerated
universities offer degrees that are not regulated at the replace the old AFS (attestation de formation spécialisée)
markedly in recent years. Of 67,000 doctoral can-
national level. These have a variety of names, the most and AFSA (attestation de formation spécialisée approfon-
didates in French institutions in 2008, more than
common of which is diplôme d’université (DU). Another is die). Developed in cooperation with a number of countries
25,000 came from outside France.
diplôme d’études supérieures d’université, or DESU. DU and to meet their needs for advanced medical training, the
DESU programs reflect academic orientations specific to the degrees are recognized in the graduates’ countries.
university or respond to regional economic imperatives. All these programs require a good knowledge of French,
evidence of which may be required.
They are not national diplomas, but they offer international
students many opportunities to gain university-level www.campusfrance.org
knowledge and experience in very specific areas. > find your course > Subject information sheets