• FindA University Ltd Featured Masters Courses
  • Jacobs University Featured Masters Courses
  • University of Cambridge Featured Masters Courses
  • University of Edinburgh Featured Masters Courses
  • Swansea University Featured Masters Courses
  • Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University Featured Masters Courses
  • Ulster University Featured Masters Courses
  • University of Leeds Featured Masters Courses
Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine Featured Masters Courses
Imperial College London Featured Masters Courses
Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University Featured Masters Courses
Ulster University Featured Masters Courses
Loughborough University Featured Masters Courses

Top Ranked Universities in France - A Postgraduate Guide

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

All of this is a testament to the quality of France's higher education system: 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. We've also compared the top French universities in different postgraduate subject areas.

Top Ranked French Universities

The following table gives the 30 best universities in France, 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.

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.

University THE Ranking (2015-16) QS Ranking (2015-16) Shanghai Ranking (2015)
École Normale Supérieure Paris 54 23 72
École Polytechnique (ParisTech) 101 40 301-400
Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6) 113 137 36
University of Paris-Sud (Paris 11) 188 241 41
Paris Diderot University (Paris 7) 199 261 101-150
École Normale Supérieure de Lyon 199 261 101-150
Joseph Fourier University (Grenoble 1) 201-250 235 151-200
Paris Descartes University (Paris 5) 201-250 387 151-200
Aix-Marseille University 251-300 361 101-150
University of Bordeaux 251-300 441-450 201-300
Paris Sorbonne University (Paris 4) 251-300 222 -
Montpellier University 301-350 376 201-300
University of Strasbourg 301-350 241 87
Toulouse 1 Capitole University 301-350 701+ -
Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris 1) 351-400 240 -
Lille 2 University – Health and Law 351-400 701+ -
Claude Bernard University (Lyon 1) 401-500 481-490 201-300
University of Nantes 401-500 651-700 -
National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon (INSA Lyon) 401-500 387 -
University of Nice Sophia Antipolis 401-500 551-600 401-500
Blaise Pascal University (Clermont-Ferrand 2) 501-600 - -
University of Burgundy 501-600 - -
Paris Dauphine University (Paris 9) 501-600 369 301-400
University of Rennes 1 501-600 501-550 201-300
University of Cergy-Pontoise 601-800 701+ -
Lille University of Science and Technology (Lille 1) 601-800 471-480 -
CentraleSupélec - 293 -
Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan (ENS Cachan) - 219 151-200
École des ponts ParisTech - 314 -
Université Paul Sabatier (Toulouse 3) - 397 201-300
Information in this table is based on the 2015-16 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. For example, the Paris Sorbonne University (Paris 4) and Paris Diderot University (Paris 7) are both 'descended' from the historical University of Paris (as are other 'numbered' Paris universities).

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.

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?

French University Rankings by Subject

Global rankings like those above aren't specific to postgraduate study. They look at a wide range of factors, some of which aren't directly relevant to Masters students.

Subject-specific rankings can be more helpful, particularly for a country like France where universities often focus on specific academic fields.

Masters degrees benefit from this kind of specialised facilities and expertise. How a French university performs in your subject area can therefore be more important than its overall ranking.

The following table lists the top French universities in six broad subject areas. It's based on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject. This lists the best 100 universities in different academic fields, around the world.

University Ranking by subject
Physical Sciences Engineering & Technology Life Sciences Social Sciences Arts & Humanities Medicine & Health
École Polytechnique (ParisTech) 22 37 - - - -
École Normale Supérieure Paris 25 - 57 - 46 -
Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris 6) 44 - - 85 - 55
University of Paris-Sud (Paris 11) 66 - - - - 73
École Normale Supérieure de Lyon 84 93 - - - -
Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris 1) - - 99 - 33 -
Paris Descartes University (Paris 5) - - - - - 73
Information in this table is based on the 2015-16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject. This ranks the top 100 global universities in six core academic fields.

The French universities in this table are amongst the very best in the world for specific subject areas. This makes them excellent choices for a Masters degree in these fields.

Again, these rankings reflect the French tendency towards specialisation. The universities here tend to rank highly in two or three fields, showing their areas of focus. This makes them perfect for advanced postgraduate work.

Looking for more information about postgraduate study in France?

Our detailed guide to Masters study in France can help you make more sense of the French higher education system - and it's advantages for postgraduate study. or you can find out how much a French Masters is likely to cost with our overview of fees and funding.

Last updated - 12/04/2016

This article is the property of FindAMasters.com and may not be reproduced without permission.

Click here to search our database of Masters courses

Share this page:

Cookie Policy    X