Higher education in France

Higher education in France is organized around three degrees according to the standard European education system: Bachelor’s degrees (Licence), Master’s degrees (Master), and PhDs (Doctorat). This organization was established in order to harmonize higher education programs in Europe, to encourage student mobility, to facilitate the readability of qualifications, and to ensure their international recognition. The European system was implemented in French universities in 2007 but France has kept some of its specificities.



Traditionally, Bachelor’s degrees last 3 years and start after high school (secondary education), Master’s degrees last 2 years, and PhDs 3 additional years.
However, several options are open to students who want to study nuclear science and technology. They can choose between pursuing:


  • an advanced technician degree (lasts 2 years, starts after high school)
  • an Associate’s degree (lasts 2 years, starts after high school)
  • preparatory classes (last 2 years, start after high school. Highly selective programs)
  • a Bachelor’s degree (lasts 3 years, starts after high school. Is also open to students who attended advanced technician degrees, Associate’s degrees, or preparatory classes and want to pursue their studies further)
  • a Master’s degree (lasts 2 years, starts after a Bachelor’s degree)
  • a Graduate School of Engineering (lasts 3 years, starts after preparatory classes)
  • a PhD (lasts 3 years, starts after a Master’s degree or a Graduate School of Engineering)



Universities award MS degrees and engineering schools award MEng degrees.
Each semester consists of several course units (CU). The syllabus of each CU defines the knowledge and skills that students must acquire in order to be fully competent in the field. To each CU is assigned a certain number of ECTS credits. The sum of all ECTS-credits for one academic year is of 60 ECTS-credits regardless of the field or degree.
Students must complete 60 ECTS-credits per year in order to pass the class.
In France, an advanced technician degree is worth 120 ECTS-credits, a Bachelor’s degree is worth 180 ECTS-credits, a Master’s degree (whether MS or MEng) is worth 300 ECTS-credits, and PhDs are worth 480 ECTS-credits.



Higher education FR