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"General scheme of the French education system"

École maternelle

Nursery school; ages 3-6

École primaire

Primary school; ages 6-11


Secondary school/Middle School; ages 11-15; 6th-9th grade (6ème-3ème)

Diplôme National du Brevet

School certificate earned to move on to high school or other paths

Lycée général et technologique

General and Technological High School; 10th, 11th, and 12th grade (Seconde, Première, et Terminale)

BAC général et Technologique

Extremely difficult test taken in order to qualify for graduation from high school into a university

Lycée professionnel

Vocational High School; 10th, 11th, and 12th grade (Seconde, Première, et Terminale)

BAC professionnel

Extremely difficult test taken only to graduate from high school and start a career

Certificat d'aptitude professionnel

Certificate of professional training, CAP; takes 2 years to complete

Brevet d'etudes professionnelles

Professional patent studies, BEP; takes 2 years to complete

Classes préparatoires

Courses taken after passing BAC to prepare for the "concours"; taken for 2 years


Competitive examination taken in order to get into "grandes écoles" after taking preparatory classes

Grandes Écoles

Universities of polytechnics, engineering, commerce, and management which require the "concours"


Regular university taken after BAC; for 3 years to obtain license, for 5 years to obtain master's degree, and for 8 years to obtain doctorate degree

Institut universitaire de technologie

IUT taken after BAC; take for 2 years to obtain a Higher Technician Certificate ("Brevet de technicien supérieur"; BTS)

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