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Top Universities in France

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France boasts 31 entrants in the QS World University Rankings® 2020, 10 of which are ranked within the world’s top 300. Think you’d like to study in the land of croissants, champagne and camembert? Here’s a closer look at the country’s top 10 universities.

QS World University Rankings 2020 - Top Universities in France

France rank Global rank University
1 53
Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL)
2 =60 École Polytechnique
3 77 Sorbonne University
4 139 CentraleSupélec
5 =160 École Normale Supérieure de Lyon
6 =224 Sciences Po Paris
7 242 Télécom ParisTech
8 250 École des Ponts ParisTech
9 =253 University of Paris
10 =262 Université Paris-Sud 11

10. Université Paris-Sud 11

Université Paris-Sud 11

Ranked joint 262nd in this year’s QS World University Rankings, Université Paris-Sud 11 is spread across four campuses in the southern suburbs of the city, and is particularly renowned for its science and mathematics courses.

9. University of Paris

Université Paris Diderot

A new entrant in 2020, the University of Paris (not to be confused with the historic institution of the same name), comes in at joint 253rd in this year’s world ranking. Its 2018 foundation is due to the merger of Université Paris Descartes, Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7) and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (The Paris Institute of Earth Physics, IPGP).

8. École des Ponts ParisTech

École des Ponts ParisTech

École des Ponts ParisTech is up 13 places to rank 250th in the world this year. It’s one of the smaller French universities, with just over 2,000 students studying here. The university is another founding member of ParisTech.

7. Télécom ParisTech

Telecom ParisTech

Télécom ParisTech is another new entrant among the top universities in France this year, coming just ahead of École des Ponts ParisTech at 249th in the world. It’s known as one of the number one engineering schools in the country, appearing in the global top 300 for engineering and technology according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019.

6. Sciences Po Paris

Sciences Po

Sciences Po Paris, a university that specializes in law, economics, social science, politics, history and related fields, is ranked 242nd in the world in 2020. It has around 14,000 students, of which almost half are international, with more than 150 nationalities represented on campus.

5. École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is down slightly to rank joint 160th in the world this year, but nonetheless continues to be fifth among the top universities in France.  Another of the grande écoles, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is an elite public institution which trains researchers and teachers in the humanities and sciences.

4. CentraleSupélec

CentraleSupélec

CentraleSupélec is ranked 139th in the world in 2020 and was formed by the 2015 merger of École Centrale Paris and the Supélec graduate school of engineering and is a founding member of the Université Paris-Saclay, an association of research-intensive French universities.

3. Sorbonne University

Sorbonne University

A new institution formed by a merger (in this case of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University), Sorbonne University is ranked 77th in the world in 2020 and achieves its strongest score in the academic reputation indicator (one of the six used to compile the rankings).

2. Ecole Polytechnique (ParisTech)

Ecole Polytechnique ParisTech

École Polytechnique is up five places to rank joint 60th in the world in 2020 and is the founding member of the ParisTech collegiate university, which specializes in science and business courses. Located 30km outside the Paris city center, the campus offers 120 hectares of green space for its 4,600 students to enjoy.

1. Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL)

Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL)

And finally, ranked 53rd in the world and first place among the top universities in France continues to be Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL), a collegiate university which was formed in 2010 and is made up of nine constituent colleges, including the highly selective École normale supérieure (ENS Paris).

PSL achieves its strongest scores in the employer reputation and faculty/student ratio indicators, and maintains strong links with employers as well as strategic partnerships with other prestigious universities around the world.

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The remaining top universities in France are:

  1. Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne – ranked joint 305th in the world.
  2. École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay – ranked joint 312th in the world.
  3. Université Grenoble-Alpes – ranked joint 351st in the world.
  4. Université de Strasbourg– ranked joint 379th in the world.
  5. Université de Bordeaux – ranked joint 458th in the world, up 31 places.
  6. Université Aix-Marseille– ranked joint 491st in the world.
  7. Université de Montpellier– ranked joint 498th in the world.

After the top 500, the ranking continues in ranges, starting at 501-510, continuing up to 801-1000. Click here for more information.

  1. Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA)– ranked 501-510 in the world.
  2. Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III – ranked 511-520 in the world.
  3. Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris 2)– ranked 531-540 in the world.
  4. 20. University of Côte d'Azur – ranked 561-570 in the world.
  5. Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 – ranked 651-700 in the world.
  6. Université de Lille– ranked 701-750 in the world.
  7. Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis – ranked 651-700 in the world.
  8. Université de Lorraine – ranked 751-800 in the world.

The remaining seven French universities are all ranked 801-1000 in the world, making them joint 25th in France:

=25. Université de Nantes

=25. Université de Poitiers

=25. Université de Rennes 1

=25. Université Lumière Lyon 2

=25. Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3

=25. Université Toulouse 1, Capitole

=25. University Toulouse – Jean Jaurès

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This article was originally published in September 2016. It was last updated in June 2019.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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7 Comments

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