French degrees, LMD system and equivalences

French higher education has adopted the LMD system. Most degrees that it awards also give European Credit Transfer System (ECTS credits)that are recognised by many countries in the European Union and around the world.

This system standardises the levels and organises recognition of the degrees in the different countries. It makes educational mobility easier in Europe and elsewhere.


LMD degrees are obtained by successfully completing a certain number of semesters from the time of entry in the higher education programme. Each semester awards up to 30 ECTS (European Credits Transfer System) credits that are valid in, and can be transferred to other countries.

A Bachelor's requires successful completion of six semesters, resulting in 180 ECTS credits. An additional four semesters are required to obtain a Master's, with an additional 120 ECTS credits. A Doctorate is awarded after successful completion of sixteen semesters and awards a total of 480 ECTS credits in a minimum of eight years of studies starting from the first year of the Bachelor's programme.

schéma système enseignement supérieur LMD

Degrees recognised and guaranteed by the French government

The value of a French higher education diploma is guaranteed by the State when it's a French diploma, a degree certified by the French Ministry of Education ("diplôme visé") or titles registered on the RNCP (French Directory of Professional Certifications).

For various "Grandes Ecoles" and business/engineering schools, the quality of training and diplomas may also be certified by independent organisations issuing accreditations or labels.

Equivalences between French and foreign degrees

Each establishment defines its own admission criteria, according to the student's background and the programme requirements. Only the host establishment is authorised to accept or refuse an applicant. Mutual agreements to recognise degrees may nonetheless make requests for equivalence easier.

The ENIC-NARIC centre may provide an attestation certifying to the French value of a degree obtained from a foreign educational system. This attestation does not constitute an equivalence in and of itself, but some institutes of higher education require it. The procedure costs 70 Euros per request.

The ENIC-NARIC European network also lets you certify the value for your country of the years you spent studying in France.


Certifying professional experience

There are several structures that certify professional experience with the aim of enrolling in training or certifying a degree, diploma or level of qualification.

There are two distinct procedures: VAP 85 and VAE. The first enables direct access to training following certification of past experience. The second awards all or part of a degree by certifying the applicant's skills and knowledge.

The applicant must submit a dossier to a jury. In practice, these structures are frequently used by French higher education institutes to determine the level of an applicant with respect to the requirements of the programmes they provide.