Top 5 Universities in France for International Students in 2024: Rankings & Cost

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Did you know? France is home to around 10,000 Indian students out of 250,000 international students. And guess what? That number is expected to soar to 25,000 by 2025! 

There’s a good reason for this uptick. During a visit to India, French President Emmanuel Macron introduced a promising initiative to open the “French doors” for Indian students. Since France revealed its plan to welcome 30,000 students from India, there has been a significant surge in interest among international students in enrolling in one of the top universities in France.

Plus, it goes without saying that France is globally celebrated as a hub of arts, philosophy, and culture, making its universities incredibly appealing to students from around the world. 

Also, France is the 8th top study destination worldwide and ranks 5th in Europe. If you’re considering studying abroad, the best universities in France might be the perfect place for you!

Ready to take the leap and study at one of the top universities in France? You’re in the right place! This guide is tailor-made for all you eager learners who want to discover the top universities in France for international students. 

Click here to know in detail about applying for a French student visa!

Key Highlights

Here’s a snapshot of everything you will find in this blog post – best universities in France, student scholarships, visa details, 2024 intake dates at top universities in France, and more. So, let’s get you started on this exciting journey!

HighlightDetails
Total Universities in France72
Top Universities in France Institut Polytechnique de ParisSorbonne UniversitySciences Po
Average Yearly Tuition Fees at Top Universities in FrancePublic universities: 
Bachelor’s & Master’s: INR 15,000 to INR 35,000 
PhD: INR 30,000 to INR 40,000
Private institutions:
Bachelor’s: INR 2.5L to INR 8.5L
Master’s Degree: INR 9L to INR 15L
Average Living Expenses in France for StudentsINR 70,000 to INR 90,000 per month
Student Visa Application Cost INR 9,000 approximately
Intakes in France 2024January and September
Popular Bachelors Courses in FranceBusiness Administration – INR 80,000/year
Engineering – INR 55,000/year
Fashion Designing – INR 9L/year 

Popular Masters Courses in France
Management & MBA – INR 9L/year
Film Studies – INR 15L/year
Medicine – INR 40,000/year
Renowned Scholarship Programs for Indian Students
INSEAD Scholarships for Indian Students
The Charpak Scholarship Program
Eiffel Scholarship Program of Excellence

Please note: The annual tuition fee can vary significantly based on your college and course. These numbers are only indicative.  

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France University Ranking at a Glance

France boasts 35 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2024, with four entrants ranked within the global top 100. 

Are you curious about how the best universities in France rank on the global stage according to QS and Times Higher Education (THE)? These rankings are fantastic resources for students and scholars to identify which institutions shine in academic prestige and offer exciting opportunities.

Let’s walk you through the list of 10 top universities in France recognised for their teaching quality and research excellence as seen through citations. 

10 Top Universities in France QS World France University Ranking (2024)THE World France University Ranking (2024)
Université PSL#24#40
Institut Polytechnique de Paris#38#71
Sorbonne University#59#45
Université Paris-Saclay#71#58
Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon #184#251-300
Ecole des Ponts ParisTech 192#401–500
Université Paris Cité #236 #152
Université Grenoble Alpes #294 #301–350
Sciences Po#319#501–600
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne #328  #801–1000

5 Top Universities in France for International Students

French higher education involves 2.5 million students. 12% of them are from abroad. There are more than 3,500 public and private institutes of higher education in France. All international students benefit from their highly diversified training in every field at every level.

Know this too — A recent study by INSEE reveals that 26% of students in France work during their studies. Notably, 57% of these jobs are related to their study plan and 5.3% hold part-time “student jobs” unrelated to their studies.

This highlights that while many students find work relevant to their fields, a significant portion still takes on jobs outside their academic focus to support themselves financially.

Now, let’s dig deep into these five top universities in France and their detailed information about the course offerings, student life, and much more.

top universities in france

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Top 5 Universities in France for International Students in 2024: Rankings & Cost

PSL University (Paris Sciences et Lettres)

Located in the vibrant heart of Paris, PSL University (Paris Sciences et Lettres) offers courses across various fields of knowledge, innovation, and creativity. Some of the top courses offered are: 

  • Actor Training Program
  • Organisational Computer Sciences
  • PSL Doctorate
  • BioMedical Engineering

The university is renowned for its educational and research excellence. Throughout its history, PSL’s schools and institutions have nurtured leading scientists across various fields, including 28 Nobel Prize winners. It includes:

  • Pierre Curie and Marie Curie, Radiologists
  • Charles Nicolle, a French bacteriologist

Here are some key points about the university:

Founded in: 2010

Student population: 17,000 

Number of researchers: 2,900

Component Schools: 9

Key research entities: 3

Notable Alumni:

  • Eugène Schueller, Founder of L’Oréal
  • Florent Menegaux, Chairman & CEO of Michelin Group

Scholarships:

  • Université PSL’s member schools
  • Government scholarships by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Also, look at the table below, which discusses the courses offered by PSL University. 

Degree LevelPrograms OfferedAnnual Tuition Fees
Bachelor’s (Generalist degrees)ManagementApplied EconomicsSocial ScienceLawINR 15,000
Other Bachelor’s ProgramsCPES multidisciplinary program
Sustainability Sciences
Actor training program
Master’s48 INR  25,000
Graduate Programs18INR 35,000

Institut Polytechnique de Paris

Institut Polytechnique de Paris (IP Paris) is a prestigious public institution that offers a variety of sports and cultural activities, exhibitions, and ceremonies to ensure a well-rounded experience for international students. 

The university brings together five top French schools in science and engineering, with annual tuition fees as follows:

  • École Polytechnique – INR 11L
  • ENSAE Paris – INR 1.7L
  • ENSTA Paris – INR 4.2L
  • Telecom Paris – INR 3.8L
  • Telecom SudParis – INR 2.4

With a selective admissions process and high-quality education, IP Paris ranks 38th in the QS World University Rankings 2024 and 12th in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022.

Plus, with 12 research focus areas and 32 research laboratories, the university provides opportunities for cutting-edge research in various fields. Read on to learn more about the university. 

Number of students: 8,400

Number of Master’s students: 1,650 

International student body: 41% 

Language Taught: Entirely in English

Intake: September

Entry requirements: 

  • Bachelor’s – 180 ECTS
  • Master’s  – 140 ECTS

Please note: ECTS credits represent the workload of a student in terms of time spent in classes, self-study, assignments, and examinations required to complete a particular course or program. It is needed for admission to each level of study.

Academic Programs:

  •  Bachelor’s 
  •  Master’s 
  •  Master of Science in Engineering
  •  PhD Tracks (combining Master’s and PhD programs)
  •  PhD programs 

Here’s a detailed list of courses, programs, and their average cost of studying at IP Paris:

CoursesVarious Programs OfferedAverage Tuition Fees (per year)
Bachelor’s Bachelor of ScienceINR 17L 
Master of Science and TechnologyArtificial Intelligence & Advanced Visual ComputingINR 16L
CybersecurityINR 13L
Internet of Things: Innovation and Management ProgramINR 13L
Data Science For BusinessINR 22L
Master Double Degree Data & FinanceYear 1: INR 20LYear 2: INR 35L
Data and Economics for Public PolicyINR 13L
Economics, Data Analytics and Corporate FinanceINR 13L
Economics for Smart Cities and Climate PolicyINR 13L
Environmental Engineering and Sustainability ManagementINR 13L
Energy Environment: Science Technology and ManagementINR 13L
Doctoral/PhD TracksEngineering and TechnologyLife Sciences and MedicineNatural SciencesSocial Sciences and Management INR 22,000 (Master’s)INR 35,000 (PhD)

Please note: The fees in France’s highly selective private grandes écoles are overall higher, as they levy administration charges. 

Scholarships Offered:

  • The Ecole Polytechnique Foundation may award the top applicants an annual scholarship of at least INR 7L. 
  • Zimmerman & Frachtman Scholarship
  • International Fellowships

Student life:

“Getting into and graduating from Ecole Polytechnique are never easy tasks. With Ecole Polytechnique on our CV, we have more chances to get an internship and get a job after graduation in France,” — Zhiyuan Yao, Student in the Internet of Things: Innovation and Management Master’s at École Polytechnique.

Sorbonne University

Sorbonne University in Paris, established in 2018 from the merger of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University, has roots dating back to the 13th century

The university is particularly noted for its multidisciplinary courses, including bi-disciplinary or double bachelor’s degree programs. It also strongly emphasises research, with 4,400 doctoral students.

Here are the notable details about Sorbonne University: 

Student Population: 55,000 

International Students: 10,200

Faculties: 

  • Arts and humanities
  • Science and Engineering
  • Medicine

Reason for Popularity: A significant portion of the student body is international, reflecting the university’s global appeal

Language Required: French

Scholarships Available: Solidarity and Development Fund for Student Initiatives (FSDIE)

Academic Programs: Provides unique multidisciplinary and dual-degree programs to foster a broader educational experience. Find the details below in the table:

ProgramAnnual Tuition Fees
Bachelor’sINR 15,000
Master’sINR 25,000
EngineeringINR 55,000
PhDINR 35,000

Also Read: 10 Top Universities in France to Study for Indian Students

Student Testimonial:

“I am in the second year of a computer science degree. I chose this course as it captured my interest the most. I particularly like doing coding and programming. This fits well with my rational and logical personality.” – Camille Lutz

Université Paris-Saclay

Université Paris-Saclay, located just south of Paris, France, strongly emphasises research and innovation, making it a top choice for students studying in France. With over 48,000 students, 8,100 academic-research staff, and 8,500 technical and administrative staff, it is known for the quality of its education, providing comprehensive training with its dedicated teaching staff.

Université Paris-Saclay is a dynamic institution that brings together ten faculties and institutes such as:

  • 5 Faculties
  • 3 University Institutes of Technology
  • University Engineering School
  • Observatory of the Sciences of the Universe

Research is a crucial focus of activity, conducted in 275 laboratories in partnership with institutes and companies, including:

  • French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission
  • French National Centre for Scientific Research

Here are some key details about the university’s course offerings:

No. of students per staff: 15

Percentage of International Students: 24%

Undergraduate programs: 67

Postgraduate programs: 165

Field of Study Average Annual Tuition Fees
Bachelor’sINR 15,000 
Master’sINR 22,000 
DoctoralINR 34,000 

Entry Requirements for Bachelor’s & Master’s:

Scholarships:

  • International Master’s Scholarships
  • Eiffel Excellence Scholarship

Notable Alumni:

  • Alain Aspect, French physicist 
  • Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is a top public school known for training professors, senior government officials, researchers, and leaders in business and politics. The campus welcomes students and researchers from 78 different nationalities.

It is an ideal place for students looking for high academic and research support in a multicultural environment.

And the best part? Students here can create personalised study programs and sign a study contract. They divide their time between training and research in sciences and humanities, from Bachelor’s to PhD levels.

The list below mentions the specific details of École normale supérieure de Lyon.

Founded in: 1794

Number of teacher-researchers: 500 

Academic units: Arts and Sciences

Number of introductory research laboratories: 30

Fields of research excellence: 

  • Sciences
  • Social sciences 
  • Humanities

Nobel Laureates:

  • Louis Pasteur, Chemist and Microbiologist
  • Jean-Baptiste Perrin, Physicist

Scholarships

  • Ampère Scholarships of Excellence
  • GRADUATE + Scholarship

Here are the course fee details to study in École Normale Supérieure de Lyon: 

Degree LevelTuition Fees (per year)
MasterINR 25,000
DoctoralINR 40,000

Cost of Studying Across Top Universities in France

As you have seen the France university ranking for each institution, you have a clear overview of the annual fees for different levels of study at public universities and engineering schools in France, along with the approximate fees. 

Curious about the cost of studying in France? 

Know this too: In France, international students can work up to 964 hours per year, about 60% of a whole working week. The minimum wage is INR 1,000 per hour, ensuring all employees receive fair compensation. With the opportunity to work part-time, you can also offset some of these costs, making your study abroad journey more affordable.

Here’s a glimpse into the tuition fees at some of the top universities in France, to help you plan your budget effectively:

Top Universities in FranceAverage Annual Tuition Fees 
PSL University (Paris Sciences et Lettres)INR 15,000 to INR 35,000 
Institut Polytechnique de Paris INR 1.7L to INR 11L
Sorbonne UniversityINR 15,000 to INR 55,000
Université Paris-SaclayINR 15,000 to INR 35,000
École Normale Supérieure de LyonINR 15,000 to INR 34,000

Note: The tuition fees above are rough estimates and may differ depending on the program and faculty. 

Scholarship Opportunities Across Top Universities in France

Each year, over 500 outstanding young Indian students receive scholarships from the French Embassy in India and French companies and institutions to pursue higher education in France at public or private institutions.

One important factor when considering a master’s degree is the cost of study. Luckily, there are many options available to help students fund their programs.

The following table provides a concise overview of various scholarship programs, their providers, and the financial benefits they offer.

ScholarshipsOffered ByBenefits
Eiffel Excellence ScholarshipsFrench Ministry for Europe and Foreign AffairsMonthly allowance at Master’s level – INR 1.1L
Monthly allowance at Doctorate or PhD level – INR 1.5L
INSEAD Scholarships for Indian StudentsINSEAD Business SchoolUp to INR 22L
Charpak Scholarship ProgramEmbassy of France in IndiaMonthly allowance of INR 78,000
Student visa fee waiver
Tuition fee waiver or reimbursement
Erasmus Mundus ScholarshipsEuropean CommissionMonthly allowance of INR 90,000
Travel allowance of INR 2.7L per year 
Fulbright-Nehru Master’s ScholarshipBinational Fulbright Commissions/Foundations or U.S. EmbassiesJ-1 visa support
Tuition fee waiver 
Healthcare and living costs coverage

Common Eligibility Criteria for French Scholarships

To pursue higher studies at one of the top universities in France, the criteria for securing scholarships vary, but several key requirements are consistently meaningful. These include:

  • Academic transcripts, financial statements, and a statement of purpose ready when applying
  • Academic grades above 70% and a minimum band score of 6.5 on the IELTS English speaking test
  • Exams like GRE and GMAT for courses in management, science, IT, and engineering
  • Two to three Letters of Recommendation

You will likely receive scholarship benefits if you choose fields highly regarded in France, such as wine manufacturing, luxury brand management, fashion, arts, or aviation.

Intakes at Top Universities in France at 2024

Curious about the intakes in France? Here’s a simple guide to help you understand the intake periods at top universities in France for international students.

Top 5 Universities in France for International Students in 2024: Rankings & Cost

What are Intakes?

A college or university intake season is when universities start their semesters with classes. France has two main intakes: January (Spring intake) and September (Fall intake)

Let’s break them down:

January Intake

Start Time: Begins at the start of the year.

Preparation: Shortlist universities between January and July of the previous year.

Exams: Prepare for English proficiency tests or exams like the SAT or GRE.

Application Period: Submit applications between August and September.

Response Time: Respond to acceptance letters or interview calls by October.

Deadline: Mid-November.

September Intake

Primary Intake: Most universities offer a wide range of courses.

Preparation: Start shortlisting universities before March.

Exams: Take necessary exams (IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, SAT) by April.

Application Period: Submit applications between May and June.

Response Time: Respond to acceptance letters or interview calls by August.

Deadline: July-August.

The table below should make it easier to plan your application process and ensure you meet all deadlines.

StageJanuary IntakeSeptember Intake
Preparation PeriodJan – July (previous year)Before March
Application PeriodAugust – SeptemberMay – June
Response TimeBy OctoberBy August
DeadlineMid-NovemberJuly-August

Below is a list of the top universities in France offering September and January Intake. These universities are renowned for their diverse programs and vibrant campus life.

January IntakeSeptember Intake
Sorbonne University
CentraleSupelec University
Ecole Polytechnique
PSL Research University
Sorbonne University
Centrale Supelec University
INSEAD Business School
Grenoble Graduate School of Business

How to Apply for a French Study Visa?

France attracts numerous international students each year. Did you know the success rate for French student visas is generally more than 80%?

A study visa, also known as a long-stay student visa (VLS-TS), is paramount for international students planning to study at top universities in France. This visa permits students to live in the country legally throughout their educational program. 

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a study visa in France, you must:

  • Be enrolled in a higher education institution in France
  • Have sufficient financial resources to support yourself during your stay
  • Possess health insurance coverage
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the language of instruction (French or English) if required by the institution
  • Have a clean criminal record

Required Documents

When applying for a study visa, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Visa application form
  • Valid passport with at least two blank pages and valid for at least three months beyond your planned stay
  • 2 Passport-size photographs
  • Proof of enrollment or admission letter from a French educational institution
  • Proof of financial resources – INR 6.5L per month for a full year
  • Proof of health insurance – INR 33L for Schengen visas
  • Language proficiency certificate (if applicable)
  • Proof of accommodation in France
  • Flight reservation details
  • Visa application fee receipt

Application Fee

The long-stay student visa (VLS-TS) application fee is approximately INR 9,000. This fee is non-refundable, even if your visa application is denied. The processing time for a French student visa usually takes 2 to 3 weeks.

Steps to Apply

To apply for a study visa in France, following these steps will help ensure a smooth application process for your study visa in France:

  • Ensure you have an official acceptance letter from a recognized French institution.
  • Gather all the required documents as listed above.
  • Complete the visa application form online through the official France visa website.
  • Schedule an appointment at the nearest French consulate or visa application centre.
  • Attend the appointment and submit your application along with the required documents.
  • Pay the visa application fee.
  • Provide your biometric data at the application centre.
  • Use the tracking system provided by the visa application centre to monitor the status of your application.
  • Once approved, collect your visa from the consulate or mail it if applicable.

Also Read: Study Visa in France

Wrapping Up

Did you know that last year, around 1.3 million Indian students were pursuing their studies abroad in 75+ countries? This enormous number indicates limitless opportunities, high standards of living, and better career prospects for them. 

With many top universities in France to enrol in, international students can consider France an affordable education option. You can earn a lump sum by securing a high-paying job. In fact, the tuition fees you invest will likely be recouped within the first year of employment after completing your course.

Also, have a look at the highest-paying job roles along with the average annual salary:

  • Surgeon – INR 140L 
  • IT director – INR 79L
  • Lawyer – INR 80L
  • Dentist – INR 102L

So, studying at top universities in France is worthy of its educational excellence and significant contributions to global academia. Make the smart choice and join the ranks of students experiencing the best of French higher education!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What are some of the top universities in France for international students?

    A: Top universities in France for international students are renowned for their academic excellence and diverse programs. Here are some of them, along with the QS World University ranking in 2024:

    -Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres) – #24
    -Institut Polytechnique de Paris – #38
    -Sorbonne University – #59

  • Q: What makes French universities attractive to international students?

    A: Top universities in France are known for their high academic standards, diverse programs, affordable tuition fees, and vibrant campus life. The opportunity to learn or improve French language skills is another significant draw. 

    Also, many French universities offer programs in English, making them accessible to non-French speakers.

  • Q: How do French universities rank globally?

    A: As of 2024, 4 French universities rank among the top 100 in global rankings like QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education. These rankings reflect their commitment to academic excellence and research innovation. Degrees from these universities are highly valued by employers worldwide.

  • Q: What is the primary language of instruction at top universities in France?

    A: While many programs are taught in French, an increasing number of master’s programs are offered in English to accommodate international students. This trend makes French universities accessible to those who may not be fluent in French. Many universities also offer French language courses to help students improve their proficiency.

  • Q: Are there scholarship opportunities for international students in France?

    A: Yes, numerous scholarships are available for international students, such as:
    The Eiffel Excellence Scholarship
    Charpak Scholarship
    Erasmus Mundus Scholarships

    These scholarships help cover tuition fees and living expenses. They are highly competitive and require strong academic records.

  • Q: What are the eligibility criteria for obtaining a scholarship in French universities?

    A: The criteria for securing scholarships vary, but several key requirements are consistently essential. These include your academic performance, IELTS scores, and the specific program you select. 

    To be eligible for these scholarships, you should have academic grades above 60% and a score of at least 6.5 on the IELTS English speaking test. 

  • Q: What are the typical tuition fees at top universities in France?

    A: Tuition fees at public universities range from approximately INR 15,000 to INR 35,000 per year for bachelor’s and master’s programs. 

    Specialised programs and private institutions may have higher fees. For example, international students enrolled in undergraduate programs typically pay around INR 2.5L to INR 8.5L per year. ​For postgraduate programs, the cost ranges from INR 9L to INR 15L.

  • Q: What are the living costs for international students in France?

    A: Living costs in France without rent are approximately INR 70,000 to INR 90,000 per month, 8.6% lower than in the United States. Major cities like Paris tend to be more expensive. 

    For your reference, many universities provide on-campus housing, which can be a cost-effective option. For instance, residences managed by France’s regional centres for students offer government-subsidised housing. So living in Paris costs approximately INR 47,000 per month, while elsewhere it’s around INR 31,000 per month.

  • Q: Does an IELTS score affect a student visa for France?

    A: No, an IELTS score is not required to obtain a student visa for France, particularly if the university you are applying to does not request it. A few institutions that accept students without IELTS scores are: 

    American Business School in Paris
    EBS Paris
    EPITA Graduate School of Computer Science

    Additionally, many universities offer their language assessments or accept other English proficiency tests, making it easier for students from non-English-speaking countries to apply.

  • Q: How do I apply to top universities in France?

    A: You can apply through Campus France or the university’s website. Check the specific admission requirements and deadlines for each program. Remember to submit the required documents, including academic transcripts, language proficiency certificates, and letters of recommendation, on or before the deadline.

  • Q: What support services are available for international students at French universities?

    A: French universities offer orientation programs, academic advising, language support, and cultural integration activities. International student offices assist with visa and immigration matters, as well as housing and health insurance. 

    As we all know, cultural activities help students build connections and immerse themselves in French culture.

  • Q: Can international students work while studying at top universities in France?

    A: Yes, international students can work up to 964 hours per year, about 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during holidays. This provides an opportunity to gain work experience and earn extra income. Many universities have career services that help students find part-time jobs and internships.

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Saket Kohli

An International Higher Ed professional with 7+ years of experience studying, working, and living across three geographies, currently on a mission to share his journey as an International Student.

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