Here, in broad strokes, is how postsecondary courses in France are organized.

Academic calendar

In France, the academic year begins in September or October and ends in May or June, depending on the institution and program. 

The year is punctuated by vacations, including two weeks at the end of the year (Christmas and New Year's).

The two semesters are divided by a short break following final examinations at the end of the first semester.

The summer vacation lasts more than two months and always includes the months of July and August.


One finds two basic types of courses in French higher education, particularly in the universities.

Large lecture courses

Lectures are given in lecture halls accommodating from 100 to 1,000 learners. The professor speaks, while his or her students listen and take notes. Professors often prepare summaries of their lectures to help students prepare for exams.

Sections and labs

In sections and labs, small groups of students meet to apply or explore in greater detail the material covered in lectures. Attendance at sections and labs is mandatory, whereas attendance at the lectures is not.

In career-oriented programs offered in the universities  (DUT programs, licences professionnels, and professional masters), internships and practical training are required in addition to the small-group sections and labs.