Programs in France


Science and Technology (S&T) Information

Publicly funded research in France falls under the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and is carried out by research bodies (a listing of which can be found here) and higher education institutions. Private sector research is backed by the Ministry of Industry and innovation is handled by both these ministries.

The French Agency for Innovation (OSEO-ANVAR) supports innovation and provides resources for small and medium sized businesses. The National Research Agency (ANR) provides project-based funding for research.

The Office of Science and Technology (OS&T) at the Embassy of France in the USA has links to several newsletters that give information on the latest S&T news and events. Another resource for finding information related to French S&T initiatives is the Research and Science section of the France-Diplomatie website.

Education System in France

In the French educational system school education is compulsory for children between the ages of 6-16 years. This covers elementary education and the first four years (collège) of secondary education.

Children are enrolled in kindergarten by their parents, whereas they are automatically enrolled in elementary school. Children go to kindergarten or nursery school from the age of three, or the age of two subject to availability of places. Elementary school is compulsory for all children who have reached the age of six. Generally, parents are expected to enroll their children in the school near their place of residence. Public education is free.

If a child has never been to school in France, enrolment in elementary school takes place at the school or at the town hall near the parents’ place of residence. In Paris, a child aged six and over who does not speak French is sent by the local town hall to a school where French-language courses for beginners are available. Children under six attend regular classes in school.

Secondary education for pupils aged 16 and over is dispensed in lycÉes d’enseignement gÉnÉral et technologique (secondary schools) and in lycÉes professionnels (secondary schools for vocational training). Pupils attend the former establishments for three years, from the classes de Seconde ("1st year of lycÉe education"), de Première (2nd year) and de Terminale (final year), to study for the BaccalaurÉat gÉnÉral and BaccalaurÉat technologique examinations. They attend the latter establishments for two years to study for the Certificat d’aptitude professionnelle - CAP (vocational training certificate); two more years are required to prepare for the BaccalaurÉat professionnel examination.

To begin higher studies in France, foreign students must have a French baccalaureate or foreign equivalent and be able to prove that their command of French is good enough for them to take the course of their choice.

Higher education is divided into three cycles or stages:

  • the Premier cycle, two-year course up to DEUG (DiplÔme universitaire d’enseignement gÉnÉral) level;
  • the Deuxième cycle, third year up to the licence followed by the one-year maîtrise; and
  • the Troisième cycle or higher postgraduate study beginning with the DiplÔme d’Études approfondies (DEA) or with the DiplÔme d’Études supÉrieures spÉcialisÉes - DESS (diploma in an applied subject).

The Grandes Écoles of engineering and business administration are competitive-entrance higher education institutions offering either four or five-year courses directly after the BaccalaurÉat or three-year courses after two years of classe prÉparatoire (preparatory class) during which students prepare for the entrance examinations to the Grandes Écoles.

Vocational training lasts two to three years after the BaccalaurÉat. Courses may be taken in the Sections de techniciens supÉrieurs - STS (Advanced technicians sections) where students prepare for the Brevet de technicien supÉrieur - BTS (vocational training certificate for advanced technicians) and are also taught by the Instituts universitaires de technologie - IUT (polytechnics).

Visa Information

The type of visa applied for depends on the length of the stay and reasons for the stay. The visas can be broadly divided into two main types depending on the duration of stay:

  • Short stay visas: for stays equal to or shorter than 90 days. Is also called the Schengen visa. Mainly issued for tourism, business travel or family visits; also issued for a short training course, internship, conference, business meeting or be employed for less than 3 months. This type of visa is also required for simply transiting through France.

  • Long stay visas: for stays longer than 90 days. The long-stay visa is not a Schengen visa though it entitles free movement or throughout the Schengen Area for its entire period of validity. The main reasons for issuing this type of visa are study, work and family reunion. This type of visa requires the visa holder to register with the Office Franåais d’Immigration et d’IntÉgration (OFII) or, in some cases, apply to the relevant prefecture for a residence permit. For foreign nationals to obtain a work visa, the future employer must have the contract approved in advance by the DIRECCTE (Regional directorate for enterprises, competition, consumption, work and employment) before submission of the visa application.

Featured Affiliate

The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research) is a public organization under the responsibility of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.


Join us for "Doing Research with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)", Sept 26, 2013; 2:00p EDT. The ACS International Center webinar series will feature speakers from the CNRS in a session about the benefits of collaborating with international institutions, and specific opportunities for research collaboration and funding.