How to Study Nursing in France for International Students

While more than 25,000 new nurses are joining the workforce in France each year, the demand for nurses continues to remain high. According to OECD data (2019), there are 108 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants in France, a figure that is much lower than some of its neighbors – Switzerland has 176 nurses per 10,000 residents, Germany has 132, and Belgium has 112. In this article, we will go over how international students can study nursing in France.

In 2009, the French Ministry of Health introduced a reform that changed the structure of the nursing program. Since then, nursing education in France has moved from vocational programs to higher education programs, requiring nurses to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This means that to become a nurse in France, you are required to have a French state diploma in nursing, known as the Diplôme d’Etat d’infirmier(ère).

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What Nursing Degrees are in France?

A DEI (Diplôme d’Etat d’infirmier), or French state diploma in nursing, could be obtained by completing a nursing program in a university or a nursing school in France, also known as Institut de Formation en Soins Infirmiers (IFSI).

The program is spread over six semesters of twenty weeks each, bringing the training period to a duration of three years. It is a combination of theoretical training of 2,100 hours and clinical training of 2,100 hours.

Upon the completion of a nursing diploma and after a few years of working experience, nurses can pursue an advanced nursing education and train to specialize in certain areas such as pediatric nursing, anesthetic nursing, operating theatre nursing, and others.

You can become a specialized nurse or an advanced nurse practitioner by enrolling in a master’s degree or a professional degree (depending on your area of specialization) at a university or nursing school.

You should note that to work as a nurse in France, you must be registered at a regional health agency, also known as Agence Regional de Santé (ARS).

Cost of Studying Nursing

France is a popular destination for international students looking to further their higher education. One of the reasons is the low cost of tuition in public universities, where the higher education programs are subsidized by the French government.

Citizens from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland can study nursing in a public university in France for less than a few hundred euros per year. Even for students who are not citizens of these countries, the tuition fees are much more affordable than in the US or UK. Non-EU students only need to pay about three thousand euros a year to study at a French university or nursing school.

On average, an international student would need at least 700 euros a month to cover his or her living expenses in France – accommodation, food, transportation, health insurance, books, etc. However, this figure can go up to 1,500 euros a month if you are living in cities like Paris, Nice, Bordeaux or Lyon, where the cost of accommodation is higher.

Requirements to Study Nursing in France

International students who want to study nursing and obtain a nursing diploma in France are required to apply to an IFSI or a university that offers nursing programs. Depending on the institution you wish to attend, the application can be done either directly to the school or through the Parcoursup platform. Parcoursup is the national admissions platform for those who are looking to further their higher education in France.

In France, the number of students who can enroll in a nursing education program each year is determined by a quota that is set by the Ministry of Health. The quota is established based on a needs assessment and is then allocated to training institutions or universities in each region.

As a result, there is a limit to the number of students a nursing school or institution can accept. Students who wish to gain entrance must sit for a competitive entrance exam and only those who had successfully passed the exam will be enrolled in the three-year nursing program.

The language of instruction is in French (for example, Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University). Students must, therefore, demonstrate proficiency in the language before studying nursing in France as international students. In addition, there are certain admission conditions you must fulfill before your application. These requirements vary depending on your nationality, country of residence, and educational qualifications.

For more information, please check the Parcoursup website or the website of the school you are applying to.

Best Nursing Schools in France

1. Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University (UVSQ)

Founded in 1991, Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University is a French public university that offers more than 200 multidisciplinary courses. There are 5 campuses located across different places in Yvelines, a department in the region of Île-de-France.

Students who wish to study at this nursing school in France must apply through the Parcoursup platform. Students are also required to register in both the university and one of its 8 partnered IFSIs, as classes will take place at both the UFR Simone Veil – Santé and at the IFSI. UFR Simone Veil – Santé is one of the faculties at the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines campus that offers courses in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, psychotherapy, occupational therapy, and others.

The UVSQ also offers a master’s degree and professional degree for nurses who choose to further their studies to become advanced nurse practitioners or nurse anesthetists after a few years of working experience.

2. IFSI Diaconesses de Reuilly

IFSI Diaconesses de Reuilly is a nursing school located in Paris, France. The institute offers three diploma courses for those who wish to become a nurse, caregiver (aide soignant), or childcare assistant (auxiliaire de puériculture).

To enroll in the nursing program at IFSI Diaconesses de Reuilly, students are required to take part in an entrance examination. Successful candidates will then begin their three-year program at the institute, which consists of theoretical (taught by Paris Descartes University and in connection with a few other nursing institutes) and practical training.

3. Institut de Formation Interhospitalier Théodore Simon (IFITS)

The next best nursing school in France for international students is the Theodore Simon Interhospital Training Institute, a school that is located at Neuilly-sur-Marne, a city that is in the north-central of France. This institute offers training to aspiring nurses, paramedics, caregivers, childcare assistants, nurse anesthetists, and others.

Each year, only 201 students are accepted into the nursing program at the IFITS. Upon obtaining 180 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits and completing the training, graduates will obtain a state diploma of nursing.

4. Aix-Marseille University

  • Nursing Program
  • Degrees Offered: State Diploma of Nurse in Advance Practice

Aix-Marseille University (AMU) is the largest university in the French-speaking world. With 8,000 staff and nearly 80,000 students across the university’s 5 large campuses, this research-intensive public institution houses 121 research structures that are in partnership with some of the major national research organizations.

Nurses with three years of professional experience can apply to this nursing school in France to get their State Diploma of Nurse in Advance Practice (Diplôme d’état d’infirmier en pratique avancée). Some of the documents required for the application are a copy of the applicant’s identification document, transcripts, certificate of diploma, cover letter, proof of registration with the National Order of Nurses, and financial records.


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