How to Study in France for International Students (4 Steps)

France is perhaps one of the most famous destinations in Europe – and the entire world. Its capital, Paris, is home to the majestic Eiffel Tower and the lovely Louvre museum. While it is largely a cosmopolitan country, its historical structures – including Lascaux’s ancient cave drawings and Lyon’s Roman theatre – serve as testaments to the country’s rich history and culture.

With these beautiful locations, France has become a top choice for leisure – as well as global education. In 2019, it was named the 9th best destination for international students. If you wish to enroll in any of France’s 70 distinguished universities, then here’s everything you need to know about studying in France for international students – including the general application and admission processes.

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Studying in France for International Students

Here is the general process of how international students can study in France.

  • First, international students need to be able to finance their studies in France. Even though many international students get accepted into French universities, some are not able to attend simply because they can’t afford it. So, your first priority is to be able to finance your education.
  • Then, you will need to prepare your application requirements so that you are eligible to apply.
  • After you have done that, you need to apply to French universities.
  • Finally, when you get accepted, you need to apply for a student visa in France. In the first step, you have prepared for the finances, so you are now ready to study in France as an international student!

1. Cost of Studying in France

In France, international students pay the same tuition as locals. As such, a baccalaureate (license) degree in France will only cost you an average of $3,144 (EUR 2,770) a year. Master’s degrees cost about $4,279 (EUR 3,770) while doctorate degrees average at $5,176 (EUR 4,560) a year.

Living costs vary per region. Monthly expenditures can range from $908 (EUR 900) to $1,589 (EUR 1,400) if you live in the areas of Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, or Nice. As for Paris, where most of the universities are, the cost of living ranges from $1,362 to $2,043 monthly (EUR 1,200 to 1,400).

 2. General Application Requirements for studying in France

Apart from submitting the essential documents, language proficiency in French or English is required of international students.

General Language Requirements (Undergraduate)

French is the primary medium of instruction in universities. With that being said, applicants need to demonstrate proficiency in the French language to study in France as international students. If you don’t, then you need to take French lessons. Afterward, you need to take any of these exams:

  • TCF – Test de connaissance du français
  • Common European Framework of Reference for Languages exam
  • DELF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française) and DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française)

The minimum scores vary per university, as such you need to check the official website for its exam requirements. To give an example, at Sorbonne, the acceptable score for the TCF is B2. At PSL University, a DALF level of C1 is required.

As for English proficiency, most universities do not require their applicants to undergo IELTS or TOEFL. Again, this depends on the university. As with the case of PSL University, applicants should have a Cambridge score of at least C1.

General Language Requirements (Graduate)

Post-graduate applicants also need to take a French proficiency exam. For example, at Sorbonne, Master’s applicants should have a TCF result of C1. At PSL University, the DALF/DELF results should be C1 or B2. Given that the minimum scores differ per school, you should always refer to your university’s official website.

What’s great about French universities is that they offer a lot of post-graduate courses in the English language. If you are a non-native speaker applying for such a degree, then you are going to need to take an English proficiency exam to study in France.

The grades need not be high, compared to the requirements in other countries. This is evidenced by the language requirements at Sorbonne. Post-graduate applicants may be admitted with the following scores (minimum):

  • TOEFL iBT = 76
  • TOEFL (computer-based) = 230
  • TOEFL (paper) = 550
  • IELTS = 6
  • Cambridge Exam = C
  • Advanced Cambridge Test = B

At PSL University, the English requirement for graduate applicants is at least C1 for the Cambridge exam.

Application Requirements (Undergraduate)

Here are the application requirements to study in France as an international student. Interested applicants need to course their application through the Parcoursup, which is the national platform for pre-registration in the first year of higher education in France.

Below are the documents that are usually needed from international students:

  • High school diploma/ certificate of secondary education (translated to French)
  • Copy of ID
  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum vitae/ resume

What’s great about Parcoursup is that registration is free of charge. However, you may need to pay a processing fee amounting to $113 (EUR 100).

Application Requirements (Graduate)

The same general requirements are needed from graduate applicants. Of course, you need to furnish a copy of your bachelor’s degree instead of a high school diploma.

Universities usually require more documentation from post-graduate applicants. As such, you should check the complete list on your university’s admissions website.

For instance, at PSL University, post-graduate applicants need to submit the following documents:

  • Personal statement that includes your personal and career goals
  • Professional references or letters of recommendation
  • Professional certifications
  • Personal work portfolio (thesis, research project)
  • Supporting documents that depict past internships or professional experiences
  • Offer of a study-work contract
  • Entrance exam (some programs)

Additionally, you also need to pay an application fee of $56 (EUR 50) when you submit these papers.

At Sorbonne, the additional requirements are markedly lesser. Most programs only require a motivation letter and a two-page thesis proposal. Compared to other French universities, Sorbonne doesn’t levy an application fee for prospective students.

3. Application Procedure

If you want to study in France as an international student, you definitely need to know the French application process. Application procedures vary accordingly since Parcoursup manages undergraduate applicants. The universities, on the other hand, process applications from post-graduate students.


As mentioned, most French universities process applications via the Parcoursup portal. As such, they all follow the same application cycle/deadline. Registration usually opens in December, with the application process lasting from January to March. Admission acceptance is usually finalized by May.

As with most countries, schooling in France starts in mid-September to early October.


As for master’s and doctorate applications, intake and deadline dates vary from university to university. As such, it is recommended that you check the school portal for details.

To give an example, PSL University application dates depend on the responsible department. The intake starts as early as December (Physics), to as late as March (Chemistry). Deadlines range from March to June.

As for Sorbonne, the application cycle usually lasts from mid-October to mid-May the following year.

4. Student Visa

Once you get accepted at your university of choice, you can finally apply for a student visa. This is the final step of studying in France as an international student and the easiest step. After all, this is the main requirement for a student visa. When you request the acceptance letter, you should make sure that it contains your full details, the program details, including the duration of the course.

Other requirements include:

  • Proof of accommodation or ‘attestation d’accueil’ if you are going to live with family or friends
  • Proof of sufficient funds, which should be a minimum of $820 or EUR 615 a month
  • Proof of medical insurance ($40,500 or EUR 30,000)
  • Proof of return ticket

Remember, you should be at least 18 years of age upon application.

According to the official visa website of France, you need to pay a visa fee of $56.68 if you come from an EEF country. If not, you need to pay a fee of $112.

If you have enrolled for a three-month course, you will be given a short-stay visa. If your training is more than 3 months – up to 6 months – you will be given a temporary long-stay visa.

For courses that take over 6 months to finish – as is the case with most undergraduate and post-graduate degrees – you will be granted a long-stay visa, which is similar to a residence permit.


Applying to a French university can be quite difficult since most universities have very stringent admission requirements. Being accepted means that you’re now part of the elite circle of international students in France. Make sure to take this distinction with you as you finish your education with flying colors.


I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page!