The French higher education system

Higher education in France is divided into two parts: universities, or “Université,” and Higher Schools, or “Grandes Ecoles,” which provide managerial and scientific curriculum. This system was left over from our nation’s political and economic past.

A specific preparation program

To be admitted to a university to enroll in a typical program, candidates must pass the “Baccalauréat” (the final exam at the conclusion of secondary education), which is administered to candidates who are around 18 years old (Bachelor-Master-Doctorate).

To be eligible to compete in a very competitive admissions process to the “Grandes Ecoles,” students who have completed the “Baccalauréat” and wish to enroll in “Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles (CPGE)” must complete a specific preparation program over the course of two years.

Only the top 20% of applicants are approved after a national process that organizes access to the CPGE classes. The students take intensive courses (with small classes and frequent assessments) mostly in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and the natural sciences (biology and geology) during the CPGE cycle, which validates 120 ECTS.

In order to be admitted to one of the “Grandes Ecoles,” students must retake an entrance exam after completing their CPGE coursework. Thus, those accepted into the ENSG can be regarded as being among the top 10% of prospective geoscience students in France.

Intensive courses

Following entry into the “Grandes Ecoles,” students complete a three-year curriculum that validates 180 additional ECTS (for a total of 300 ECTS) and leads to “Ingénieur” graduation, which awards the graduate the European Master’s Degree. The curriculum focuses on social, economic, and management skills in addition to scientific and technical disciplines. 

All of the students who graduate do so with the following accomplishments:

  •  English language proficiency at level B2 (according to the European Framework of Reference for Languages); 
  • A minimum of 28 weeks of industry or research center internship; 
  • A research training session.

Since 1934, the “Body des Titres d’Ingénieur (CTI),” a national ad hoc commission, has required the “Grandes Ecoles” to be accredited in order to graduate “Ingénieur” students.

The ENSG academic program is divided into semesters, each carrying 30 ECTS, for a total of 180 ECTS for the whole course. The diplôme d’Ingénieur ENSG therefore corresponds to 300 ECTS, or a Masters degree, when added to the 120 ECTS earned previous to entrance to ENSG.

A person who has earned the national diplôme d’Ingénieur, which is equivalent to five years of study at the higher education level, is consequently considered to be an Ingénieur of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie. They have finished their introduction to and through research. For this reason, all French “Ingénieurs” are now given the academic grade of “Master.” The degree certificate makes note of this distinction.

The BMD system stands for Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate.

The teaching at universities was reorganized in accordance with the “Bachelor – Master – Doctorate plan (BMD)” that is specified by the Bologna process as part of the creation of higher education in the European region (19th June 1999).

The BMD system offers equivalencies within the three tiers of the global education system:

  • bachelor’s degree 
  • master’s degree 
  • doctorate

The BMD system is based on the quantity of postsecondary semesters completed and their equivalent in ECTS-based European credits:

  • Bachelor = 6 semesters = 180 ECTS
  • Master = 10 semesters = 300 ECTS
  • Doctorate = 16 semesters

The European Credits Transfer System (ECTS) is a credit accumulation and transfer system based on the openness of learning processes and outcomes.

It attempts to make planning, delivering, evaluating, recognizing, and validating credentials and learning units as well as student mobility easier. The ECTS system is widely utilized in formal higher education and is adaptable to different forms of lifelong learning.