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Last update on June 04, 2021

Besides universities and colleges in Paris, there are several other courses and specific classes you can take to study abroad in Paris.

If you want to study in Paris, you will find lots of opportunities to further your higher education alongside lots of international and French students. Besides universities and colleges in Paris, there are a few other courses and specific classes you can take to further your education while living in Paris. Universities in Paris, colleges in Paris, vocational studies, distance education, night courses, bachelor’s, and master’s are all viable options for anyone wanting to study in France.

Study in Paris

Anyone who has passed their French bac or baccalauréat is legally entitled to an education at one of France’s publicly funded universities; foreign students can also enter with an equivalent school-leaving certificate or other degree. The public university system may not be the most prestigious source of higher education (enseignement supérieur) in France, however, it does offer an extremely wide range of studies. The most prestigious universities in France are the grandes écoles, which generally follow specific educational streams such as science, engineering, or business, and require entrance exams to apply.

Expatica’s complete guide to studying in France outlines the main universities in Paris, application processes, costs of studying in France, types of universities in France, French visas and grants for students, and much more.

Depending on the duration involved, there are several types of education in France for adults.

Shorter technical and vocational studies in France

A two-year undergraduate technical diploma can be undertaken at Instituts Universitaires de Technologies (university technology establishments), and lead to the DUT (Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie), the universities leading to the DEUST, Diplôme d’Etudes Universitaires Scientifiques et Techniques.

Students can opt for shorter higher education programs, lasting two or three years, and the study is usually more vocational. These professionally orientated programs can lead to various diplomas:

  • BTS (brevet de technicien supérieur, higher technician diploma) – you will find courses leading to this diploma in special sections of some secondary schools;
  • DUT (diplôme universitaire de technologie, university technical diploma) – courses leading to this diploma are undertaken at IUTs (instituts universitaires de technologie, university technical institutes);
  • DEUST (diplôme d’études universitaires scientifiques et techniques, diploma of scientific and technical university studies) – obtained from technical courses undertaken in universities;
  • paramedical degrees prepared in specialist schools.

High achieving students can opt to continue their studies once they’ve obtained one of these diplomas.

Universities in France

The very best students take two years of studies – prepatory classes or prépas – so they can sit for an entrance exam, concours, to get into the collection of top schools in France known collectively as les grandes écoles for engineering, business, and politics or administrative studies.

Pupils are selected on the basis of their achievement record at higher secondary level. Students in prépas classes routinely study 60–70 hours per week, and many don’t perform well enough to get into the school of their choice, and any given concours can only be repeated once.

Upon completion of these studies students sit competitions in schools as a function of the selected specialism: business schools, schools for engineers, humanities and science (écoles normales supérieures). After admission into these schools, the studies themselves generally last three years.

Graduation from a grande école is a ticket to success in France and it is rare to find a top-level French politician or business leader who is not a product of one of these schools. This is not to say that some state-run schools don’t also have excellent reputations.

France’s higher education system conforms with the European Higher Education Area. Using the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), one credit corresponds to the student workload required to successfully complete a course module. These credits can be accumulated and transferred. The curriculum of a program is organized into six-month periods and teaching units (modules).

Graduates will obtain a French qualification, depending on their course of study.

Bachelor’s degree (Licence)

  • Licence: A Bachelor’s degree with academic orientation that allows one to continue with a master’s programs.
  • Licence professionnelle: A degree with a professional orientation that allows one access to the labor market.

<Master’s degree

  • Master: The Master’s program has either a professional or an academic orientation.
  • Titre d’ingénieur: Qualified master’s degree in science and engineering.

Distance higher education

Télé-enseignement universitaire is offered to students who are unable to attend regular courses. Several universities cooperate in this. The Centre national d’Enseignement à Distance (CNED) provides training leading to a large variety of diplomas, adult education courses and competitive examinations for civil service positions.

Lifelong higher education

Education permanente is a system of continuing education allowing people with full-time careers to attend evening classes in universities, and thus obtain a degree without interrupting their working schedules. The Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers (CNAM) offers such facilities leading to the award of an engineering diploma. Some Catholic universities may organise upgrading traineeships and courses leading to diplomas.

Higher education training in industry

Several higher education institutions (public and private) offer professional training ‘en alternance’ (sandwich courses), consisting in theoretical training and practice periods in business or industry.

Other forms of non-formal higher education

Both private and public institutions have ‘Universités du Troisième âge’. In these universities, senior citizens are offered two options: either to follow university courses with other students or attend seminars and lectures especially devised to improve their life and cultural background. Their advice is also sought when it comes to choosing study topics of common interest. Finally, cycles of physical education, handicraft, cultural visits and outings are also organized.

Courses in Paris

There are also other ways to continue your lifelong learning in Paris.

Le Cordon Bleu Paris
8 Rue Léon Delhomme
75015 Paris, France

If you’d like to change your life and become a chef, you can opt to study at le Cordon Bleu. The school is located in the 15th arrondissement which is the largest district of Paris. Located between Montparnasse and the Parc d’Expositions of Versailles, you will find the school in a quiet and safe, residential neighbourhood. Surrounded by food in every form – cafes, restaurants and grocery stores.


7, Cité Falguière
75015 Paris, France

The Women’s Institute for Continuing Education or WICE provides innovative programmes such as art, history, lifestyle and culture, languages, visual arts and creative writing for the international English-speaking community of Paris. Classes are taught by experienced and committed professionals, including practicing artists, writers and trained teachers.

Parsons Paris

14 Rue Letellier
75015 Paris, France

Students can choose from a range of studies such as communication design, illustration, fashion design, fine arts or photography at Parsons Paris. They can also choose to take evening classes, take up a part-time study or sign up for the certified programmes. There is also a bachelor of Fine Arts degree that prepares them for entry into their profession.