understand the candidate selection criteria

Law is one of the most coveted subjects for students. But in masters, there are not places for everyone. Between the end of March and the end of May, the selection campaigns to integrate a master’s degree in law at the start of the 2022 academic year are in full swing in the universities. Since the adoption of the ORE law, which came into force between the 2017 and 2019 academic years in law faculties, students at the end of their license no longer have automatic access to a Master 1; the selection now takes place at this level and no longer at the entrance to master 2.

The selectivity of the masters in law varies according to the mentions, the courses, the universities. At Paris-I-Panthéon-Sorbonne, the private law master’s degree, one of the most in demand in France, received, for the start of the 2021 academic year, 3,200 applications for 95 places. At the University of Bordeaux, the eight master’s degrees relating to business law and the five master’s degrees in criminal law and criminal sciences received, between them, around 8,000 applications at the last start of the school year, for respectively 198 and 115 places in these two areas. Conversely, other masters are less selective, “like the history of the law of institutions”explains Jean-Christophe Saint-Pau, Dean of the Faculty of Law of Bordeaux.

On what criteria is the selection of candidates based? We interviewed heads of masters and deans of law schools on this subject. At the end of the procedure, students who have validated their bachelor’s degree but who have not been accepted in any master’s can initiate a procedure with the rectorate, in the name of the right to continue studies, provided for in the law. The rectorate is then required to provide the student with three proposals, in connection with his course. In case of dissatisfaction, various legal remedies are also possible.

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1 – The notes, pivot of the selection

The marks, in particular the averages of the three years of law degree, are at the heart of the selection in master. At Paris-II-Panthéon-Assas, officially, no minimum mark is imposed. “But in the most selective masters – tax law, business law or public economic law – if you come from a regional university without having an average of 14 or 15, admission will not be impossible, but complicated », recognizes Stéphane Braconnier, president of this university.

The requirements in the most popular masters – often business law or criminal law and criminal sciences – in Bordeaux, Paris-I-Panthéon-Sorbonne or Montpellier, are more or less the same: difficult to integrate courses with strong pressure less than 13 on average. In Bordeaux, for the most selective courses, candidates with “good” or “very good” mentions throughout their license have a good chance of being integrated straight away. Those who are slightly below must pass an interview. “For those who have averages between 12 and 14, we take into account the results in the significant subjects in connection with the mention concerned”says Mr. Saint-Pau.

However, the deans and master’s directors unanimously remind us that each file is judged as a whole. In all universities, some less coveted master’s degrees are accessible to students with lower averages. “There are plenty of master’s students who have an average of 10 or 11”assures Guylain Clamour, dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science of Montpellier.

2 – A coherent course

Reorientations or repetitions are not perceived as redhibitory elements. “We have the right to miss, to reorient ourselves. If the person who repeated the grade succeeded in obtaining good results afterwards, that is what I remember”confirms Mr. Saint-Pau.

Farhad Ameli, deputy director of the Sorbonne law school, nevertheless advises, in the event of repetition, to explain the reasons in the cover letter attached to the application file. Especially when health problems may have arisen. It should be noted that after the second repetition, some masters course managers refrain from selecting candidates.

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3 – Professional experience: always a “plus”

Of course, having done an internship directly related to the targeted training is recommended. But for Mr. Clamour, this is never a real selection criterion. “Some students do not have access to internships due to a lack of network. There is a certain social determinism. It cannot be a blocking element. »

Professional experience (summer jobs, student jobs), even unrelated to the requested master’s degree, is always a plus. They demonstrate, according to the officials we interviewed, the deserving character of the candidate. Also, the scholarship status is sometimes taken into account to ensure that a certain social diversity is maintained, which tends to decrease as the student progresses.

4 – Mobility abroad, an asset but not a must

Experiences abroad and university exchanges are a way to stand out among candidates. Many students wonder about the relevance of going abroad during their 3rd year law degree. Jean-Christophe Saint-Pau, from the University of Bordeaux, distinguishes between two situations. The first, that of students who have records with average grades. For them, he believes that mobility in license 3 can be “disabling” : it would be better if they focused on improving their grades for their last year of bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, if the student already has very good academic results, “14 average for example”mobility can be a ” advantage ” in his file.

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5 – Commitment to associations, increasingly valued

Commitment within associations, which demonstrates an aptitude for personal and collective investment, is a criterion that is gaining momentum in the examination of applications, and which is highly appreciated by the managers in charge of selection. . They see it as a way to recruit committed students who want to take action and who develop a point of view on the world. “For a few years we have realized that we have been receiving very good files, but sometimes with people who are too academic, too neutral”, explains Mr. Saint-Pau.

6 – “House” candidates sometimes better considered

“We have a slightly more benevolent eye on students who come from our own university”slips Stéphane Braconnier, before adding, “we have a better knowledge of it”. At Paris-I, 60% to 70% of students admitted to a master’s degree obtained their license at the same place, as confirmed by Farhad Ameli. This same ” law “ also applies in other faculties, such as that of Bordeaux. Other universities are neutral on this point. “The home university of master’s candidates is not taken into account”specifies Nicolas Chifflot, vice-dean of the Faculty of Law of Strasbourg.

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