French Eductational Framework

French Educational Framework:

The French educational framework can cause considerable confusion for forign students, who are considering study  in France because the framework differs so much from other european countries.

It is important for the prospective student to know in advance, the worth of the qualification they will recieve on completion of their chosen course.

Qrossroads is a valuable refernece point for understanding the differences between European frameworks which can be found at the Qrossroads website.


 Primary Education:

Écoles Maternelles (Nursery schools)

  • Petite Section:      2-3 Years
  • Moyenne Section: 3-5 Years
  • Grande Section:    5-6 Years


Écoles Élémentaires (Elementary Schools)

  • Cours préparatoire (CP) or 11ème                     6-7 years            Year 2 - 1st Grade
  • Cours élémentaire 1 (CE1) or 10ème                 7-8 years            Year 3 - 2nd Grade
  • Cours élémentaire 2 (CE2) or 9ème                   8-9 years            Year 4 - 3rd Grade
  • Cours moyen 1 (CM1) or 8ème                         9-10 years           Year 5 - 4th Grade
  • Cours moyen 2 (CM2) or 7ème                        10-11 years          Year 6 - 5th Grade


 Secondary Education:

 Collèges (College)

  • Sixième (6ème)                                               11-12 Years           Year 7 - 6th Grade
  • Cinqième (5ème)                                             12-13 Years           Year 8 - 7th Grade
  • Quatrième (4ème)                                            13-14 Years           Year 9 - 8th Grade
  • Troisième (3ème)                                             14-15 Years           Year 10 - 9th Grade


Lycées (High School)

  • Seconde (CAP, BEP)                                         15-16 years             10th Grade
  • Première (CAP, BEP)                                         16-17 years             11th Grade
  • Terminale (BAC)                                                 17-18 years             12th Grade



(the equivalent of the A-Levels in England or The Leaving Certificate in Ireland)

 At high school level, students can choose either:

  • The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
  • The French Baccalauréat International Option (BOI) also known as the Option Internationale du Baccalauréat (OIB).

The IB Diploma follows the syllabus of the home country. Many, but not all, of French bilingual schools make this option available.

The BOI is a baccalaureate qualification which forms an optional part of the French baccalaureate examination and as such allows the student to enter higher education in France.

From this point students can progress to chosen courses in University.



The LMD reform is a set of measures to change the French Higher Educational Framework to adapt to European standards.

  • Licence (Bachelor's Degree)
  • Masters
  • Doctorate

The LMD implements an architecture based primarily on three levels: Bachelor (Licence), Master and Doctorate; which is an organization of teaching in semesters and course units.

Baccalaureate is an academic qualification which students take at the end of the secondary education, it is the equivalent of the A-Levels in England or The Leaving Certificate in Ireland.

Bachelor's Degree (Licence)
This is the first higher education Degree after the French baccalaureate  It has the equivalent level of the baccalaureate + 3 years of studies.

Master’s Degree (Master)
The Master’s completes the bachelor’s education. There is a research master’s for students interested more particularly in continuing towards a doctorate and a professional master’s which is more oriented towards active working life. The Master is a 2 year course and corresponds to a baccalaureate level + 5 years of studies. It is open to holders of a bachelor’s degree (licence).

After a research or professional master’s degree, the doctorate terminates the university curriculum. It is prepared in 3 years and corresponds to a baccalaureate level + 8 years of studies.


Duration in Higher

Education after the





European Equivalents

Year 2

Licence(Bachelor's Degree)


Year 3

Year 4


MASTER’S DEGREE (M.A.)5 years (Bachelor’s degree)

Year 5

Year 8