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French Schools and College in Paris

Discover in a FAQ how it is to study in France !

Does France have a free education ?

Just like in the United States, France has public schooling which is free and subsidized by the French government. Education is obligatory from the ages of 3 to 16 years old. The notion that education is a right, that it is free and non-religious are integral to the values of French « République ».

Do private schools exist ?

Private schools also exist, but most of them are under contract with the French government. Therefore, teachers and personnel are paid for by the state, and the private schools have to follow the same curriculum.

What is a Collège and a Lycée ?

The modern French educational system is divided into 4 sections:

Pre-school is known as Ecole Maternelle (children vary from 3 to 5 years old).

Elementary school is called Ecole Primaire (which lasts 5 years) : from CP to CM2.

Secondary School which similarly to the U.S is sub-divided in 2 parts. Middle School is known as Collège (pronounced c-aw-l-ay-j, not to confuse with the American term College), which lasts four years : 6ème, 5ème, 4ème, 3ème. High school is known as Lycée (pronounced l-ee-c-ay), it lasts three years (Seconde, Première, Terminale). At the end of Lycée, French teenagers pass their Baccalauréat, the equivalent to the American SAT’s. It is graded out of 20. 

Higher Education (College):

In France, when we talk about College/University, we use the informal expression « la FAC » (with the French open A of course), which is short for the term faculté (faculty in English). Like the U.S, we have two forms of Higher Education: the « Licence » (equivalent to Bachelors degree or Undergraduate), which lasts 3 years instead of lasting 4 like in the U.S. However, France has an altogether quite different system, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior do not exist. Neither do we have a minor and a major. In France, students specialize from the 1st year. For example, an undergraduate course could be : Licence en Histoire, or Licence en Droit (undergraduate in Law). The « Master » (you’ve guessed right a Masters Degree), which can last 2 years, Master 1 and Master 2.

Is college in France free for international students ?

If you are looking to pay less for student fees and study overseas, then France is definitely a good choice. Under the French constitution, higher education is free for all. But there are administrative fees that apply. U.S citizens, considered to be international students would have to pay the following fees :

2 770€ (2870$) to study at undergraduate level (for every year of study)

3 770€ (3905$) to study at masters level

Studying in France is both a great way to practice your French and also benefit from the richness and diversity of culture France has to offer.

If you want to learn some other things about school in France, you can read our article about the “History of the University” in France.

If you want to know more about activities in Paris, don’t forget to drop us a line at !

Article written by Tobias.

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