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Top Universities in France

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France boasts 39 entrants in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017,17 of which are ranked within the world’s top 400. Read on for a quick look at the top 10 (all of which are in the top 250), plus an overview of how the remaining top universities in France placed this year…

1. Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris (ENS Paris)

ENS Paris

Ranked 1st among the top universities in France this year and 33rd in the world in 2016-2017, Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS Paris), founded in 1793, is one of the prestigious and competitive ‘grandes écoles’ and is considered particularly strong in the humanities and sciences. The university’s alumnus includes 13 Nobel Laureates, as well as philosophers such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida.

2. Ecole Polytechnique (ParisTech)


École Polytechnique (ParisTech) is ranked joint 53rd in the world in 2016-2017 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.

3. Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC)

Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC)

Ranked joint 141st in the world, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) was founded in 1971 when the former University of Paris split into separate institutions, and is now the largest scientific and medical complex in France. It has around 34,000 students, of which 20% are international.

4. CentraleSupélec


CentraleSupélec is ranked joint 164th in the world in 2016-2017 and was formed by the 2015 merger of École Centrale Paris and the Supélec graduate school of engineering. It’s a founding member of the Université Paris-Saclay, an association of research-intensive French universities.

5. École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

 École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

Up 11 places from the previous edition, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is ranked joint 177th in the world this year. 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.

6. Université Grenoble-Alpes

 Université Grenoble-Alpes

The Université Grenoble-Alpes is a new entry in the QS World University Rankings this year, in joint 206th place. It was formed as recently as January 2016, again through a merger, but its founding institutions date back much further – as far as 1339 in the case of Pierre Mendès-France University.

7. Sciences Po

Sciences Po

Heading back to Paris for the next of the top 10 universities in France, Sciences Po is ranked 220th in the world in 2016-2017. Specializing in law, economics, social science, politics, history and related fields, it has around 13,000 students, of which almost half are international, representing 150 nationalities.

8. Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV)

Université Paris-Sorbonne

Ranked 221st in the world, Université Paris-Sorbonne, (Paris IV) is another public research university founded after the division of the University of Paris, inheriting its arts, humanities and languages faculties and now hosting 21,000 students.

9. Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Up 12 places this year to feature at joint 228th in the world, the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne was also formed as a result of the former University of Paris being divided. It’s now one of the country’s largest universities, with around 40,000 students.

10. Université Paris-Sud 11

Université Paris-Sud 11

The final of the top 10 universities in France is Université Paris-Sud 11, another Parisian institution, spread across four campuses in the southern suburbs of the city. It’s particularly renowned for its science and mathematics courses and is ranked joint 241st in the world in 2016-2017.

Université de Strasbourg

The remaining top universities in France are:

11. Université de Strasbourg – ranked 260th in the world

12. Université Paris Diderot - Paris 7 – ranked 262nd in the world

13. Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan – ranked joint 264th in the world, up from joint 293rd last year

14. École des Ponts ParisTech – ranked 268th in the world

15. Université de Montpellier – ranked joint 327th in the world

16. Université Paris Dauphine – ranked joint 356th in the world

17. Université Paris Descartes – ranked joint 377th in the world

After the top 400, the ranking continues in ranges, starting at 401-410, continuing up to 701+. Click here for more information.

18. Université Aix-Marseille – ranked 411-420 in the world

19. Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA) – ranked 421-430 in the world

20. Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III – ranked 461-470 in the world

=21. Université de Bordeaux – ranked 501-550 in the world

=21. Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 – ranked 501-550 in the world

=21. Université Lille 1, Sciences et Technologie – ranked 501-550 in the world

=24. Université de Rennes 1 – ranked 601-650 in the world

=24. Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis – ranked 601-650 in the world

=24. Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris 2) – ranked 601-650 in the world

Université de Poitiers

The remaining top universities in France are all ranked in the 701+ range, making them joint 27th amongst French universities:

=27. Université Charles-de-Gaulle Lille 3

=27. Université de Caen Basse-Normandie

=27. Université de Cergy-Pontoise

=27. Université de Lorraine

=27. Université de Nantes

=27. Université de Poitiers

=27. Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3

=27. Université Lille 2 Droit et Santé

=27. Université Lumière Lyon 2

=27. Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense

=27. Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3

=27. Université Toulouse 1, Capitole

=27. University Toulouse – Jean Jaurès

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Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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