Top 20 Universities in France for 2023 - Postgraduate |
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2023 French University Rankings - Top Choices for Postgraduate Study

Written by Mark Bennett

France is Europe's second most popular destination for international postgraduate study (after the UK). It's also the second most popular non-anglophone country (though many Masters programmes in France are actually taught in English).

All of this is a testament to the quality of France's higher education system, which is home to some of Europe's most historic and innovative institutions.

But how does France do in academic ranking tables? And which French universities are the 'best' for Masters study?

This page summarises the performance of French universities in different global rankings.

Top Ranked French Universities

The following table lists the best universities in France in 2023 according to global rankings.

This information is based on the latest rankings tables, researched and published by Times Higher Education, QS and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).

Each ranking system uses its own methodology, with different factors having more or less influence on a university's result.

For more information on using international rankings as a postgraduate, see our guide.

Top 20 French Universities in 2023
University THE 2023 QS 2023 ARWU 2022
Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris 47 26 40
Sorbonne University 90 60 43
Institut Polytechnique de Paris =95 48 301-400
Paris-Saclay University 93 69 16
University of Paris =114 =248 78
École des Ponts ParisTech 251-300 - -
Aix-Marseille University 301-350 =490 -
University of Bordeaux 301-350 521-530 201-300
École Normale Supérieure de Lyon 301-350 111 -
Montpellier University 301-350 501-510 -
Grenoble Alpes University 401-500 =317 101-150
IMT Atlantique 351-400 - -
Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 401-500 601-650 201-300
University of Côte d’Azur 501-600 751-800 501-600
École des Mines de Saint-Étienne 501-600 - -
L’institut Agro 401-500 - -
Sciences Po 501-600 259 -
Centrale Nantes 501-600 - -
Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées 501-600 - -
University of Lille 501-600 751-800 301-400
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

How do rankings work for Masters study?

International rankings use all sorts of metrics to assess universities and they aren't all equally relevant to postgraduate study. That's why we've put together a guide to university rankings for Masters students.

So, how good are French universities for Masters study?

With a cluster of institutions in the world top 200 and many others across the full global rankings, France can be proud of its place in international league tables.

But rankings alone don't necessarily reflect the quality of French postgraduate education - and you shouldn't assume that France is worse than another country simply because it appears to have less top-ranked institutions.

Unlike other countries, French universities tend to be smaller and more specialised. In fact, many of them were originally part of larger institutions before being broken up into separate units.

This is why many French universities have a number in their name, indicating that they were once part of a regional institution.

You can read more about French higher education in our guide to Masters study in France.

Smaller universities can be more specialised, with real expertise in specific fields. Many of them also network to share resources and facilities. But, individually, they may struggle for visibility in the 'zoomed out' world of global rankings.

One way to get around this is to zoom back in and look at rankings in specific subjects, an option included in THE’s league table.

Search for a Masters in France

Our database includes plenty of French Masters degrees and our listings provide lots of helpful information about specific programs. Why not take a look?

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Last updated: 26 October 2022