France is Europe's second most popular destination for international postgraduate study (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, 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.
The following table lists the best universities in France in 2018-19 according to global rankings.
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 2018||QS 2018||ARWU 2017|
|École Normale Supérieure, Paris||=72||43||69|
|École Polytechnique (ParisTech)||115||59||401-500|
|Pierre and Marie Curie University||=123||131||40|
|École Normale Supérieure de Lyon||=182||157||201-300|
|Paris-Sorbonne University - Paris 4||196||=293||-|
|Paris Diderot University - Paris 7||201-250||=305||101-150|
|École des Ponts (ParisTech)||251-300||=270||-|
|University of Bordeaux||301-350||501-550||151-200|
|Grenoble Alpes University||301-350||=236||151-200|
|University of Côte d'Azur||351-400||-||-|
|Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées||351-400||-||-|
|University of Strasbourg||351-400||303||101-150|
|Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines||351-400||-||-|
|Claude Bernard University Lyon 1||401-500||501-550||201-300|
|University of Lille||401-500||-||-|
|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.|
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.
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, an option included in THE’s league table.
Last updated - 15/01/2018