France - Country Commercial Guide
Educational Services (EDU)

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-03-25

Capital:  Paris

Population:  68 million (July 2021 est.)

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity): $2.832 trillion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Language: French


UNESCO Student Mobility Number:

France has 103,161 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.


CIA World Factbook:

30.24% of the French population is under 25 years of age.



In France, the United States is known to be home to some of the world’s best colleges and universities.  As English is the language of business and diplomacy in the European Union, there is always interest in studying in English-speaking countries, such as the United States. Students consider that the experience of studying abroad will benefit them in the future. Moreover

the ability to speak English in a professional setting gives French students a competitive edge in the employment market. During the 2020/2021 academic year, 5,643 French students pursued academic study at U.S. colleges and universities, contributing $284 million to the U.S. economy.

France is the 24th leading country of origin for students coming to the United States (-33.4% from last year) and the sixth leading host country for U.S. students studying abroad (-53.8%). For French students studying English overseas, the U.S. is the third-most popular destination (behind Canada and the United Kingdom). The United States and France expressed their support for the Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative, which promotes increased student and junior researcher mobility and exchanges. This initiative aims to double the number of U.S. students going to France and the number of French students coming to the United States by 2025, and it is endorsed by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, the Institute of International Education, and NAFSA, the Association of International Educators.


The Impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted international student mobility, with successive lockdowns, difficulty in travel, and closed borders. Brexit also had an impact on mobility in Europe. Despite this challenging context, France saw only a moderate decline in international students. On June 17, 2021, all travel from the United States into France was once again permitted. The French Minister of Higher Education announced that in the Fall of 2021, 100% of classes would be held in-person.

International students who reside in countries affected by pandemic-related travel bans such as France were able to enter the U.S. under NIE (national interest exceptions) by the U.S. Department of State. Consular posts overseas have processed nonimmigrant visa applications prioritizing students.

Distance learning—counted by Open Doors for the first time this year—has allowed many international students enrolled at U.S. institutions to continue their studies despite the crisis. The number of French students enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program in the U.S., for example, decreased by only 16.7% from the previous year.



Academic Level: There are 5,643 French students studying in the U.S., which accounts for 0.6% of the total number of international students in the United States. In 2020/21, the breakdown was as follows: 39% undergraduate students, 33.7% graduate students and 20.2% OPT (Optional Practical Training).

Fields of Study: In 2020/21, the preferred fields of study for French students in the United States were: Business/Management (23.7%), Engineering (15.3%), Math/computer science (10.5%) and Social Sciences (10.4%). Only .3% studied intensive English.

Community Colleges: These institutions are an important financial option for French students looking for a U.S. education at a more affordable price. French high school students show a growing interest in community colleges as they are accessible and offer the opportunity to transfer to a university after a couple of years.

Research and Development: Optional Practical Training has contributed to a rise in the overall number of international students in the U.S. because it allows students in science and engineering fields to stay in the country and work for 36 months. This has made studying in America more desirable – particularly for STEM majors.



American educational institutions can take advantage of the importance placed on English language abilities, as well as the current state of the French labor market.

According to a survey conducted by IIE, many French students find the cost of studying in the United States to be a major obstacle.  Approximately 87% of them believe that tuition fees at U.S. institutions of higher education are very high, particularly in comparison to the low-cost French educational system (for public universities) or ERASMUS programs (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) in other European countries.  Therefore, in crafting a recruitment strategy, U.S. institutions should consider that studying in the United States represents an important investment. The high comparative cost of a U.S. education explains why more than half of the French students studying in the United States are also scholarship recipients. However, when compared to other potential study destinations, most prospective students from France perceive the United States to have a superior education system (81%).



American institutions may benefit from the social media opportunities:

  • The most popular online platforms that French students use are mostly social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat are also popular.
  • The most popular social media site is YouTube, and Instagram is becoming more and more popular for students less than 25 years old. TikTok is also used, primarily by high school students.
  • Students often research information on any given topic through Google and YouTube.
  • The platforms that students use for job opportunities include LinkedIn and Indeed.
  • The most popular video streaming service in France is YouTube.
  • In-country schools and competitor countries use informational events at universities or schools as well as Instagram and YouTube (with less and less use of Facebook and Twitter).
  • Parents and students mainly receive information about educational opportunities through the local CIO (information and orientation center) but also from the fairs organized by L’Etudiant and Studyrama, the two main student organizations in France.
  • It is recommended for U.S. study state consortia and/or educational institutions to get in contact with the EducationUSA advising center in Paris.






Isabelle Singletary, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Paris, France

Phone: +33 (0)1 43 12 70 63