Focus: French HE

A perspective from our Evaluators – issues to bear in mind when considering qualifications from specific countries. This first article examines some of the non-standard titles awarded by French higher education institutions.


Higher education in France is provided by universities, university institutes, grandes écoles and specialist state and private institutions. However, it should be noted that, under French law, anyone can set up an institution offering higher education. So whilst an institution may be recognised by the French Ministry of Education as having the right to operate, it is not necessarily the case that the final qualifications constitute national awards within the French national education system or are even recognised by the French authorities. Only Universities have the authority to award national qualifications such as the Licence, Master and Doctorat, etc.

Business Schools

The French Ministry of Education grants Business Schools the right to award a Diplôme Visé – and publishes a list of institutions authorised to award these diplomas every year in the Bulletin Officiel. The final certificate is issued by the Business School itself so the design may vary as there is no national format. The title can also vary, although it is usually Diplôme de followed by the name of institution.

From 1999 onwards, Business Schools can also request authorisation from the Ministry of Education to award the title of ‘Grade de Master’ to those graduating with the Diplôme. A listing of these institutions and the dates between which they were authorised to award the ‘Grade de Master’ is also published every year in the Bulletin Officiel.

You should note, however, that the Business Schools offer a whole range of other qualifications, such as MBAs, BBAs, etc. that are not recognised by the French authorities, but tend to be highly regarded within the labour market.

Engineering Schools

The title of Diplôme d’Ingénieur is a ‘titre protegée’ (protected title). Engineering Schools must therefore be granted the right to award the title by the Commission des Titres d’Ingénieur (CTI). A list of Engineering Schools authorised to award the title of Diplôme d’Ingénieur is maintained by the CTI and published in the Bulletin Officiel every year.

From 1999 onwards, Engineering Schools have also been authorised to award the Grade de Master to those graduating with the Diplôme d’Ingénieur. Engineering Schools may offer other qualifications, such as specialised Master’s degrees, Bachelor degrees, etc. that are not recognised by the French authorities, but also tend to be highly regarded within the labour market.

Professional Titles:

Ministries, chambers of commerce, universities, private higher education institutions and even organisations can submit their professional titles (in the UK sense incorporating both professional and vocational awards) to the Commission Nationale de la Certification Professionnelle (CNCP) to be registered on the Répertoire National des Certifications Professionnelles (RNCP) by undergoing a process known as ‘homologation’. This process was set up by the Ministere du Travail to assign professional titles a niveau (level), with the aim of facilitating employment and aiding salary negotiations. There are five levels within the framework, each corresponding to one (or several) academic awards within the French national qualifications framework. The registration can be ongoing or can apply for a specified period.

The final certificate for professional titles that have undergone the homologation process will usually indicate the level to which it has been homologated so will state Niveau followed by a Roman numeral e.g. Niveau IV.


In order to assess French qualifications the most important things to establish are:

1)    The full, official title, in French, of the qualification

2)    The name, in French, of the awarding institution

3)    The year that the qualification was awarded

You will therefore need a copy of the final certificate in the original language.

If the individual has not yet completed the course, you should request an official letter or statement from the institution in French to confirm the above three details.

If the final certificate for a homolgated professional title does not indicate the level you should request that the individual provides a statement from the Commission Nationale de la
Certification Professionnelle
confirming the date and level of homologation of the award (those whose qualifications have been homologated to Niveau I should also provide a full set of transcripts).

4 Thoughts

  1. Where do the Academies fit in? I have seen Bac Techs issued by the Academie de Rouen, for example. Are the Academies authorised to issue qualifications?

    1. The Académies are under the French Ministry of National Education rather than the Ministry of Higher Education. In this regard, we would expect final graduation certificates for school awards (such as the Diplôme du Baccalauréat Général, Diplôme du Baccalauréat Professionnel, Diplôme du Baccalauréat Technologique, etc) to be awarded by the respective Académies.

  2. Hi,

    thanks for your insightful article!

    Can NARIC certify some level of equality for those specialised Master’s degrees issued by Business and Engineering schools, not issued by the French authorities?


    1. Hi Juan,
      Thanks for the comment.
      UK NARIC can provide comparisons of awards which have a recognised level within the framework of the country of origin. Without being benchmarked within the country of origin UK NARIC will not be able to ascertain to what level this sits and therefore unable to compare to a level within the UK framework.
      Master’s degrees that are not part of the National Framework within the country of origin can be presented directly to admitting institutions for their consideration.
      Kind Regards,
      UK NARIC

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