For many high school students in France who have a passion for Political Science, getting into Sciences Po Paris is the Holy Grail. However, once again this year, many disappointed students have not received an offer despite excellent applications and serious preparation. The same goes for the provincial IEPs.
With the end of the written exam and the entry procedure now being carried out via Parcoursup, the number of applications has soared this year and the selection method has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many unfortunate ‘very good’ candidates who were not even invited to take the oral exam.
Faced with the complexity of accessing this ultra-selective course, more and more high school students in France are choosing to also apply to similar courses at internationally renowned universities in the United Kingdom, Europe or Canada. This allows them to wait more calmly for the admission results to Sciences Po.
Why choose to study Political Science abroad? What are the advantages of these international Bachelor’s degrees?
Their large multicultural dimension
Studying Political Science in a multicultural environment with teachers and students of different nationalities and cultures is obviously very enriching, especially if the student is hoping for an international career. It is also an opportunity to start building a wide ranging professional network.
A strong impact on the student’s personal development
By studying abroad, students leave their comfort zone, develop their ability to adapt and acquire ease in their exchanges with students from different cultures, which will undoubtedly help them in their future professional careers.
The choice of a tailor-made course
Many universities, particularly in the UK, offer a wide range of courses in Politics and International Relations with different perspectives and pathways. This means that everyone can find the course that suits their expectations and ambitions. Moreover, with the options available, students can define their own course of study and try out topics that interest them before maybe specialising in one of them for a Master’s degree later : sustainable development, international security, law, business, etc.
And why not take a second degree to boost their profile ?
After their Bachelor’s degree, students can complete their studies with a specialised Master’s degree abroad or in France, and why not, if they still want to, apply for a Master’s degree at ScPo.
With an international Bachelor’s degree, the student can also apply for a Grande Ecole Program in France via the international parallel admissions route and thus complete their studies before entering the business world.
But, among all the possible destinations, how do you choose? What are the criteria to be taken into account?
The international reputation of the course
The prestige of the university and its position in the various rankings are particularly important criteria if the student wishes to later aim for a Master’s degree in a Grande Ecole (HEC, ESSEC, ESCP, etc.) or in a reputable university in France or abroad.
The interest of the course in relation to the student’s career plan
It is really important to compare the content of the courses offered by the various universities to determine which ones correspond most closely to the student’s interests: three-year or four-year programme with a year’s work experience or in a partner university in another country, the choice of optional modules, the examination methods, etc.
The studying and living costs
Before embarking on the application process, it is important to appreciate the overall cost of study.
The United Kingdom, which still remains one of the top destinations with the United States in terms of the quality of its courses and its international reputation, now applies the international fee rate to French students who do not hold a UK passport, which can be a hindrance for some. For example, it is necessary to count between £20,000 and £23,000/year for a course in International Relations at the universities of UCL, King’s College London or Bristol. However it is important to remember that UK passport holders living in Europe still qualify for home fee status (£9,250/year) for all courses up to and including 2028 entry.
The Netherlands, which has historically attracted many French students, has become even more popular since Brexit because it also offers very good courses such as the Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Organisation in Leiden, for a relatively low annual tuition fee for European residents.
One last point. Be careful to check in advance the requirements for each course. These may differ from those required for equivalent courses in France (see our article on choosing specialities for the French Baccalauréat). For example, to apply for the International Relations and Organisations program in Leiden in the Netherlands, it is recommended to have taken Maths up to Terminale, either with the speciality or with the option of complementary Maths.
Once you have decided, how do you get started ?
It is important to understand in advance how each application process for the different universities works. These procedures differ from country to country and from university to university:
- going through an application platform as in the United Kingdom or the Netherlands, or applying directly to the university as in Canada
- taking into account transcripts from the Première/ Grade 11 and Terminale/ Grade 12 or predicted grades given by the school
- need for letters of recommendation,
- writing an application letter/personal statement, or essays…
It is advisable to start to think about the choice of universities and courses at the end of the Première/ Grade 11 in order to narrow the selection before the start of the final school year. During the summer holidays, the student can also carry out any internships or other extra-curricular activities that may help to reassure them on their choice of studies and possibly strengthen their application. In addition, if necessary, they can take the language tests required by the universities and start their final year with less on their to-do list.
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