Universities in Lyon, France

Picture of a large grey building with many red roofed smaller buildings in the background

La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière is a basilica (an early form of church and place of public assembly) located in Lyon.

Lyon is a city with over 1.5 million urban residents, and is located in south-eastern France. Lyon played an important role in France’s political and cultural history, and has been a major economic centre for multiple industries including biotech, banking, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Recently, the city has also become a start-up hub with a growing video game & software industry.

With over 200,000 enrolled students, Lyon is France’s second-largest student city and offers a youthful and multicultural environment for international travellers and students. Additionally, Lyon provides well-connected public transport options alongside excellent public safety and infrastructure levels.

Top Universities in Lyon

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ENS de Lyon)

École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is a research-focused university founded in 1880 which is committed to developing future leaders. ENS Lyon offers world-leading courses in a variety of disciplines including medical technology, computer sciences and geography. The university is home to about 2,300 students including nearly 250 international admits.

ENS Lyon’s main campus is a short walk from the city centre and the university operates 13 advanced research facilities as well as 21 joint research units in partnership with Lyon’s other top-ranked universities. The university offers a number of master’s courses, as well as a small selection of undergraduate programmes taught entirely in English.

Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA)

Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon was founded in 1957 as a specialist engineering institute and is a member of INSA, the largest organisation for engineering faculties in France. INSA Lyon offers courses taught in French, English and German.

The university is home to nearly 6,350 students including about 2,000 international students. INSA Lyon operates 22 research laboratories across disciplines, and also provides international students with the option to spend a semester at the top-ranked Jiao Tong University de Shanghai in China, where you can continue world-class research while exploring a new culture.

INSA Lyon is affiliated to the University of Lyon organisation, the second largest university organisation in the nation. INSA Lyon operates over 1,000 industrial contracts to conduct joint research with large-scale companies and employers in multiple industries. INSA Lyon is primarily located on the large-scale LyonTech campus in the city, which is also home to plenty of digital-focused companies and software developers.

Claude Bernard University Lyon 1

Claude Bernard University Lyon 1 specialises in degree programmes regarding science and technology, health and sport. Located mainly on an urban campus in Lyon, the university was founded in 1971.

Today, Lyon 1 operates more than 450 active agreements with 260 partner universities offering student exchange programmes all over the world. These include the CREPUQ and the ORA, organisations that offer exchange programmes with universities in Quebec and Ontario in Canada respectively. Additionally, the university is well-known for its advanced scientific research and operates multiple world-class research facilities such as the International Centre for Infectiology Research, a key institute in developing the recent Ebola vaccine.

The university is home to about 38,000 enrolled students, including nearly 3,500 international students.  The university offers a number of degree programmes in English, mainly at the master’s level such as degrees in Chemistry and Nanoscale Engineering.

Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3

Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (also known as Lyon 3)offers a wide selection of courses in the humanities and social sciences. The university is home to nearly 30,000 enrolled students, including about 6,000 international admits. The university focuses on advancing world-class research on international political trends and theories, and participates in multiple research projects at national and pan-European level.

Lyon 3 has also partnered with several of the world’s best universities for joint research projects; these include Sao Paulo University, Shanghai University, University of Turin and the University of California. The university ranks in the Times Higher Education Group’s top 200 worldwide for faculty quality, a key factor contributing to excellent academic growth for international students. Additionally, Jean Moulin ranks in the top 500 worldwide for its social science degree programmes.

Université Lumière Lyon 2

Founded in 1973, Université Lumière Lyon 2 provides degree programmes in language, literature and the social sciences for over 25,000 enrolled students including nearly 4,000 international admits. The university operates as many as 40 social scientific research laboratories, and is especially well-known for its postgraduate courses in law, economics and management.

Lyon 2 has agreements with over 350 international institutions for exchange and research, and places special focus on interdisciplinary research between scientific and humanities-oriented disciplines for its students. The university offers award-winning faculty and is also well-ranked for the quality of its courses in psychology and international relations.

Lyon Universities World Ranking 2022

Below are the top-ranked Lyon universities for international students, with their ranks in two of the world’s most well-respected international university rankings, the QS 2022 University World rankings and the Times Higher Education 2022 Rankings.

For more information about rankings systems and methodologies see our University rankings explained guide.

UniversityQS World Ranking 2022Times Higher Education Ranking 2022QS Rank in FranceTHE Rank in France
École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ENS de Lyon)130301-35059
Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA)531-540601-8001526
Claude Bernard University Lyon 1651-700401-5001713
Université Jean Moulin Lyon 31,001-1,2001,201+2536
Université Lumière Lyon 21,001-1,2001,201+2637

List of other top-ranked Colleges & Universities in Lyon

In addition to the five best Lyon universities for international students, the city also offers plenty of top-ranked institutes providing degrees and vocational training in a variety of fields such as business and engineering. Here are a few of the top-ranked institutes in and around Lyon for international students:

Tuition and Living Costs in Lyon

Tuition fees for international non-EEA students at public French universities are about 2,770 US Dollars per year for undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and about 400 US Dollars per annum for doctoral courses. At private French universities, tuition costs can range between 3,000 to 20,000 US Dollars per annum. The French Government’s online “CampusBourses” portal allows you to identify all relevant scholarships for international students, and is a helpful resource to explore.

As for living expenses in Lyon, University de Lyon estimates that international students should budget between 850-1,000 US Dollars per month. This budget includes 400-550 US Dollars for shared accommodation, 300 US Dollars for food expenses, 60-80 US Dollars for public transport and another 80-100 US Dollars for utilities and miscellaneous expenses.

French student visa rules allow international students to work up to 964 hours alongside their academic degrees every year, and many international students secure internships and part-time employment in institutes and places across Lyon in order to offset tuition and living expenses.

Life in Lyon for International Students

In addition to its rapidly-growing economy and employment opportunities, life in Lyon for international students offers the chance to enjoy the best of French culture while living in a vibrant and centrally-located city.

You can make frequent road trips to tourist-favourite European cities such as Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam from Lyon, as they are all just a few hours away by road. Moreover, the iconic French Riviera in the south is also just a short drive away, and offers an endless list of charming beaches and holiday destinations.

As for Lyon itself, the city is filled with landmarks and cultural sights which showcase French architecture and history. The Old City area of Lyon, for example, is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. The large number of parks and outdoor spaces dotted across Lyon are a further way for you to take your mind off of academics, and Lyon is also well-known for its world-class restaurants.

Below are a few of Lyon’s must-visit sights for international students:

  • Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
  • Musée des Confluences
  • Parc de la Tête d’or
  • Lyon Cathedral
  • Ancient Theatre of Fourvière
  • Musée Cinéma et Miniature
  • Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon
  • Lyon Zoo
  • Lyon Botanical Garden
  • Grand Parc Miribel Jonage
  • Place Bellecour 
  • Musée de l’automobile Henri Malartre
  • Guignol Theatre Museum

International students can travel from their home countries to Lyon’s Saint Exupéry Airport via major European hubs including Paris, London and Rome. In addition to the city’s top-ranked universities, its growing economy, and its increasing number of large-scale employers, the affordable tuition costs at public French universities make Lyon a growing favourite among international students.

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