Applying to study in France: what you need to know

Studying in France

In 2013-2014, there were over 295,000 foreign students in France. Are you also dreaming of completing studies in a French higher education institution? Unless you are an EU national, procedures can be quite long and complicated. Currently, nearly half the foreign students are from Africa and almost a quarter come from the Middle-East, Asia or the Pacific. Learn about enrollment processes in your home country and formalities upon arrival, not forgetting visa application procedures. Get ready to study in France!

Various application procedures

To enroll in a higher education institution in France, procedures will vary depending on the country you live in and the type of study program you are aiming.

The CEF procedure, compulsory in 33 countries

In 33 countries, students wishing to study in France (first year of study or further studies) must complete the Campus France online application. This is the CEF (Centers for Studies in France) procedure, which aims to help applicants through administrative formalities until visa application. Creating your online student file will enable you to benefit from support and advice, send pre-enrollment requests to higher education institutions in France and provide further information if needed.

Countries which fall under this scheme are the following: Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chili, Columbia, Comoro Islands, Congo (Brazzaville), South Korea, Ivory Coast, United States, Gabon, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Russia, Syria, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey and Vietnam.

The Preliminary application for admission (TCF DAP) for other non-EU nationals

Do you have a high school diploma and wish to enroll in first or second year courses in a French university? If you aren’t a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) member-country, the preliminary application for admission is compulsory (if you live in a country falling under the CEF scheme, this application must be done through Campus France).

What are the steps to follow?

  1. Complete the dossier blanc.
  2. Bring or send your application with all the requested supporting documents to the Cultural Services department of the French Embassy in your country.
  3. Take the French language proficiency test (TCF).
  4. If your application is accepted by one or several of the three universities you wish to study in, you must confirm your choice by mail in order to proceed with enrollment.

Have you already completed several years of higher education studies and wish to begin studying in France ? To enroll in a third year of Licence a Master’s or a PhD program, you need to directly get in touch with the university.

Enrollment through Admissions Post Bac (APB): EU citizens or applicants to selective programs

To study in France, you must apply through the Admissions Post Bac website if:

  • you are a citizen of a European Economic Area member country and wish to enroll in a first year of Licence or in another study program (BTS or DUT programs, specialized schools…),
  • you are a citizen of a third country without a CEF scheme and wish to enroll in a university selective program (IUT, DEUST…) or in another type of selective program (BTS, CPGE, specialized schools…).

What are the steps to follow?
Enrollment procedures follow a strict schedule: make sure you know the different deadlines!

  1. Create your online student file and apply.
  2. Prepare and send your paper applications along with the supporting documents requested by the different higher education institutions.
  3. Online, respond to the enrollment offers you receive.
  4. Once you have definitively accepted an offer, you must get in touch with the institution for administrative enrollment.

Getting a student visa

Are you a citizen of a European Economic Area member country? Then you don’t need a visa to study in France. On the other hand, nationals of all other countries must apply for a visa. Most applicants request an extended-stay visa with residency permit or VLS-TS (there also are specific visas for short stays), which is valid for a year.

Before you leave

You can apply for a VLS-TS at the local French consulate in your country only if:

  • you received a pre-enrollment acceptance letter following the preliminary application for admission or Admission Post Bac procedures,
  • you finished the Campus France procedure and an appointment at the consulate has been scheduled.

You will need to bring a French Immigration OFFI form along with the visa application form and required documents. Also remember to select an insurance solution for international students.

Upon arrival in France

You have finally reached your destination! Your last task will be to validate your student visa at the local immigration office (OFFI).

What are the steps to follow?

  1. Upon arrival in France, send the OFFI form (by registered mail with confirmation of receipt) and a copy the pages of your passport which contain your identity information, the visa and the stamp proving your date of entry
  2. The OFFI will send you an appointment notification.
  3. Complete the OFFI registration formalities within three months of your arrival in France: medical visit or orientation session and payment of à €58 fee.
  4. The OFFI will validate your VLS-TS visa by placing a sticker on your passport.

To find out more about applying to study in France :

Learn about the steps to follow depending on your situation on Campus France and Admissions Post Bac.

Date of publication Sep 28 2015

Other articles on this subject

What are the most expensive study abroad destinations?
Studying abroad: world’s top universities
Study destinations: choose one of the most student-friendly cities!
A guide to applying to study in the UK
Getting a visa to study in the United States
Erasmus+, the new EU program
Where can you go on an exchange programme?
Studying in France: the MICEFA program
CREPUQ
Study Abroad
ALFA
International exchange programmes
European exchange programmes
The Erasmus Mundus Programme
Educational exchange programmes
The Erasmus Programme
The Comenius Programme
The Leonardo da Vinci Programme
ISEP