Tuition fees in France: Everything you need to know
Author: Study.eu Team — Last update: 18 March 2020
Starting in autumn 2019, international students will have to pay higher tuition fees at French universities. This is a drastic change from an effectively free tuition system, where students needed to pay only around 200 euros per year. At the same time, though, there will be three times as many government-sponsored scholarships for foreign students.
In our guide, we have compiled all relevant information about tuition fees at French universities:
Can you study in France for free?
Yes – if you are a citizen or permanent resident of a country of the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland. The EEA includes all countries of the EU (European Union) as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Although studying in France is then not entirely “free”, you will only be charged a very small amount when you study at a public university.
However, if you are not a citizen of an EEA country or Switzerland, or already a permanent resident, you will have to pay higher tuition fees in France.
You will also have to pay higher tuition fees at a private university.
Who has to pay tuition fees to study in France?
Students have to pay higher tuition fees if they are citizens of countries that are not part of the EEA, or Switzerland. The EEA includes all EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
All other international students will have to pay higher tuition fees. For instance, if you are from Africa or Asia, your tuition fees will be higher than for French students. Campus France, the official French government agency, offers additional details.
How much does it cost to study in France?
The tuition fees at public universities are set by the French government and are the same across the country.
If you are a citizen or already a permanent resident of a country within the EEA, not much has changed – you will still be charged very low amounts for your tuition:
- 170 euros per year for Bachelor’s (Licence) programmes,
- 243 euros per year for Master’s programmes,
- 601 euros per year in Engineering courses in at certain institutions,
- 380 euros per year for Doctorate (PhD) programmes.
However, all other international students will now be charged higher amounts for Bachelors and Masters degrees. The new tuition fees for international students, starting September 2019, are:
- 2,770 euros per year for Bachelor’s (Licence) programmes,
- 3,770 euros per year for Master’s programmes,
- 380 euros per year for Doctorate (PhD) programmes – the same amount as for Europeans.
Note that the values above refer only to public universities; the cost of tuition at private universities can be higher. They generally range from 3,000 to 20,000 euros per year.
Are there scholarships for international students?
Yes, and the French government announced that they would increase the availability of scholarships alongside the new higher tuition fees. The official CampusBourses tool offers an overview of grants scholarships to study in France.
When do you have to pay the cost of tuition as a student in France?
You usually have to pay the whole annual tuition fee at the beginning of an academic year, i.e. September.
Do you need to pay for a French student visa?
As an international student from outside the EU, you may need the VLS-TS visa (“étudiant”). The visa not only entitles you to live and study in France, but you can also work up to 964 hours per year (20 hours per week) and travel freely in the countries of the Schengen area – which is a great chance to explore Europe.
When applying for the VLS-TS visa, you will need to pay 99 euros. This amount will be due after your university application, when you have been accepted by the school – and you will need the visa before you can travel to France for your studies.
Once you arrive in France, you need to validate the visa within 3 months. That costs another 60 euros.
What are the monthly cost of living in France?
Student life in France doesn’t have to be expensive. Even in cities like Bordeaux, Lyon or Toulouse you can get by with 850 to 1,000 euros per month, including accommodation. That is still moderate for European levels. In some smaller towns you might spend even less. But the exception is Paris, the capital: expect to spend 1,250 to 1,400 euros per month at the very least – and consider yourself extremely lucky if you can score a place in a students’ hall of residence.
What are the best universities in France?
Universities in France enjoy a high reputation for research and teaching. Institutions like École Polytechnique or Sciences Po regularly rank high, among the best universities in Europe and the world. If you’re interested in details you can check out the international rankings of French universities.
What are the application deadlines to universities in France?
Traditionally, most universities set their application deadlines between February and April for degrees starting in autumn of the same year. However, in line with France’s most recent reforms for international students, things may be managed differently from 2019 onwards. Consult with the universities to which you want to apply to be absolutely sure.
In what other countries can I study for free?
If you are a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland you won’t be affected by France’s new tuition fees – but in any case, you have plenty of other options in Europe where you won’t have to pay tuition fees. Germany, Austria, Sweden or Finland are popular choices.
If you are a citizen of a country outside the EEA, there aren’t many countries in Europe where you can study for free. Germany is the most popular option. In Norway, universities are technically for free, but the cost of living are so much higher than elsewhere that it might be more affordable to choose a cheaper country where universities charge tuition. Austria or Poland are affordable alternatives with modest tuition fees of 1,500 to 2,000 euros per year.
France is one of the top study destinations in Europe, with low tuition fees, an excellent living standard, and great attractions for both tourists and international students.
But is it the right choice if you want to study an English-taught Engineering degree? And which are the best engineering schools for Anglophone students?
Let’s find out!
How many English-taught engineering schools are there in France?
While we cannot give you an exact number of universities, we can tell you that on our portal alone, you can choose from over 230 English-taught Masters in Engineering provided by French universities. Most are offered as Master of Science (M.Sc.) or Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) degrees.
Here are a few engineering schools we recommend in France:
- Université de Lyon
- Institut Polytechnique de Paris
- EURECOM – Graduate school and Research center in Digital Science
How do I know if an Engineering degree is taught in English?
We only list English-taught degrees, so as long as you search for an Engineering degree on our portals, you should be just fine. You can even check out the specific English language requirements for each study programme.
Of course, French universities (or other websites) can list additional Engineering courses on their web pages. In that case, you’ll have to do a bit of research to find out if those programmes are taught in English or if they’re open to international students. Should you struggle to find this information, don’t hesitate to contact the university directly.
To apply at most engineering schools in France, you’ll have to pass one of the following widely accepted English language tests:
Learn more about IELTS vs TOEFL vs PTE Academic.
The best English-taught engineering schools in France
Based on data from the QS Rankings, the following are the best universities in France that offer Engineering programmes taught in English:
- Ecole Polytechnique
- Sorbonne University
- Université PSL
- Université Grenoble Alpes
- TELECOM Paris
- Institut polytechnique de Grenoble – Grenoble Institute of Technology
- Université Paris-Saclay
- Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA)
- Ecoledes Ponts ParisTech
Discover other top-ranked engineering schools in the full QS Ranking.
Affordable English-taught engineering schools in France
France is known for having very affordable tuition fees. Most public universities don’t charge more than 500–2,000 EUR per year for their programmes.
But what about engineering schools? Almost 50% of the 230 Engineering programmes on our portal cost under 5,000 EUR per academic year, which means they’re much cheaper than programmes in other popular study destinations.
But you can find even more affordable engineering schools in France. Here are a few options where tuition starts at under 1,000 EUR per year:
In some cases, low tuition fees only apply to students from the EU/EEA, while other internationals need to pay extra. Therefore, make sure you double-check the type of tuition that applies to you.
Application requirements at English-taught engineering schools in France
Here are some of the most common application criteria you need to meet at engineering schools in France:
- High school diploma for a Bachelor’s
- Bachelor’s diploma in Engineering or a related field for a Master’s
- Academic transcript of grades
- Proof of English language proficiency
- Motivation letter
- CV (only at some universities)
How to become an engineer in France
Becoming an engineer in France is a straightforward process. You only need to finish your studies successfully and graduate with an Engineering degree from one of the academic institutions accredited by the French Engineering Accreditation Institution (CTI).
While you can study an Engineering degree entirely in English, you will need to learn French to live and work in France.
With a job at an international company, you might get away with only speaking English; but even in that case, you still need to ‘parle un peu français’ to move around, go shopping, and expand your social circles.
Here are several free resources to get you started:
Best Global Universities for Engineering in France
These are the top universities in France for engineering, based on their reputation and research in the field. Read the methodology »
Here are the best global universities for engineering in France
- Universite Paris Saclay
- Universite Grenoble Alpes (UGA)
- Sorbonne Universite
- Grenoble Institute of Technology
- Universite de Lorraine
- National Institute for Applied Sciences – Lyon
- Université de Lille
- University of Montpellier
- IMT Atlantique
- MINES ParisTech
Best Engineering Universities in France
The Engineering education (“Grandes Ecoles d’Ingénieur”) that France has to offer is exceptionally good considering the fact that these “Grand Ecoles” of engineering are very picky in selecting and accepting only the top students. The standard of the engineering curriculum in French engineering schools is outstanding – combining training in both theoretical and practical fields of engineering. Before we talk about the engineering degrees in France and what they actually mean let’s first list some of the best engineering Universities in France.
The reason to pick an engineering University in France is because the quality of engineering education offered in the 250+ selective engineering colleges of France is considered one of the best in the world. Here are our top picks:
- Grenoble Alpes University
- Université de Lorraine
- INSA Lyon
- Polytech Montpellier
- Sorbonne University
- Université de Lille
Grenoble Alpes University
The Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA, French: meaning “Grenoble Alps University“) is a public research university in Grenoble, France. Its Engineering and Management department is divided into 8 courses. With 55,000 students and out of those 8,500 being international students, Grenobles Alpes University just might be the place for you. It is in association with national research organizations and major international instruments and builds its research and innovation on a global scale. They compete with the best universities in the world thanks to their innovative research and rank in the top 10 French Universities and 100-250 in the world.
Université de Lorraine
The M.S. in Civil Engineering of University of Lorraine offers a program of higher education for students with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering or any other related fields to Civil Engineering.The program’s objective is to train students to become future managers by providing essential scientific, technical, and economic resources in order to prepare them for supporting or leading studies in design, sizing, diagnosis and execution of various works in construction companies, engineering offices and research. The main international exchanges concern first and foremost the border universities in the Lorraine: Luxembourg, Liège, Saarbrücke.
The University of Luxembourg proposes a Master’s degree “Energy and Economic Efficiency” co-authorized with the University of Lorraine.
The Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon or INSA Lyon is a Grande École forming multidisciplinary engineers.The five-year curriculum aims at training engineers who possess skills in the primary areas of science and engineering. Students may pursue a PhD after completing the 5-year curriculum. Graduates from INSA Lyon are called Insaliens.
In addition to language, philosophy and culture lessons, engineering students benefit from training dedicated to business knowledge and management. Research at INSA Lyon consists of 23 laboratories, more than 600 researchers and teacher-researchers, 650 doctoral students and more than a thousand industrial contracts with the socio-economic world.
Polytech Montpellier is one of the 205 French engineering schools accredited to the 1st September 2019 to issue an engineering degree. The university offers six engineering courses. Their mission is ensuring the training of engineers, under the status of student or apprentice in initial or continuing training, to cultivate international relations, and to contribute to scientific activities by working with the University’s laboratories and to help promote the results, with the aim of raising students’ awareness of innovation and research.
Sorbonne University (with 3 campuses) is a public research University in Paris, France. It is one of the world’s most prestigious Universities having won 33 Nobel Prizes, 6 Fields Medals, and one Turing award. One of its divisions is “The Faculty of Sciences and Engineering”. Covering all fields of knowledge in science and engineering, the Sorbonne University Faculty of Sciences and Engineering supports research at the heart of disciplines, research at interfaces, the development of partnerships with companies, and promotes the emergence of new themes to respond to major challenges of the 21st century.
Université de Lille
The University of Lille is rich in an exceptional cultural and scientific heritage, with its 72,000 students (9,502 of them international), 6,700 staff, 66 research units and a training offer that covers all disciplinary fields. The University of Lille stands out in the region for training, research and innovation and through its commitment to social issues. Thanks to the multiple partners of University of Lille, you have many choices for a study trip abroad: Scotland, Germany, Spain, Austria, Finland, Portugal, Mexico.
The university’s mission is continuing to help you build your professional project by guiding you in choosing the most suitable training, advising you in finding funding for your training, supporting you in your procedures for validating prior learning to reduce training courses etc.
Types of Engineering Degrees in France
An engineering degree in France is granted only after completing 5 years of engineering studies. The 5 year engineering degree in France is known as “Diplôme d’Ingénieur” and is the equivalent of Europe’s “Master’s degree”.
- Specialized Engineering Degree
About 20 engineering schools in France offer this specialization course in a specific field.
- 1 year course for engineering students who have studied engineering for 5 years
- 2 year course for students who have pursued only 4 years of higher education in engineering.
- Specialized Master (MS)
The Specialized Master (MS) is an accredited and a trademark degree offered only by member engineering colleges of the Conference of Grandes Ecoles (CGE) in France. This degree is for graduates with specialized knowledge and expertise in specific areas. This is a very focused and technically oriented course.
Engineering degree career options
Engineers are precise and logical. They can follow any type of instructions including design specifications. They’re always prepared for a challenge and a chance to work hard to show off their skills. Engineering graduates have a variety of career options, including different kinds of engineering roles, jobs in related areas such as supply chain and jobs in other industries such as finance and IT.
Skills you can add to your CV after you graduate:
After you’ve graduated and are looking for a job you might not be totally aware of what you have to offer and/or where to direct those offers to. When getting your degree you will have also obtained a lot of useful skills and qualities that will hopefully help you get the career you want. Skills and qualities like: analytical thinking, capacity for details, organizing skills, planning, research skills, teamwork, logical thinking, problem solving, and project management are all what you will be able to add to your CV to help your future employer know you better.
Alongside your newfound skills, here are some career areas options for you to choose that are within the capacity of your university degree.
Career areas to choose:
- Mechanical Engineer
- Materials Engineer
- Electrical Engineer
- Electronics Engineer
- Biomedical Engineer
- Technical sales Engineer
- Chemical Engineer
- Petroleum Engineer
What Engineer graduates end up choosing:
If you’re still unsure as to what area of work in engineering to pick or want to choose something that is more popular and easier to get, here is a chart with research conducted by Trendence UK on “what engineers graduates opt for” to help you make a decision or just ease your curiosity.
|Areas of employment||Percentage|
|Professional, scientific, and technical||21%|
|Information and communication||7%|
|Wholesale and retail trade||5%|