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.

The French further education system is excellent and there are a number of different types of schools that you can apply for. Public universities have extremely low tuition costs, making them a popular choice for foreign students. You can study all disciplines at French universities from sciences to languages and journalism, medicine, psychology or law. Most courses are in French, but there are a few options to study in English or other languages.

How does the French Parcoursup system work?

Applications for the vast majority of further education institutions in France are done via the government portal Parcoursup, which replaced the old Admission Post Bac (APB) system in January 2018. Parcoursup 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 Parcoursup platform. It is also advisable not to wait for the last minute to carry out each stage of the procedure, as servers may be saturated as deadlines approach. 

The dates for each step of the procedure are clearly outlined on the Parcoursup website. The Service Public website also has details on the Parcoursup admissions procedure.

Foreign Students

If you are a non-EU student who wants to enter the first year of a degree course (licence) at a French university or first year of PACES (medical studies for medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, midwifery or physiotherapy) you must follow a different procedure. If you are an international student who has completed or are about to complete your final year of secondary studies in a country other than France, you 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)

Send this form to the Cultural Department of the French Embassy in the country of residence. If you are already living in France, fill in the green form (dossier vert) and send it to the first university of your choice (you can only apply to a maximum of three universities).

Note that for PACES, there is a limit on the number of places accorded to non-EU students, which is 8% of the numerus clausus (the number of available places).

In all cases all foreign applicants must pass a French proficiency test, for which there is a fee.

Non-EU Students from USA, Russia and China

You have to follow a slightly different procedure for some of the courses available, if you are from a non-EU country such as USA, Russia or China. You will need to apply via the Campus France website in your country of origin. You will also have to apply for a student visa at the French Consulate in your country of residence.

Which schools can I apply to via Parcoursup?

You 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. You can search for available courses via the Parcoursup website.

The Essential Stages of the Parcoursup System

The first stage begins around mid-January, when students can register and start selecting their further education choices. The Parcoursup 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.  

You can register up to 10 schools of your choice on Parcoursup. These are called voeux (wishes). You should always choose a degree course at the University (fac) in your school region (Académie), and place this at the end of your list. This is to guarantee a place for further education after the BAC, in case there are no propositions in other schools. You can register your voeux until about mid March. After this deadline it is not possible to add any other schools to the list. During the next stage, which lasts approximately two weeks you can confirm your choices and, if required, submit your CV or any other documents requested by the school. For each of your chosen voeux, additional requirements will be clearly outlined on the website. 

The Admission Procedure

During the next stage near the end of May, until the end of September 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 you are offered places for more than one course, you can only accept one. The choice is definitive on the condition that they successfully pass the BAC (or exam equivalent if applying from abroad). However, if you are on the waiting list, you can select Yes, but (Oui, mais), in the event that you are offered a place in another school for which you are on the waiting list. 

At the same time, if no places have been offered you can begin the next stage known as the procédure complémentaire, which runs until 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 Parcoursup website or contact the school directly through the school's website.