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Top Universities in France

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France boasts 36 entrants in the QS World University Rankings® 2021, 10 of which are ranked within the world’s top 300.

The rankings are based on a methodology which assesses each university on its academic and employer reputations, research impact and more.

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 2021 - Top Universities in France

France rank

Global rank

University

1

  52 

2

  68 

3

  83 

4

  138 

5

  161 

=6

  242=

=6

  242=

8

  275=

9

  287=

10

  291=

10. ENS Paris-Saclay

ENS Paris-Saclay

Entering France’s top 10 this year is ENS Paris-Saclay, formally known as ENS Cachan. The school ranks joint 291st in the world after climbing an incredible 21 places this year. It earns its highest score in the faculty/student ratio indicator, where it ranks in the world top 100.

The university has recently moved campuses to the commune of Gif-sur-Yvette, France's ‘Silicon Valley’, where it is near other members of the Paris-Saclay research-intensive and business cluster. However, it retains its student accommodation and administrative offices at its original campus in Cachan.

9. Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Flickr: tathibodeau

The Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne rises an impressive 18 places in this year’s world university rankings to earn joint 287th place. It earns its highest score in the academic reputation indicator, where it ranks 118th in the world.

The university was founded in 1971 from two faculties of the University of Paris. Today the school specializes in economic and management sciences, human sciences and legal and political sciences.

8. Université de Paris

Université de Paris

The University of Paris comes in at joint 275th in this year’s world ranking, after falling 22 places.

Located in the heart of Paris, the university’s 2018 foundation is due to the merger of Université Paris DescartesUniversité Paris Diderot (Paris 7) and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (The Paris Institute of Earth Physics, IPGP).

=6. Sciences Po Paris

Sciences Po Paris is a university that specializes in law, economics, social science, politics, history and related fields. It is ranked 242nd in the world in 2021. It has around 14,000 students, of which almost half are international, with more than 150 nationalities represented on campus.

=6. École des Ponts ParisTech

École des Ponts ParisTech

École des Ponts ParisTech is up eight places to rank joint 242nd in the world this year, along with Sciences Po Paris. It’s one of the smaller French universities, with just over 2,000 students studying there. The university is another founding member of ParisTech.

5. École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is down slightly to rank 161st 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 138th in the world in 2021 and was formed by the 2015 merger of École Centrale Paris and the Supélec graduate school of engineering. It 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 the merger of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University, Sorbonne University is ranked 83rd in the world in 2021 and achieves its strongest score in the academic reputation indicator, ranking 42nd in the world.

2. Ecole Polytechnique (ParisTech)

Ecole Polytechnique (ParisTech)

École Polytechnique is up five places to rank joint 68th in the world in 2021 and is the founding member of the ParisTech collegiate university, which specializes in science and business courses. It ranks 15th worldwide for the employer reputation indicator.

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)

Finally, ranked 52nd 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 score in the employer reputation indicator, ranking 20th in the world. The university maintains strong links with employers as well as strategic partnerships with other prestigious universities around the world.

The remaining top universities in France are:

  1. Université Grenoble-Alpes -ranked joint 342nd in the world
  2. Paris-Saclay University - ranked joint 362nd in the world
  3. Université de Strasbourg – ranked joint 398th in the world
  4. Université de Bordeaux – ranked 425th 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.

=15. Université Aix-Marseille – ranked 511-520 in the world

=15. Université de Montpellier– ranked 511-520 in the world

=17. Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA) – ranked 541-550 in the world

=17. Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris 2) – ranked 541-550 in the world

  1. Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III– ranked 551-560 in the world
  2. University Côte d'Azur– ranked 601-650 in the world
  3. Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1– ranked 701-750 in the world
  4. Université de Lille ranked 751-800 in the world

=23. Université de Lorraine– ranked 801-1000 in the world

=23. Université de Nantes– ranked 801-1000 in the world

=23. Université de Rennes 1– ranked 801-1000 in the world

=23. Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ) – ranked 801-1000 in the world

=23. Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3– ranked 801-1000 in the world

=23. Université Toulouse 1, Capitole– ranked 801-1000 in the world

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This article was originally published in September 2016. It was last updated in June 2020.

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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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