Further Education in France

Find out how to apply for a place in a further education institution in France, if you're looking at continuing studies in France after the BAC, or after completing secondary school studies in another country...

Update: 14/12/2017: The admission Post Bac system is currently being replaced by a new system, Parcoursup, this page will be updated when more information becomes available.

How does the French Admission Post Bac system work?

Applications for the vast majority of further education institutions in France are done via the government portal Admission Post Bac (APB). The APB system applies to students already in France in their final year (Terminale), as well as EU and non-EU students with a few exceptions, which are outlined below. Students should be aged 26 or under. It's important to understand exactly how the system works to ensure that no deadlines are missed on the APB platform. It is also essential not to wait for the last minute to carry out each stage of the procedure, as servers can be saturated as deadlines approach. The dates for each step of the procedure are clearly outlined on the APB website. The Public Service website also has details on the Post Bac admissions procedure

Foreign Students

Non-EU students who want to enter the first year of a degree course (licence) at a French university or first year of PACES (medical studies for medicine, dentistry, midwifery or physiotherapy) must follow a different procedure. In this case, international students who have completed or are about to complete their final year of secondary studies in a country other than France must submit a request for preliminary admission (demande d'admission préalable - DAP).
  • Download the DAP form - to be submitted in January at the latest (the exact date is stipulated each year on the form)
This form must be sent to the Cultural Department of the French Embassy in the country of residence. Foreigners already living in France must fill in the green form (dossier vert) and send it to the first university of their choice (they can only apply to a maximum of three universities). In all cases all foreign applicants must pass a French proficiency test, for which there is a fee.

Non-EU Students

Applicants from certain non-EU countries (for example USA, Russia and China) have to follow a slightly different procedure for some of the courses available. The courses that these procedures apply to can be found in the Candidate's Guide (in French). These students have to follow a CEF procedure via the Campus France website in their country of origin. They will also have to apply for a student visa at the French Consulate in their country of residence.

Which schools can I apply to via APB?

Students can apply for places for degree courses at University (facultés, commonly referred to as Fac), and for a wide variety of diplomas or Classes préparatoires at Lycées, IUT, management schools, arts schools and engineering schools. The full list of courses available for which APB is compulsory is listed on the APB website (see the Guide du Candidat, in French, which is updated annually) as well as the list here under formations (in French).

The Six Stages of the APB System

There are six essential stages to the APB. The first stage begins around mid-January, when students can register and start selecting their further education choices. The APB site is comprehensive with details of each course, but it is advisable before the initial registration process that students already have an idea of the kind of studies they want to do and where. There are many resources for this (for example Studyrama) and most schools have a website with information about their courses on offer. The APB site can be consulted from the beginning of December but it is not possible to register before the first stage begins in January.

From January 2018, the system will change slightly to make the system more fair and less selective. Students can register up to 10 schools of their choice. These are called voeux (wishes).  Students should always choose a degree course at the University (fac) in their school region (Académie), and place this at the end of their list. This is to guarantee a place for further education after the BAC, in case there are no propositions in other schools. Students can register their voeux until about the third week of March. After this deadline it is not possible to add any other schools to the list. During the next stage, which last approximately two weeks students confirm their choices and, if required, submit their CV or any other documents requested by the school. For each of their voeux, additional requirements are clearly outlined on the APB website. The third stage at the beginning of May is mostly dedicated to ensuring that any additional requested documents and applications have been received by the schools and rarely requires input from students. However, if documents were not sent on time, students will not be able to continue their application procedure for the chosen school. The fourth stage of the process is to finalise the order of the chosen schools (the voeux) by preference. It has be completed by the end of May and it is probably the most important part of the process (see below).

The Admission Procedure

Stage five is the start of the admission procedure and begins one week before the BAC and lasts less than a week. Students start to receive offers (or refusals) for places at their selected schools. There are a few things that can happen during this procedure:
  • A place is offered (formation proposée)
  • Students are advised they are on the waiting list (liste d'attente)
  • The application is rejected (refus de l'etablissement)
If a number of schools have offered a place to the student, only the highest proposition on the list is retained. So if a place is offered at a school which is number 4 on the list, all of the other propositions in the list below number 4 are automatically cancelled. There can only be one place offered during each phase of the admission procedure. This is why it is essential to ensure that when ordering the list of preferences, that choices have been carefully selected. If a place is offered, the student can then click on Yes (Oui). The choice is definitive on the condition that they successfully pass the BAC (or exam equivalent if applying from abroad). However, if they are on the waiting list, they can select Yes, but (Oui, mais), in the event that they are offered a place higher on their preference list in the next round of the admission procedure, if they are on a waiting list. The above is repeated again twice, once near the end of June and then a few weeks later in mid July. At the same time, if no places have been offered students can begin the sixth stage known as the procédure complémentaire, which runs until the beginning of September, and allows applicants to re-apply at schools that have available places left. It should be noted that non-EU applicants cannot participate in the procédure complémentaire if they are currently resident outside of the EU. Once a place has been offered and accepted by the student, the enrolment procedure can begin with the school itself. Students can find the enrolment details on the APB website or contact the school directly through the school's website.