About PSL and studying in France

Are you considering studying at a university in France? Here are some quick facts about Université PSL as a collegiate university and a brief introduction to the higher education system in France. Prospective students can also find below key information about admissions. We hope this information will make easier your search for universities abroad and help you prepare for your arrival at PSL.

About PSL
PSL admissions
Study in France
What exactly is Université PSL?

Université PSL is a collegiate university made up of eleven higher education institutions renowned for academic excellence and located in central Paris. By bringing together cutting-edge research led by its member schools and offering high-quality multidisciplinary programs, PSL has been ranked among the world’s top universities for several years. PSL and its member schools are all committed to creating an inclusive environment, promoting research-based education, and solving critical challenges facing our world today.

What are the strong points of PSL multidisciplinary bachelor’s programs? 

PSL offers ten bachelor’s degree programs with a large choice of double majors/specializations. It allows students to personalize their studies across disciplinary boundaries. Furthermore, the bachelor’s programs under the College of Science, Humanities and Society of Université PSL are operated by PSL's member schools altogether. This means that the courses are given by professors coming from these prestigious institutions, all of them top researchers in their field of study, and classes occur on several campuses, all in central Paris.

What shapes the excellence of PSL master's programs? 

PSL’s graduate programs are built upon unprecedented cross-institutional collaborations. Each master's program is operated by a PSL member school and the curriculum is a joint contribution of several schools. The unique structure units excellent scientific resources and teaching staff on an exceptional scale. It allows our graduate students to develop expertise in multidisciplinary fields and tackle major societal, scientific and environmental issues using transdisciplinary methods. The classes occur at the host school and sometimes also at the contributor schools, all located in central Paris.

How does PSL engage in the global fight against climate change?

At Université PSL, climate change issues are incorporated into our research, teaching, and outreach activities. About 30% of research led by PSL is devoted to sustainable development. We equip students with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to combat climate change, regardless of their major. This is not all. Since 2020, PSL has highlighted each year a theme related to the Anthropocene through a series of conferences and public events. PSL is committed to using knowledge in the service of society and taking part in the global challenge to create a better world for future generations.

Why PSL?

Excellent teaching

World-class research

  • 28 PSL alumni have been awarded the Nobel Prize since 1903
  • +200 ERC grants awarded

Creation & Innovation

  • 50 Startups created every year
  • 70 Patents obtained every year

Strong values

Support & Involvement


Does PSL offer programs taught in English and what is the English level required to apply? 

PSL's bachelor’s program Sustainability Sciences is taught partially in English and requires a B2 level in English and B2/C1 in French to apply. As for our graduate studies, PSL offers more than twenty Master’s programs and tracks taught entirely in English and up to ten taught partially in English. Each program sets its language requirements. Generally, programs taught entirely in English require at least a B2/C1 level in English, and programs taught partially in English require at least a B2/C1 level of proficiency in French.

I would like to apply for PSL’s bachelor programs. When and where to apply?

The deadlines and application platforms vary depending on the programs and the candidate’s status (nationality, high school diploma type, etc.). To apply for the CPES program, ALL candidates must submit their application on the national platform Parcoursup. To apply for the Sustainability Sciences program and Dauphine-PSL Bachelor’s programs, applicants must go through the Parcoursup platform or EEF platform depending on their status. Perspective students can find detailed information on admissions procedures on each program’s webpage. 

I would like to apply for PSL’s master’s programs. When and where to apply?

The deadlines and application platform for PSL Master’s programs vary depending on several factors such as degree program type, host school’s admission procedure, applicant’s status (nationality, country of residence), etc. Please use our interactive online admission guide to figure out when and where to submit your application. You can also find here detailed information about the Master admissions procedure for 2024-25. International students are advised to read International Admissions Procedures at PSL before applying.

Why do I need to choose between M1 and M2 when applying? Does it mean that I need to apply again for the 2nd year of the Master’s even if I succeed in the 1st year?

If you succeed in the M1 you can start directly the M2. The application portal asks applicants to choose between M1 and M2 because some students have already obtained an equivalent level to M1 in another university/major and wish to start directly from the M2 at PSL. Please note that not all PSL's master's programs open applications for the M2 level and the application procedure for the M2 is different from M1.

Take a look at our FAQ Graduate Admissions for other questions related to the Master's admissions.

I understand that each master’s program is hosted by a member school of PSL. Is there going to be two applications, one for the host school and another for PSL University?

You will submit only one application. You can use our interactive online admission guide to figure out when to apply and which portal to use depending on your situation. Please note that non-EU students who are residents in one of the countries covered by the EEF (Etudes en France) procedure should also complete an EEF application via Campus France. If you have other questions about the Master's admissions procedures, take a look at PSL FAQ Graduate Admissions and International Admissions Procedures at PSL.

What is the EEF (Etudes en France) procedure and who is concerned?

The EEF (Etudes en France) procedure allows international students to manage all the administrative procedures for their studies in France. If you are a non-European national living in one of the countries affected by the EEF procedure, you must complete an EEF application for the proconsular procedure before applying for a student visa. In case of any questions, you can contact PSL Welcome Desk who will assist you in preparing for your departure.  

I am concerned by the EEF procedure. Do I still need to apply through PSL’s application portals?

Yes, both procedures are mandatory for non-European nationals living in a country affected by the EEF procedure. Depending on the degree program you apply for, you will need to submit an EEF application at the same time as submitting your application through PSL application portals, or you will be asked to complete an EEF application after receiving an admission notice from PSL. Please note that the EEF procedure (i.e., the application for degree programs on the EEF platform and interview with Campus France) does not have any effect on PSL’s selection process and admission offer. More information about International Admissions Procedures at PSL can be found on the dedicated page.

How much are the tuition fees at PSL?

Tuition fees in public educational institutions in France are very affordable. The fees applied to degrees known as national diplomas (‘diplômes nationaux’) are as follows: Bachelor €170 per year · Master €243 per year · Doctorate €380 per year. Since 2019, under a change in the law non-European students are due to pay higher fees. However, the majority of PSL's member schools managed to waive the increased fees for non-European students. Perspective students can find on each degree program’s web page bachelor|master more details about the tuition fees (see the “Admissions” tab).

What is CVEC? 

Besides the tuition fees, students enrolled in initial training or apprenticeship in a French higher education institution must pay the CVEC (Student and Campus Life Contribution) fees (100€ for academic year 2023/2024). Some students are to be exempted.

What foreign degrees are recognized by PSL? 

There are no officially recognized pre-established equivalences between French and foreign degrees. Each higher education establishment sets its admission criteria based on the requirements of its degree programs and the applicant’s background. Some institutions may require a certificate provided by the ENIC-NARIC center. 

Does PSL offer scholarships for international students?

PSL and its member schools as well as the French government provide several types of financial aid and scholarships (excellent grants, mobility grants, and social criteria grants) for both French and international students. Please have a look at our dedicated page 'Scholarships and grants for graduate students' for detailed information. 

The European 'LMD' system

Higher education in France is based on the LMD system which refers to Licence-Master-Doctorat (Bachelor’s-Master’s-Doctorate). The system is common to most European countries and recognized by many countries, facilitating students’ international mobility. Undergraduate studies (Licence) in France are typically three years. Each year is described as L1, L2, L3 which refer respectively to first year, second year and third year of bachelor’s studies. After the ‘Licence’ come the Master’s studies. A Master’s degree in France takes two years to complete. Each year is referred to as M1 and M2, literally meaning first year and second year of master’s studies.

Degrees and ECTS credits

In France, an academic year is divided into 2 semesters: 30 credits are required to validate a semester and 60 credits to validate an academic year. The credits can be transferred to other countries. Below are ECTS credits required to earn LMD degrees:

  • Licence (Bachelor’s) degree: 180 ECTS credits, equivalent to the validation of six semesters. 
  • Master’s degree: 300 ECTS credits, equivalent to the validation of an additional four semesters after having obtained a Bachelor’s degree. 
  • Doctorate degree: 480 ECTS credits. A doctorate is granted after completing at least 3 years of study.
Academic Calendar

In France, an academic year is divided into 2 semesters: the 1st semester begins in September/ October and ends in January. It includes two weeks of winter holidays in December. The 2nd semester starts in January/ February and ends in May/ June. 


In France, the university grading system follows generally a 0-20 scale and the passing grade is usually 10 points. A grade of 20 is hardly ever granted and scores of 19 and 18 are also rarely attributed.

Dual-university system

French higher education has a dual system: the Université (universities) and the Grandes écoles (literally ‘Great Schools’). The universities offer higher education covering all areas of learning and research while the Grandes écoles are specialized in fields such as engineering, management, political science etc.. The Grandes écoles are top-level educational institutions in France and known for prestigious degrees and academic excellence. PSL’s member schools such as ESPCI-PSL, ENS-PSL, and Mines de Paris-PSL are grandes écoles.

When researching undergraduate or graduate study options on our website or when speaking to PSL students, you might come across several unfamiliar terms that are particular to PSL and the higher education system in France. Listed below are some of the terms with a brief explanation.


PSL terminology
  • PSL Graduate programs: PSL Graduate programs offer Master’s and PhD students interdisciplinary, cross-institutional, and customizable courses. They will endow you with multidisciplinary approaches and skills, broaden your career opportunities, and increase your international competitiveness. Several Graduate programs also offer scholarships to master students.
  • PSL PhD tracks: PSL PhD tracks are 5-year fully funded programs (MSc 2yrs + PhD 3yrs), entirely taught in English. They are designed for high-potential students who aim to become top-level international researchers. 
  • PSL Week: PSL Week allows students to explore in depth a subject among a large variety of given themes, related to their major or not. Very much appreciated by our students, PSL Week offers an exciting opportunity for all undergraduates and graduates to meet and exchange.
French higher education terminology
  • Baccalauréat: typically referred to as the ‘bac’, baccalauréat is an academic qualification taken at the end of secondary education. It’s roughly equivalent to A levels in the UK or a high-school diploma in the US and other countries. 
  • Bac+3/ Bac+5/ Bac+8: LMD degrees are generally referred to as “Bac + years (required to complete the LMD degree)”: Bac+3 stands for Bachelor’s degree, Bac+5 for Master’s degree, and Bac+8 for PhD degree.
  • BU (Bibliothèque universitaire): University library
  • CPGE (Classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles): commonly called “classes prépas” or “prépas”, the CPGE are part of the French post-secondary education system. They consist of two years of studies (extensible to three years) and act as an intensive preparatory course with the main goal of training students for enrolment in one of the grandes écoles in France.
  • CM (cours magistraux): a CM is basically a lecture class, complete with 100-200 (sometimes even more!) students sitting in a huge classroom in auditorium style. 
  • CVEC (Contribution à la vie étudiante et de campus): CVEC stands for Student and Campus Life Contribution fees. Students enrolled in initial training or apprenticeship in a French higher education must pay the CVEC.
  • Cycle universitaire: in France and other states of the European Union, higher education programs are organized into three different levels called cycles. They are often referred to as the ‘premier cycle’ (first cycle): undergraduate level of studies; ‘deuxième cycle’ (the second cycle): master's level studies; ‘troisième cycle’ (the third cycle): PhD studies.
  • EC (Eléments constitutifs): an EC is a course and each EC is affected with a certain number of ECTS credits.
  • LMD: LMD stands for Licence-Master-Doctorat (Bachelor’s-Master’s-Doctorate) 
  • MCF (Maître de conferences): MCF is equivalent to “assistant professor” but in the French system the MCF is a tenured position.
  • Relevé de notes: it refers to the academic record called a "transcript" in the UK and the US, or something else such as “statement of marks”, “statement of results”, “record of learning”, or “record of achievement” in other countries.
  • TD (travaux dirigés): a TD is a supervised class and more like a “typical” class with a smaller number of students than a CM class (generally around 35-40). It is usually held in the form of small-group discussion sessions and aims to illustrate and deepen the theoretical questions seen in the CM class. 
  • TP (travaux pratiques): a TP class is very similar to a TD and the students will be led to carry out concrete experiments.
  • UE (Unité d’enseignement): a UE is a teaching unit that regroups several courses (EC) treating similar or complementary topics (a UE can also represent only one EC). The structure of the UE allows the pedagogical team to build a teaching plan by the expected learning outcomes.