What are the various qualifications awarded by French business schools?

29 Jun 2022


BTS, BCH, BBA, PGE, MSc, MBA, DBA… These various abbreviations stand for the names of different diploma courses on offer at the forty or so business schools that are members of the CGE (Conférence des grandes écoles – a French association of higher education and research institutions). Let’s take a look at the main features of each of these programmes.

Post-secondary business school diplomas awarded for the completion of two to four-year courses

Today, more and more ESCs (Écoles Supérieures de Commerce – university-level business schools) offer two, three and even four-year programmes that can be accessed directly following the French baccalaureate. They enable youngbaccalaureate holders to begin their studies with a relatively short programme leading to a professional qualification.

The Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS)

The Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS) is a French state-approved diploma awarded following two years of study at a secondary school or a private higher education establishment. There are more than 150 BTS specialities in France, but, generally speaking,post-secondary education establishments focus on the fields of communication, international trade, business management, property and operational commercial management.


Bachelor’s degree

Today, you will find three-year Bachelor’s courses in the educational offering of most French business schools. Like BTS courses, Bachelor’s degree courses are specialised (in fields such as digital communication and marketing, international trade, luxury management, finance and accounting). You should note that these courses are not all equally recognised by the French government. Some Bachelor’s degrees are approved by the French Ministry of Higher Education, while others are simply listed in the RNCP (Répertoire National des Certifications Professionnelles – national register of professional certifications), which is another guarantee of quality.


Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA)

With a more general approach, but a much more international outlook, the BBA is an English-speaking course lasting three years, and four years in the case of a Global BBA. Classes are sometimes all taught in English, as is the case at IPAG Business School, and there are more options available for overseas study periods, overseas internships and double degrees than with a “standard” Bachelor’s degree. This programme is therefore suitable for students who have a career plan with an international focus.

Master’s level diplomas at French business schools

We will now look at the various postgraduate diplomas on offer at business schools in France, including the Master's degree, MBA, MSc and PGE.

Grande École Programme

Among the leading qualifications offered in French business and management schools, the Grande École Programme (PGE) is a course that leads to a state-approved Master’s-level diploma, awarded by the most prestigious schools. This type of course can be taken at a business school directly following secondary studies or after the prépa (preparatory classes for entrance to the Grandes Écoles). The admissions procedure is specific to each school. For example, to enter the Grande École Programme at IPAG, students need to take the SESAME entrance exam (for admission in the first year) or the Ambitions+ entrance exam (parallel admissions in the third or fourth year following a Bachelor’s degree). All of these programmes, or nearly all, give students the opportunity to specialise, obtain double degrees, build professional experience and leave for a period of study overseas.

Master in Business Administration (MBA)


A Masters-level diplomain business administration, the MBA is for students aiming to hold high-level managerial positions in an international environment. Lasting 12 to 14 months, depending on the school, MBAs are postgraduate courses accessible following three or four years of higher education, or several years’ experience.Elite business schools generally offer several specialisations for their MBA:  International Business Development, Finance and Investments, Luxury Brand Management, etc.


Executive MBA

This Master’s-level diploma is for executive managers with 10 to 15 years of experience and who are looking to update their knowledge and further develop their managerial skills. Organised on a part-time basis, over a period of 24 months at most, Executive MBAs are excellent springboards for learners; their reputation is linked to that of the school and its , and how widely the qualification is recognised.


Master of Science (MSc)

Accessible following three or four years of higher education, MSc courses are listed on the RNCP (Registre National des Certifications Professionnelles), making it possible to earn a specialised Master’s-level diploma. This type of programme can be taken at a university-level business school or engineering school. There are dozens of specialisations available, mainly focussed on a limited subject area: Sports Management, UX Design, Data Management, etc. Take care not to confuse an MSc and a Mastère Spécialisé (MS – specialised Master’s), which is shorter and much less well-known internationally, particularly in the English-speaking world. At an establishment like IPAG, MSc courses can be followed remotely.


Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA)

This unusual diploma is halfway between an MBA and a PhD. It is for professionals with extensive experience in corporate environments. It enables them to carry out in-depth research (dissertation, thesis, doctoral project, etc.) in parallel with their job. While the scientific contribution of a DBA holder may not be as significant as that of a PhD holder, their research does lead to the publication of cases and articles in specialist reviews. The length of a DBA course is around three years, including methodology classes and field studies, as well as the writing and defence of a final dissertation.

Further information:

The Doctorate in Business Administration at IPAG