September Intake at French Universities – The What, When and Why
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September Intake at French Universities – The What, When and Why

Written by Taru Medha

With so many top-ranking universities and a reputation for an incredible student experience, it is no wonder that France is a popular postgraduate study destination. You also have the chance to apply for a Masters or PhD in France twice in a year. French universities have two intakes per year, with one starting in September (also called the fall intake).

If you’re thinking of applying this year, we’ve detailed everything you need to know about the September intake in France from important dates, deadlines and application timelines.

If you’re not ready to make an application yet, you can always wait for the January (spring) intake. You can read our other guide on the January intake for more information.


Key features of September intake in France
Application start time Early May
Application end time Mid-July to mid-August
Acceptance letters July to August
Term dates September start

The September intake

The fall intake in France starts in September and is the more popular intake, especially among international students. Classes for the fall intake usually begin around mid-September.

If you’re wishing to apply for the French September intake, you must start preparing by early March of the same year you want to study. Applications usually open in May and close by July or August, but this can vary depending on your course and institution. You can usually find this information on the institution website or contact them directly.

The September intake timeline

There are a number of steps to go through when applying for a Masters or PhD in France. If you are an international student and have to apply for a visa, you are also likely to be running on a tight schedule. We have highlighted some important milestones and created a rough timeline for how you should go about preparing your application for a French postgraduate degree, so you don’t miss anything.

Step #1 - Early March of the same year you want to study – Prepare and shortlist

Even though applications for the fall intake won’t open till May, it is always a good idea to start early. This is a good time to start looking at universities that offer courses you might be interested in and shortlisting where you wish to apply. Take note of any specific deadlines set by specific institutions so you can time the next steps accordingly.

Step #2 - April – Get supporting documents ready

Once you’ve decided where to apply, you can start getting the bulk of your application ready. The documents you need are usually specified in the course listing and can vary depending on your course. However, you can expect to need an English or French language test result depending on the language your course is taught in.

You might also be asked to provide transcripts, references and a research proposal as part of your application. Its good to give your referees plenty of time to get this to you.

Step #3 – May/June – Search for funding options

Even though studying a PhD in France is one of the more affordable options, it is always a good idea to apply for funding especially if you’re an international student on a budget. Depending on the kind of funding, you might be able to apply at this stage or you might have to wait till you have confirmation from your university.

Step #4 – May/June/July – Apply to your chosen university!

Now that you have everything ready, it’s time to make your application. Depending on your nationality, you can either apply directly to your university or via the Ètudes en France online portal. We have more information on how to apply for a PhD in France in our guide.

You’ll usually start hearing back from the universities you have applied to in July or August.

Step #5 – July/August – Apply for your student visa and find accommodation

Once you have received confirmation from your university, you can apply for your student visa. It’s good to give yourself plenty of time to make your visa application and account for any delays in processing.

This is also a good time to start looking for your PhD accommodation. Student accommodation in France is competitive and it is good to start your search early.

Step #6 – August/September – Get ready to fly!

Classes for the fall intake usually begin in mid-September so it is a good idea to fly with a few days to spare so you can get acquainted with the new culture and place

Why should you study in France in the September intake?

The September intake is popular among students wanting to study in France and a lot of universities offer courses that start during this time. Even though the decision of when to start your studies depends on so many different factors, we have listed some reasons why the fall intake might be the more sought-after choice.

  • There are more courses available at this time of the year and universities have more available spaces to meet the overall higher demand during this time.
  • It is easier to get an on-campus job or other part time work if you start in September.

Application for the September intake open later in the year so you have plenty of time to decide whether you wish to study a PhD in France next year. You can read our comprehensive guides on French PhD applications, courses and visas on our website.

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Last Updated: 17 November 2023