Business and education

Studying Business & Management in France

When students choose to study business management in France they choose highly specialized and focused instruction. Of the 125,000 international students in France, 35,000 are studying business. France's universities and freestanding business schools offer more than 400 recognized degree programs that cover the full range of management disciplines and skills. Fifty universities offer degrees in management as part of their academic curriculum, as do 27 university-based institutes of business administration, 95 university-level institutes of technology, and 40 business schools. Programs are found in every major city in France. Top programs prepare students for careers at the very highest levels of business and government.

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Specialized instruction in business got an early start in France with the creation of the first business school in Paris in 1819.

Over the years, the content and methods of French business education have kept pace with the continual development of knowledge in economics and changes in business practices. University programs offer a wide range of professional education, from the general to the very specialized, that covers all sectors of management as well as advanced research. The very selective programs of the freestanding business schools are in close touch with the realities of business firms and the economic world. They train executives and managers to perform at the highest levels of trade, manufacturing, and services.

Excellence in teaching is assured by a faculty that maintains direct contact with the realities of business life. Most programs benefit from the participation of active managers and directors. Theoretical instruction is often provided by renowned members of the university faculty, particularly at upper levels of the curriculum. Frequent internships enable students continually to test theory against practice. Graduates thus benefit from a well rounded education that includes a strong multicultural and international dimension.

International students are welcomed. They may enter the universities and business schools at various points. Decisions concerning the recognition of applicants' credentials are made by the enrolling institution. Students are admitted on the basis of their academic record, an entrance examination, or another form of test. Students should inquire directly of the institutions whose programs interest them at least several months prior to the beginning of the program.

A variety of degree programs
The universities and schools offer a variety of degrees recognized by the French government. That recognition is a guarantee of quality and adherence to the highest international standards.

Students at universities may earn a degree of ingénieur maître (master engineer) in management, banking, or finance after just one year of general university study in business economics. Two professional degrees-the licence and maîtrise-can be earned in three or four years, respectively. Students in both the licence and maîtrise programs receive an intermediate postsecondary credential, the DEUG, in business economics.

Advanced study leading to the mastaire (5 years of postsecondary education) can take one of several paths:

Some students specialize in a specific area of management such as marketing, finance, auditing, or human resources.
Other students obtain the mastaire as a step toward a doctorate. A doctorate requires eight years of study.
Still others pursue joint degree programs, earning a magistère together with one of two traditional academic degrees (a DESS or DEA).

Beginning with the fifth year of postsecondary education, most universities provide their management training in so-called IAEs (Instituts d'administration des entreprises, or institutes of business administration). The DESS CAAE degree, a general management credential that complements other nonmanagement specializations such as engineering or medicine, is a unique feature of the IAEs that is much appreciated by international students.

The freestanding business schools grant a nationally recognized diploma after three years of postsecondary study. They also offer specialized professional programs, including specialized master's degrees and MBAs, for students who have completed five years of higher education.

In some areas, business schools and universities have joined together to design innovative programs and degrees that share features of both systems.

Nearly all of the universities and schools offer a concentration on Europe, which gives their graduates a truly European perspective. For example, EAP (the Ecole Européenne des Affaires or European business school has four campuses in Europe among which students may move. France's largest business schools have spent considerable sums to attract eminent faculty that allow them to compete with top institutions like Stanford and the London Business School.

Several university and business school programs are recruiting a diverse body of international students into innovative programs taught partially or entirely in English. Students receive not only advanced management education but also an introduction to France and Europe. Most of these internationally oriented institutions belong to Agence EduFrance, a new agency formed by the French ministries of education and foreign affairs to recruit highly qualified international students into France's best degree programs. The EAP-ESCP graduate program, for example, trains students in multicultural management. The specialized master's program in industrial management at the ISGI in Lille is a bilingual program that trains engineer-managers in project management. ESSEC's MBA in international luxury brand management is taught in English and prepares graduates for careers in the prestige-goods sector, where France is a world leader.

Although mastery of French is not absolutely necessary for business study in France, a good command of the language is highly recommended as a path into other business-related areas of French higher education. Students who take the time to learn French will also gain a better understanding of French life and add yet another accomplishment to their resume-always a plus. International students may choose to learn French in their home country before coming to France to study, through the international network of Alliances Françaises around the world, at one of the Instituts Français, or at a French cultural center, club, or other institution.
It is also possible to study French in France, of course. Students can even focus on business French through short- or long-term courses in Paris or elsewhere. Many universities and schools offer intensive French-language courses of very high quality. These are described in an annual booklet published by the French ministry of foreign affairs.

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