Learning: French educational system

The French educational system is well known because of the famous baccalauréat (also called "bac"). This diagram sums-up the main ways to French diplomas:

Age            
22-23  Ingé.
Ecole d'ingénieur
 DESS        
21-22  Maîtrise        
20-21  Licence        
19-20 Maths Spé.  DEUG  DUT  BTS    
18-19 Maths Sup. DEUG DUT BTS Terminale Pro  BAC pro
17-18 Terminale (T)  BAC Première Pro.
16-17 Première (1ère)  CAP  BEP
15-16 Seconde (2nde) CAP BEP
14-15 Troisième (3e)  Brevet des collèges
13-14 Quatrième (4e)
12-13 Cinquième (5e)
11-12 Sixième (6e)
10-11 Cours Moyen 2 (CM2)
9-10 Cours Moyen 1 (CM1)
8-9 Cours Elémentaire 2 (CE2)
7-8 Cours Elémentaire 1 (CE1)
6-7 Cours Préparatoire (CP)
5-6 Grande Section de maternelle
4-5 Moyenne Section de maternelle
3-4 Petite Section de maternelle
2-3

Each color used in the above diagram represents the place where courses are given:

  École d'ingénieur
  Institut Universitaire de Technologie (I.U.T.)
  Université
  Lycée professionnel
  Lycée
  Collège
  École primaire
  École maternelle

All this could be confusing for you but here are further explanations:

  • Children can go to school when aged 2
  • French start reading, writing and counting at 6 in the CP class
  • At the end of the Seconde class, you choose the BAC you want to pass:
    • Science (BAC S)
    • Arts (BAC L)
    • Economy (BAC ES)
    • Tertiary (BAC STT).
  • For example, if you choose S, you follow a 1ère S and a Terminale S.
  • You can't have access to universities or Engineering schools without a BAC. You have to repeat a year (=reboubler) until you get your Baccalauréat.
  • Maths Sup and Maths Spé are also called Classes préparatoires. They give no diploma but students are prepared for competitive examinations (=les coucours) in order to access Les Grandes Ecoles or some Engineering schools.

Please read official French Ministry of Education web site for more.