Long programs are offered in universities, grandes écoles, and specialized schools. How they are organized depends on the institution in which they are offered.

At the universities

Studies are organized into three basic levels:

  • Licence: 3 years of study corresponding to 6 semesters and 180 ECTS credits.
  • Master: 5 years of study, 4 semestres supplémentaires validés par l'obtention de 120 crédits ECTS.

At the master's level, two paths are possible. Students who choose a "research" master (formerly known as the DEA) typically intend to go on to earn a doctorate, whereas those who elect a "professional" master (formerly DESS) want to begin their careers directly after graduation.

Provided they have sufficient undergraduate experience, international students can enroll directly in a master's program for one or two years of specialized education.

In the grandes écoles and specialized schools

Long programs in the grandes écoles represent 5 years of postsecondary study, starting with 2 years of preparation within the grande école or in a preparatory class at a secondary school. 

Preparatory classes for the grandes écoles, also known as CPGE or prépa, are demanding programs that enable graduates to sit for entrance exams for 3-year programs at one or more grandes écoles.

Upon the successful completion of a total of 5 years of postsecondary study, graduates are awarded their school's diploma, which is formally equivalent to a master's degree. 

Graduates of private specialized schools receive a diploma that is specific to their school. That diploma may or may not be recognized as the equivalent of a master.