France's prestigious "Grandes Ecoles" bring together several hundred students and faculty in rigorous but convivial settings. Other specialized schools offer degrees in fields such as communications, tourism, and health, among others.

The "Grandes Ecoles"

This uniquely French term refers to institutions that may be either public or private. The two largest groups of grandes écoles are schools of engineering and schools of management, but there are also the écoles normales supérieures (ENS), the institutes of political studies (IEP), veterinary schools, and other schools in a variety of specialized areas.

The grandes écoles are very selective. All in all they enroll about 30,000 international students, who, upon graduation, enjoy excellent career prospects. 

Degree programs in the grandes écoles usually include international internships and study abroad.  

The basic degree offered in the grandes écoles is equivalent to a European Master. 

Interim or specialized degrees may also be offered:

  • Bachelor, after 3 or 4 years of study
  • Master of Science (MSc), after 4 or 5 years of study
  • MBA (Master of Business Administration)
  • Mastère Spécialisé (Ms), after 6 six years of study (1 year following the grande école degree)

Many grande école programs are now taught in English, especially in the areas in which the school specializes.

The environment of the "grandes écoles" is very special. Student life is very rich, with abundant cultural, athletic, and club activities, many of which are funded in part by corporate partners.

Students enjoy ample opportunities for interaction with faculty, in part because classes are small. Projects and case studies are the predominant educational models, and students have a wide choice of options. 

Other specialized schools

France is internationally recognized in the fields of gastronomy, hotel management, fashion, and film, among other areas. 

Numerous specialized schools offer programs in these and other fields, such as comic art (bande dessinée), animation, video games, photography, and the performing arts, as well as journalism, communication, paramedical specialties, social work, and more.  

Specialized schools may offer government-sanctioned diplomas or degrees that are specific to the granting institution. 

Most programs are 2 to 5 years in length. Admission decisions are typically based on examination results or on an evaluation of the student's application.