Educational Services (EDU)

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

Last published date: 2019-10-13
Total number of students studying abroad: 90,717
CIA World Factbook-Percent of population under 24 years of age: 30.28%
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 growing interest in studying in English-speaking countries, such as the United States. The ability to speak English in a professional setting gives French students a competitive edge in the employment market.  During the 2017/18 academic year, 8,802 French students pursued academic study at U.S. colleges and universities, contributing $361 million to the U.S. economy. Accordingly, with a well-thought-out strategy, U.S. academic institutions have a unique opportunity to attract French students.
The number of French students attending school in the United States rose steadily in the 1990s peaking at 7,401 students in 2001/02. After a three-year decline, the number of French students began to rise again in 2005/06. Since then, the number of French students in the U.S. has maintained a slow, steady increase for 10 years; the growth rate surpassed 5% in 2014/15 for the first time since 2010/11. In the 2017/18 academic year, there was a slight decrease of .1%.

France is the eighteenth leading country of origin for students coming to the United States and the fourth leading host country for U.S. students studying abroad. For French students studying overseas, the U.S. is the second-most popular destination (behind 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 is endorsed by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, the Institute of International Education, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Year# of Students
From France
% Change from
Previous Year
# of U.S. Study Abroad Students Going to France
2016/178,8140.6%16, 462
2014/158,7435.3%18,198 (up 3.4%)
2012/138,2970.8%17,210 (up 0.2) 17
Note: Study abroad figures from Open Doors reflect credit given by U.S. campuses during the survey year to their students who studied abroad in the academic year just completed, including the summer term
Higher Education
There are 8,802 French students studying in the U.S., which comprises .8% of total international students in the United States. The undergraduate level is most common time for French students to go abroad, but other levels are also represented. In 2017/18, the breakdown of education levels was as follows: 33.1% undergraduate students, 26.8% graduate students, 25.1% non-degree students, and 14.9% OPT (Optional Practical Training).
  • Undergraduate: 2,915 students
  • Graduate: 2,363 students
  • Non-degree: 2,210 students
  • OPT: 1,314 students
Fields of Study
In 2017/18: Business/Management 23.2%, Engineering 13.9%, Social Sciences 9.2%, Fine/Applied Arts 7.1%, Math/ Computer Science 5.8%, Humanities 5.6%, Physical/Life Sciences 5.5%, Intensive English 1.4%, Health Professions 1.2%, Education 1.0%, Undeclared 4.1%, Other 22.0%
Community Colleges
Community colleges 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. As of January 2018, the unemployment rate in France is 9% with a 21.7% unemployment rate for those under 25 years old. This has led to a “race for diplomas” among French students. Studying abroad has become a great way for graduates to enhance their resume for future positions. 
According to a survey conducted by the 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 for many French students. 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 also benefit from the following niche opportunities:
Second & Third Tier Cities: Most U.S. colleges and universities focus their recruitment efforts in Paris. Recruitment efforts that include other cities in France in addition to Paris (particularly those with strong universities or a sister city connection) generally yield effective results.
Intensive English Language Programs: Today, English has become an essential tool for French students seeking employment after graduation, a market which could be further developed by U.S. schools.              
Salon Go Study Abroad, 08 December 2018, Paris
AAWE- Council of International Schools – Paris College Days, October 2019
Studyrama International Studies Fair, October 2019, Paris
Fulbright Commission:
U.S. Commercial Service Contact
Isabelle Singletary
Education Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – U.S. Embassy, Paris
Email :
Phone : (+33-1) 43 12 70 63