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French diplomas from secondary to higher education

By Jean
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French diplomas

International students who aim to live and study in France, and immerse themselves in learning French, will find that French diplomas open numerous doors globally, thanks to their rigorous standards and international recognition.

This guide is designed to illuminate the path for international students as they navigate the various types of French diplomas and their global recognition.

Secondary Education French Diplomas


Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) and Brevet d’Études Professionnelles (BEP) are the most popular early vocational training focusing on specific professional areas. These diplomas are designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary for immediate entry into various professions. Tailored for individuals aiming for a direct path into the workforce, these qualifications are recognized for their practicality and specificity to job requirements. CAP and BEP can be completed in 2 years.


The Baccalauréat Général and the Baccalauréat Professionnel are milestones in the French education system, equivalent to high school diplomas. The Baccalauréat Général focuses on academic subjects, preparing students for higher education, while the Baccalauréat Professionnel gears students towards specific professional fields, blending academic coursework with hands-on training. The Baccalauréat requires 3 years of study after middle school.

Even though it is less strict nowadays, a Baccalauréat Général usually leads to French universities, while a Baccalauréat Professionnel usually leads to vocational schools, colleges, or IUTs (Instituts Universitaires de Technologie). Grandes Écoles are generally less accessible to those who have only completed a Baccalauréat, as these institutions are highly competitive and attending a preparatory school is often necessary to prepare for the challenging entrance exams.

Please find more info about universities, vocational schools, colleges, IUTs, grandes écoles and prep schools here:

French diplomas

Higher Education French Diplomas


The Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS) diploma is a national qualification in France that represents a short cycle of higher education. BTS can be completed in 2 years while a Licence/Bachelor can be completed in 3 years. The purpose of a BTS is to prepare students for immediate entry into a specific profession, with a strong emphasis on practical skills.

BTS programs are typically offered in high schools after obtaining a baccalauréat, while Licence and BUT programs are conducted within the university system.

Licence, BUT, and Beyond

Upon entering higher education, the landscape broadens with the Licence, Bachelor Universitaire de Technologie (BUT), Maitrise, Master, and Doctorat.

The 3-year Licence is akin to a Bachelor’s degree, offering a foundation in a particular field of study. The BUT, also a bachelor-level qualification, is recognized for its dual focus on academic rigour and professional skills, designed to enhance employability directly after graduation. Licences are offered in universities, while BUTs are offered in IUTs.

For those pursuing advanced studies, the Maitrise and Master’s degrees signify deep academic and practical knowledge in specialized areas. A Maîtrise requires 1 year of study after obtaining a Licence or Bachelor’s degree, while a Master’s program requires 2 years of study. These programs, often involving research and internships, are highly regarded worldwide, opening doors to international careers and further studies.

The pinnacle of French higher education, the Doctorat (PhD), is a testament to scholarly excellence and research capability, recognized globally in both academia and industry. Typically, a Doctorat lasts 3 to 4 years after completing a Master’s degree.

Professional Titles and RNCP

Beyond traditional degrees, France offers Titre Professionnels registered at the Répertoire National des Certifications Professionnelles (RNCP), which are professional certifications recognizing specific job skills and competencies. These qualifications are particularly valuable for those looking to enhance their employability or pivot their career paths, as they are closely aligned with industry needs and are recognized by employers both in France and abroad.

Professional titles are categorized into 8 EQF levels, which stand for the European Qualifications Framework. Here’s a simplified description of the 8 EQF levels:

  • Level 1: equivalent to basic education
  • Level 2: equivalent to secondary education
  • Level 3: equivalent to a CAP/BEP
  • Level 4: equivalent to a Baccalauréat
  • Level 5: equivalent to a BTS
  • Level 6: equivalent to a Licence (Bachelor)
  • Level 7: equivalent to a Master
  • Level 8: equivalent to a Doctorat (PhD)

French diplomas

Global Recognition

French diplomas are highly regarded worldwide. They are keys to unlocking a world of opportunities. The use of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) facilitates the recognition of French degrees within Europe and in other countries that recognize the ECTS framework.

Read more about ECTS framework here:

Additionally, France has numerous bilateral agreements with countries around the world, aimed at recognizing academic qualifications mutually. These agreements significantly ease the process of degree recognition, ensuring that the professional practices you’ve learned at your vocational school in France are valued in your home country.

Plan Your Study In France

Whether you’re starting with a CAP or BEP, aiming for a Baccalauréat, or pursuing higher education with a Licence, Master, or Doctorat, you’re embarking on a journey that will prepare you for a successful career.

At Go! Go! France, we’re dedicated to making your dream of studying in France a reality. Through our tailored services, comprehensive support, and student-first approach, we simplify the visa application process and pave the way for your educational adventure in France. When you feel ready to start, contact Go! Go! France team here to get your life and study in France journey started.

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