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Short-cycle higher education


7.2.First-cycle programmes

7.2.2Short-cycle higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Branches of Study

These two-year courses are mainly in the industrial, service and paramedical sectors. The two main types of training are at ISCED 5 level (level 5 of the National Framework of Vocational Qualifications).

Brevet de technicien supérieur (BTS)

Prepared in the sections de techniciens supérieurs (STS) which are mostly located in high schools. There are 119 BTS specialities available. The specialities of the BTS are divided into fields and aim at a wide range of professional sectors. These specialities are divided into two main areas: production (car mechanics, metallurgy, hides and skins, etc.) and services (journalism and communication, health, commerce and sales, etc.). Successful completion of the BTS examination leads to the award of 120 ECTS credits.

Diplôme universitaire de technologie (DUT)

Prepared in two years in the University Institutes of Technology (IUT). At the start of the academic year 2022, the DUT has been replaced by the university bachelor of technology (BUT), which is a three-year professional licence with a technological focus. The DUT is, however, maintained as an intermediate diploma of the BUT, and will disappear, and will therefore not be detailed in this page.

Admission Requirements

A single procedure allows all pupils in the second cycle of secondary education or students seeking a change of direction to register for the first year of higher education. This national pre-registration procedure for initial training in the first cycle of higher education, known as Parcoursup, is dematerialised and is placed under the responsibility of the Minister for Higher Education.

According to Article L612-3 of the Education Code, the first cycle is open to all holders of the baccalaureate and to those who have obtained the equivalence or exemption from this degree by proving a qualification or experience deemed sufficient.

According to the same article, a selection of candidates may be made for access to :

  • University institutes of technology;
  • Higher education courses offered in secondary schools
  • Courses leading to scientific and technical university degrees (DEUST).

Article 612-31 of the same code specifies that admission to a section of higher technicians in public education is organised under the authority of the rector of the academic region, who defines, with the heads of the host institutions, the conditions for setting up and carrying out the admission procedure. The admission of a candidate is decided by the head of the host institution, after an admissions committee, mainly made up of teachers of the section requested, has assessed the application of each candidate.

Priority is given to technological and vocational high school students in the short courses:

  • In BTS, a number of places are prioritised for professional baccalaureates.
  • In DUT/BUT, a number of places are prioritised for technological baccalaureates with a target of 50% per institution.

Finally, it should be noted that admission to the BTS preparation course is automatic for candidates (whether students or apprentices) who have obtained a 'very good' or 'good' grade in the vocational or technological baccalauréat whose professional field corresponds to that of the higher technician section applied for.


For the BTS, the programmes are defined nationally by decree for each speciality (example of a programme defined in the annex to the order of 19 February 2018 defining and setting the conditions for the award of the 'SME Management' higher technician's certificate).

Teaching Methods

For the BTS, the teaching methods and expectations are also defined nationally in the decrees defining and setting the conditions of issue for each speciality. According to article L643-5 of the Education Code, the BTS can be prepared

  • By the school route, in high schools as well as in private technical schools;
  • By the apprenticeship route defined in Book II of the sixth part of the Labour Code;
  • Through continuing vocational training.

The higher technician's certificate can also be prepared by distance learning institutions under the conditions set by order of the minister responsible for higher education.

Progression of Students

According to Article L643-6 of the Education Code, the training provided for the preparation of the BTS through the school system is organised in a two-year study cycle. The head of the school decides whether students should move on to the second year after consulting the class council.


The training leading to the higher technician's certificate includes training periods organised under the responsibility of the training institutions. The procedures for organising the training and the work placements are specified by order of the minister responsible for higher education. According to Article D643-25 of the Education Code, the specific regulations for each speciality of higher technician's certificate specify, among other things, the duration of the training periods required to sit the examination.

Students Assessment

The BTS is awarded on the basis of the results obtained in an examination certifying the acquisition by the candidate of the skills, competences and knowledge and know-how constituting the units provided for in the assessment reference system of each speciality of the diploma and after passing the certification in English. This certification is subject to external evaluation and is recognised internationally and by the socio-economic world.

The diploma is awarded to candidates who have obtained an overall average of at least 10 out of 20 in all the assessments with their coefficient. The marks obtained in the optional tests are taken into account only for their part exceeding the mark of 10 out of 20. The additional points are added to the total points obtained in the compulsory tests for the award of the diploma.


According to Article L613-1 of the Education Code, in France, the State has a monopoly on the award of university degrees and titles, and therefore of the Bachelor (and equivalent titles). Degrees awarded by institutions can only be awarded on the basis of the results of the assessment of knowledge and skills by the institutions accredited for this purpose by the minister responsible for higher education, after consulting the National Council for Higher Education and Research (CNESR). A national diploma confers the same rights on all its holders, irrespective of the institution that awarded it.

The content and procedures for the accreditation of institutions are laid down by decree of the minister responsible for higher education, after consulting the CNESR. The content and procedures for accreditation take into account the link between teaching and research within the institution, the quality of teaching, the territorial map of courses, the objectives of professional integration and the links between the teaching teams and the representatives of the professions concerned by the training. An institution is accredited for the duration of the multi-annual contract concluded with the State. Accreditation may, after a national evaluation, be renewed by order of the minister responsible for higher education, following the opinion of the CNESR. The accreditation order of the institution authorises it to award, in compliance with the national training framework, the national degrees listed by order.