Over 3,500 educational institutions can be found in France. Here is a hand-picked selection of 15 excellent French public universities to consider attending.
France, officially the Republic of France, is a country in western Europe. More than 67 million people call the French capital of Paris home.
The high literacy rate of 99.1 percent in France supports the country’s reputation as a leader in education. Twenty-one percent of the country’s annual budget goes toward educating its citizens.
According to recent data, France’s educational system ranks seventh in the world. France is known for its progressive educational policies, and the country also has a large number of public schools at its disposal.
France is home to more than 84 universities, all of which offer free tuition despite their high quality of education. You’ll find everything you need to know about the 15 best public universities in France right here.
You’d also learn if each of these institutions is eligible to accept international students as part of France’s public university system.
Best public universities in france
Paris Cité University
When it comes to French public universities, we have Paris Cité University at the top of our list. They work together with the universities in London and Berlin through the European organization Circle U. Its function is strictly governed by the educational code.
There are over 52,000 students enrolled there, and over 16% are not native English speakers.
They are an institution that can cater to the hopes and dreams of its students anywhere in the world. They have a strong ambition for success, and it shows in the thoroughness of their courses.
Their graduate-level research is of the highest quality. They have 119 labs and 21 libraries for easy studying.
University of Bordeaux
The University of Bordeaux sits at number three on the list of France’s top public universities. There are over 55,000 students there, with over 13% coming from other countries. Expert career guidance is provided to students right on campus.
More than 7,000 international students enroll there each year, according to a recent estimate. There are eleven different research divisions working together toward a common goal.
It is feasible to complete a mobility experience while enrolled in the degree program of your choice.
Université de Strasbourg
We rank the Université de Strasbourg as the fifth best public university in all of France. They have partnerships with over 750 educational institutions in 95 different countries. They work with over 175 organizations internationally, including 400 in Europe.
There are 72 research groups there, covering every academic field. There are over 52,000 students enrolled there with an international student population of 21 percent.
In order to provide their students with the best education possible, they make concerted efforts to incorporate the most recent scientific developments.
Because of their many agreements for cooperation, they make it possible to move freely between institutions in Europe and elsewhere.
Despite their expertise in fields such as medicine, biotechnology, and material physics, they are also very involved in the advancement of the social sciences and humanities.
University of Montpellier
When compared to other top French public universities, this one ranks #7. They have over 50,000 students, and over 15% are international students.
They are so accepting of international students that they have a label that says “welcome to France”
At their 17 locations, you can choose from 600 different classes. They are adaptable, based on evidence, and eager to make a difference.
Opportunities for training in many fields are made available by them. including a wide range of fields, from engineering and biology to chemistry and politics.
There are a total of 14 libraries and affiliated libraries available to students, covering a wide range of subject areas. 94% of them have successfully integrated into the workforce.
Paris Sciences et Lettres Université
On our twelfth and final list of the best public universities in France, the Paris Sciences et Lettres Université comes out on top. There are over 17,000 students there, and about 20% are not native English speakers.
According to their 2023-2024 course catalog, they provide 62 different levels of education, from the undergraduate to the doctoral levels.
They provide numerous opportunities for lifelong, world-class education in a variety of fields and settings.
Three thousand companies collaborate with this school. New academics are always welcomed each year.
To help them achieve their vision of becoming a world-renowned research university, they have established 181 separate research laboratories.
Université de Paris
Paris Diderot University, Paris Descartes University, and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris merged in 2019 to form a new institution that is quickly becoming a top pick among students from all over the world. Every year, more than 60,000 students flock to the university to take advantage of its cutting-edge teaching methods and innovative course offerings. Programs in English or a combination of English and French are available, as are Joint Programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Humanities, languages, human, economic, and social sciences, science and technology, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and nursing are just some of the many fields represented at this university.
Sorbonne University is a public research institute and one of the most prestigious universities in Europe and Paris, offering a wide range of academic programs to students from all over the world. Science, Humanities, and Medicine are the three central divisions of the university. As the majority of their coursework is delivered in French, students are obligated to hone their command of the language. The school provides undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in fields like the arts, languages, humanities, medicine, science, and technology.
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Another world-class French university where you can do research is Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. It is a major research institution in the fields of archaeology, law, economics, and history, and it can be found in the heart of the bustling city of Paris. The university is divided into three main schools: Human Sciences, Legal and Political Science, and Economic and Management Sciences. More than 33,000 students enroll in various programs each year, making it one of the most popular universities in Paris.
University of Montpellier
More than fifteen percent of their student body is comprised of international students.
The label reads “welcome to France,” signaling the country’s eagerness to embrace international students.
They provide over 600 different training programs across 17 locations. They are adaptable, flexible, and based on solid evidence.
They provide courses in a wide variety of fields. From the hard sciences of engineering and biology to the more subjective fields of chemistry and politics.
They offer a wide range of resources across disciplines in their 14 libraries and associated libraries. They are 94% integrated into the workforce.
The French Ministry of Higher Education and Research has recognized the quality of the University of Montpellier.
They work with over 400 universities all over the world and have over 47,000 students.
This institution has earned a stellar reputation and is known throughout the world for its high-quality Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral programs.
They offer a curriculum based on extensive research and have access to 275 laboratories to facilitate this.
This university consistently ranks among the top ten in terms of annual research output. In the context of their education, they offer practical experience with mobility.
The French Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation has recognized Université Paris-Saclay as a legitimate educational institution.
Université de Lille
They have over 67,000 students, with over 12% being international students from over 145 different countries.
Their studies range from the theoretical to the applied, the small-scale to the global.
They have access to domestic and international tools that will help them excel.
This institution allows students from other countries to participate in internship programs in their own countries.
The French Ministry of Education, Research, and Innovation has validated the quality of Université de Lille.
University of Burgundy
Over 7,000 of their total student body of over 34,000 are from outside the United States.
This institution’s Burgundian counterparts number five. Le Creusot, Nevers, Auxerre, Chalon-sur-Saone, and Mâcon are the locations of these educational institutions.
All of these departments work together to make this university a top research center in France.
While they do offer some courses in English, the majority of their courses are taught in French.
They offer high-caliber programs in teaching and research across the board in the scientific disciplines.
France’s Ministry of Higher Education and Research and Innovation has granted the University of Burgundy its accreditation.
Université Grenoble Alpes
They offer 75 distinct areas of study and 600 unique majors. This institution unites the full weight of the French state’s commitment to higher education in the cities of Grenoble and Valence.
There are three main parts to this university: the classroom buildings, the research facilities, and the administrative offices.
This institution has over 60,000 students, and 15% are international students. They are creative, practical, and focused on the field.
French authorities have recognized Université Grenoble Alpes as a legitimate institution of higher learning.
One of the most prestigious French universities, École Polytechnique was founded in 1794 as a military academy by Napoleon I. It was instrumental in propelling France forward during the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. It is now considered a grandes école, or one of the most prestigious universities in France. While its military significance has diminished over time, the illustrious university’s reputation for excellence in the fields of science, technology, and engineering has persisted.
École Polytechnique educates students in many fields of study. To encourage ethical growth in the STEM disciplines, it incorporates the humanities and social sciences. As a result of its innovative mindset and global perspective, it provides numerous opportunities to students from all over the world.
Télécom Paris (ENST / Télécom)
Télécom Paris is a public institution in France that focuses on engineering education and study. Télécom Paris, also known as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is a prestigious engineering school in France. Electronics and Communication, Signal and Image Processing, Computer Science and Networking, and Economics and the Social Sciences are the four pillars upon which the curriculum at this prestigious French institution rests. Studies in ENST focus on enhancing data processing, artificial intelligence, and the user experience.
Télécom is a highly competitive institution in France, with over a third of its students coming from outside of France. Télécom has changed its name several times over the years, but its commitment to efficient networking and technology has remained constant.
École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ENS de Lyon / ENSL)
The École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is a public institution in Lyon, France, that focuses on training educators. Training educators, researchers, and public servants is another major thrust. The university has two campuses, one for the arts and one for the sciences. Eleven total divisions can be found between the two zones. The school’s natural and experimental science programs can be found at the Monod Campus. The Descartes Campus is home to the University of Geneva’s Arts, Humanities, and Social Science departments.
In exchange for financial aid, many ENS de Lyon students work in public service after they graduate. In addition to its civic duties, the university serves as a incubator for new business ideas, particularly in the fields of computer science and biotechnology.
Aix-Marseille University (AMU)
The Aix-Marseille University in Provence, Southern France, was established in 2012 as a result of the merger of three universities. Since then, it has accumulated 80,000 students, making it the most populous French-language university in the world. There are over 10,000 foreign students enrolled. Health, Economics & Management, Law & Political Science, Arts & Humanities, Science & Technology, and more are all available to students at this university.
The University of Aix-Marseille has earned a stellar reputation on the global stage for its work in the fields of both the social and natural sciences. It’s not just good at the usual stuff; it stands out in fields like French linguistics and literature studies. Several Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, government officials, and ambassadors are alumni of AMU, attesting to the university’s tradition of academic excellence.
What is the difference between the public universities and the private universities curriculum in France?
The French Ministry of Education has approved the curricula of both public and private universities.
Are the universities in France good?
Yes! With a literacy rate of 99%, France ranks as the 7th best educational system in the world.
What is the cost to study at public universities in France?
The tuition at France’s public universities is surprisingly low. International students can expect to pay anywhere from €200 to €20,000 per year in tuition fees.
Is French necessary to study at public universities in France?
No, classes at French public universities are taught in both English and French.
The French Ministry of Education is responsible for shaping French education policy. The general public has an inaccurate impression that French public universities are subpar.
Public and private universities in France adhere to the same national curriculum established by the country’s Ministry of Education.
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