You are here : en / Study in Lyon / Before arrival / Survival guide / Understand the French higher education system

Understand the French higher education system

ESDES is part of the elite group of top French schools known as the "Grandes Écoles" an honor which attests to the quality of education that is offered at the school. In addition to offering Master's degrees in either Management or Engineering, the members of "Grandes Écoles" are linked by their focus on innovative teaching methods, international mobility for students and faculty members, and their research departments. The "Grandes Écoles" were founded as an alternative to the broader education provided by universities and despite their name, most of the "Grandes Écoles" are actually quite small, enrolling fewer than 1,000 students.


The LMD System

Following reforms in the French higher education system, there are now 3 distinct parts or LMD (Licence-Master's-Doctorate) as the system is popularly called. To be awarded a License, the student must earn 180 credits in six semesters, and for a Master's degree the students must earn 120 credits in four semesters after the License. During the transition period a Masters I degree may be awarded after 60 credits and a Masters II degree after 120 credits (after the Licence).

  • A Licence is acquired in 3 years, consisting of individually accumulated credits, allowing each student to mix studies and work. The first year is aimed at choosing a major and acquiring solid basis in the student's chosen field of study and the last year, includes a term of work-study, with a professional orientation.
  • A Masters in 2 years after the licence (as opposed to only 1 year previously) serves to further a particular major course of study. The second year is dedicated to a professional work placement, classes and/or study abroad, and a thesis that compliment the major field.
  • Doctoral programs typically take 3 years to complete and are only open to students who already have a master's degree in their field. Research is fundamental.
Information for exchange students :
Grading at ESDES is based on the French educational system.
The grading scale is from 0-20, with 20 being the highest possible grade and 0 the lowest. 10 is the average and everything below 10 is a failure grade. The grading scale is included on transcripts to help students interpret and transfer the grades.

A rough guideline is:
  • 20-18 Outstanding
  • 17-16 Excellent
  • 15-14 Good Work
  • 13-12 Relatively Good Work
  • 11-10 Satisfactory Work
  • 9-8 Below the expected standard for class and school
  • 7-6 Well below the required standard. Unsatisfactory work
  • 5-0 Unacceptable Work