Anyone who deals with the study system in France will sooner or later come across abbreviations such as LMD, DUT or CM. Even if the terminology seems strange at first glance, the German and French study systems show fewer differences than initially thought. The reason is the Bologna reform, as part of which the tiered Bachelor and Master structure was also introduced in France, a country located in western Europe defined by 800zipcodes.
The restructuring of the French higher education system enables German students to find their way into the study system more quickly and it is easier for them to have coursework acquired in France recognized.
The following advisory text reveals the special features of the study system in France.
Structure of the study system in France
The higher education system in France has many different degrees. In general, three study phases can be distinguished. As in Germany, students in France first complete an undergraduate degree that leads to a first university degree (license). With this first degree, students gain access to a further course of study, the master’s. This can be followed by a doctoral degree.
In addition to the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, there are also a number of country-specific degrees within the French university landscape:
- Technical and professionally oriented degrees from art, architecture and music colleges
- BTS (Brevets de Technicien Supérieur)
- DUT (Diplômes Universitaires de Technologie)
The French study system is designed in such a way that, if the relevant entry requirements are met, a change to another type of university is usually possible without any problems. Many students use this to switch, for example, from a short-term study to a university degree or from a university to a Grande École in France.
The so-called Admission Parallèle offers international students in particular the opportunity to join a Grande École. If you want to apply for a master’s degree, you can often undergo an alternative application process as part of the Admission Parallèle. Participation in the extensive entrance exams of the Grandes Écoles, called Concours, is therefore not required. Submitting an application folder is usually sufficient.
The country-specific degrees
In addition to the internationally recognized university degrees, there are various country-specific study programs within the higher education system in France. This is mainly to short programs that are popular with local students.
Certificate of Technicien Supérieur (BTS)
French technical colleges and grammar schools offer a two-year, professionally-oriented short course. The Brevet de Technicien Supérieur, or BTS for short, can best be compared with a dual study program. Practical training in a company is possible parallel to the course (BTS en alternance).
The courses mainly provide training for professions in the service sector. However, many graduates add a university degree to their training. With the BTS you qualify for the License Professionelle at a university.
Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie (DUT)
The Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie (DUT) is also one of the professional degrees in France. In contrast to the BTS, the DUT is offered in France at so-called Instituts Universitaires de Technologie (IUT). These vocational training centers operate largely independently, but formally belong to the universities.
The DUT combines theory and practice. During the two-year course, students complete internships and work on various projects. Due to the well-founded theoretical education, many local students after the DUT opt for a professionally oriented Bachelor’s degree at a university (License Professionelle).
Other degrees in the study system in France
The Instituts Universitaires Professionalisés (IUP) exist parallel to the IUT in France. In contrast to the DUT and BTS, the courses at the IUP are only open to high school graduates with one or two years of study experience. The programs are predominantly geared towards technical, scientific and commercial professions. They usually last three years and often lead first to the license and then to degrees at master’s level.
Country- specific degrees are also awarded in France by the specialized universities. The Écoles Specialisées mainly offer courses in the fields of architecture, gastronomy and hotel, art, fashion and music. They differ in terms of their length of study. The range is two to five years. There is also no uniformity with regard to the degrees. Since not all degrees are officially recognized, it is always advisable to obtain information about the exact status of the degree in advance.
Shorter study stays in France
There are several study options for students who do not want to complete a full course of study in France:
- Semester abroad: A semester in France is a great opportunity for international students to study at a French university and to get to know everyday study life in France. In many cases, English-language courses can also be taken in addition to French-language courses.
- Summer Sessions: Some universities in France offer summer programs lasting several weeks for international students – in English and French. Summer sessions make it possible to acquire knowledge in certain subjects and to immerse yourself in French culture. Company visits and guest lectures by subject matter experts are also often part of the program.
- Language courses: A language course in France is ideal to improve your own French. Many universities offer language courses at various levels. The duration of the courses also varies, so that students can choose the course model that is right for them.
The study system in France compared to Germany
Since the Bologna reform, academic degrees in France and Germany have been more comparable and there are only a few differences. However, the higher education system in France is still more permeable and flexible than the German system. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that admission to a bachelor’s and master’s degree at a French university is generally not restricted. A selection only takes place after the first year of the master’s degree. Switching from a vocational training center to a university or from a university to a Grande École is usually unproblematic.
Although Germany and France have switched their study structures to the Bachelor / Master system, there are still country-specific degrees in France. These include the DUT and BTS as well as the university’s own degrees, which are awarded by some Écoles Specialisées. Since there is no equivalent to these degrees at German universities, it is important to find out about the chances of recognition in Germany in advance.