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Study in Lille, France

Population: 226,900

City Overview

Lille is a northern French city in the Nord-Pas de Calais region, close to the Belgian border. For this reason it has strong Belgian influences – from the cobbled streets of the Old Town to its much visited chocolate shops to its eclectic shopping.

Add to this a thriving modern art scene, and you have a city that is as exciting as it is traditional. If you are looking for a picturesque location in which to study your postgraduate course, Lille would be a good place to start.

Education profile

Estimates say that there are around 160,000 students in the Nord-Pas de Calais region, the majority of them in Lille, spread across the city’s three main universities. They are:
These universities offer a wide range of postgraduate courses, across the academic subjects that they specialise in.

There is also the private Catholic University of Lille, which offers a variety of graduate programs.

Graduate programs in France fall into three main categories:
  • Taught Masters (MAs/MScs/MEng)
  • Research Masters (MRes/ MA by Research)
  • Doctorates and PhDs
Taught Masters are postgraduate courses that follow a similar pattern to undergraduate study, with lectures, seminars and tutorials. You will be expected to research topics yourself and take and independent approach to studying.

Research Masters are often seen as pre-cursor to a PhD. You will research a particular topic independently and focus on improving your research skills to produce a dissertation or final projects.

Masters programs in France generally last between 1-2 years, with PhDs taking up to four years to complete. 

Immigration and visas

If you are looking to study for a postgraduate degree in Lille and are an EU citizen you will be accepted onto a graduate program provided you fulfil the following:
  • Are studying in Lille for more than three months.
  • Are enrolled at an accredited university or institution.
  • Have proof of sufficient funds to cover your graduate program in France for its duration.
  • Have health insurance cover.
Non-EU students will need to apply for an extended-stay student visa, with residency permit (VLS-TS).

When a VLS-TS visa is issued, students will be given an official form that they must present to the French office of immigration and integration (OFII)

A VLS-TS holder must, upon arriving in France, send to the OFII by registered mail (return receipt requested):
  • The official form received from the consulate that issued the visa.
  • A copy of passport pages showing the visa holders identity and the stamp indicating entry into France (or into the Schengen area).
You can find out more about visas at Campus France -

Life in Lille

Lille is an extremely young city in terms of population, and life here is as vibrant, artistic and exciting as would be expected from a region with 110,000 students. The city centre, Rue Solferino and the Wazemmes area, all of which have large numbers of lively bars and restaurants, are popular locations for students in the city to socialise.

Cultural venues such as museums and temporary art exhibitions are plentiful, and many offer a discount for students. The Tripostal gallery is a popular location for exhibitions. There are also two independent cinemas – so if the arts are an interest you could hardly choose a better location than Lille for your postgraduate course.

Volunteering is a large part of the student culture in Lille – whilst you are undertaking your graduate program, why not give your services elsewhere. Volunteering opportunities are registered with the Lille Maison des Associations.

Finally, if you are looking to travel elsewhere in Europe whilst on your graduate program, Lille is only around 20 kilometres from the Belgian border.

Working In Lille

If you are a postgraduate student from inside the EU you are entitled work in Lille provided the institution you are enrolled at provides access to the student social security scheme.

For other foreign students, since 2007 the student residence card has replaced the need to get temporary authorisation to work in France. Foreign students can also work up to 60% of the statutory annual work time, the equivalent of a maximum of 964 hours per year. 

The major industries in Lille include textiles, mechanical, electrical, chemical and pharmalogical engineering, insurance and food production.


There are two main types of accommodation while studying:
  • University accommodation – such as halls of residence
  • Private accommodation – House and flat rentals
The most popular area for students to live in Lille is Vieux-Lille, or Lille Old Town, which is the cultural heart of the city and has a distinctly Belgian feel. 

University accommodation is in very short supply, so most students end up living in private accommodation. The number of private student residences is on the increase, making it easier to find student accommodation in France.

CNOUS CROUS (the student social support service) and is usually reserved for government scholarship holders.

Campus France can help you with problems you might have with student housing in France, such as locating and reserving accommodation except for places in Paris.

Weather and Climate

Lille has a temperate oceanic climate, with cool summers, cold winters and above average rainfall.

What to do next

Are you interested in studying a graduate program in Lille? If so, you should sign up for our Free Application Service. We'll provide you with tailored information, courses to suit you and the option to apply online for the graduate program you want.