• published on 1/12/2022
  • 5min

Applying to study in France: what you need to know

In 2021-2022, there were 302,900 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 enrolment processes in your home country and formalities upon arrival, as well as visa application procedures. Get ready to study in France!

Applying to study in France: what you need to know

Various application procedures

The procedures for enrolling in a French higher education institution vary according to your nationality, your country of residence, the nature of your intended studies, and your secondary school leaving certificate.

The “Études en France” (Study in France) procedure, compulsory in 33 countries

In 67 countries, applicants for higher education in France (first year of study or further study other than a doctorate) are required to go through the "Études en France" online application. Creating your online student file will enable you to benefit from support and advice, send pre-enrolment requests to higher education institutions in France, and provide further information if needed.

Countries which fall under this scheme are the following: Azerbaijan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United States, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.

For students who wish to apply for a doctorate in France, the "Études en France" procedure does not apply. You need to contact the institution that interests you directly. You can find the schools that correspond to your field of research on the Campus France website.

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

Do you have a high school diploma and wish to enrol 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 (DAP) is compulsory (if you live in a country falling under the “Études en France” scheme, this application is done via their website and must be done at the same time as the visa application).

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 enrolment.

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

Europeans, French Baccalaureate holders, and candidates for selective courses: the Parcoursup procedure

To study in France, you must apply through the Parcoursup website if:

  • you are a citizen of a European Economic Area member country and wish to enrol in a first year of Licence or in another study program (BTS or DUT programs, specialised schools…),

  • you are a national of a third country and have a French or European baccalaureate and wish to enrol in the first year of higher education,

  • you are a national of a third country subject to the “Études en France” procedure and wish to enrol in a selective non-university course (BTS, CPGE, schools, etc.),

  • you are a national of a third country not subject to the “Études en France” procedure and wish to enrol in a selective university or non-university course (IUT, DEUST, etc.).

What are the steps to follow?

  1. Enrolment procedures follow a strict schedule: make sure you know the different deadlines!

  2. Create your online student file and apply

  3. Formulate your 'wishes'* and explain your reasons for each of them 

  4. Confirm your wishes

  5. Reply online to the admission offers made to you

  6. Once you have definitively accepted an offer, you must then proceed to the administrative registration with the institution

*A "wish" is the choice of a course in an institution that the student would like to follow. Each student can make up to 10 wishes.

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

If you are applying through the “Études en France” procedure, your visa application will be automatically transmitted to the consular authorities. 

In other cases: 

- You can apply for a long-stay visa for studies directly online on the France-Visas website. 

- If the online visa application is not available in your country, you will have to contact the French consulate in your place of residence.

Also remember to select an insurance solution for international students.

Upon arrival in France

You have finally reached your destination! All you have to do is get your VLS-TS validated. This is done entirely online.

You will be asked to pay a tourist tax of € 50.

If you are unable to pay online, you can buy an electronic tax stamp at a tobacconist's.

Please note that this procedure is compulsory and must be completed within 3 months of your arrival in France.

To find out more about applying to study in France

Learn about the steps to follow, depending on your situation, on Campus France and Parcoursup.