The École NormaleSupérieure is a French grandeécole, which do not belong to the official university system. Founded in 1794, in the time of the French Revolution, the institution aimed to train professionals from different backgrounds and social classes who would be suited to engage in ideological debates and building of the New Republic.
Located in the heart of Paris, the ENS is a leading higher education institution in France and is well respected internationally. It has a strong reputation for excellent training through research. This institution aims to train students and encourages research.
The university campus offers a friendly and culturally diverse environment for both French and international students from different backgrounds and operates across 14 departments and 35 laboratories.
ENS has close connections with its partner institutions which has also aided in its research programs – the ScuolaNormaleSuperiorein Pisa and other reputable universities like University of Oxford, Yale University and Freie Universität Berlin.The ENS’s notable alumni include Noble Laureates Henri Bergson and Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, scientist Louis Pasteur, philosopher Louis Althusser, Marie-Louise Dubreil-Jacotin,Assia Djebar, Simone Weil and Barbara Dalibard amongst others.
The ENS’s position varies in different university rankings, but it is generally between the first and third best institution in France. Other rankings based on multiple indicators such as major disciplinary fields may rank the ENS differently.
The Centre for World University Rankings based on analyses of publications and reputation investigations in the opinion of peers ranked the ENS 39th in the world and 2nd in France (2016).
According to the QS University rankings of 2016, ENS is 33 in the world and 1st in France.
The Academic Ranking of World-Class Universities (ARWU) in 2016 ranked ENS 87th in the world and 3rd French position in the global ranking; 8th world position and 1st in France for the alumni indicator; 5th in the world and 1st in France for the per capita performance indicator.
The 2016 Times for Higher Education (THE) ranking has ENS in the 66th world position and 1st in France.
The Global Employability University Ranking in 2015 put the ENS as number 1 in France in the opinion of recruiters.
The ENS is known for its extremely competitive admission process, students who apply to this institution must be academically sound. Students are incorporated in the 3rd year of bachelor or 1st year of master.
Most students – undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral, are required to take an entrance exam and attend an interview with the university faculty coupled with proficiency in French test. The exam set by the International Selection committee is for young graduates with spectacular results in Arts and Humanities as well as Sciences, who must have undergone at least a year of study in a foreign university.
The admission process goes through three different types of competitive exams
- the élèves normaliens have the standing of trainee civil servants and candidates must have done a 2 or 3 years course in the preliminary classes to the elite schools.
- the normaliens étudiants, French or foreigners, admitted through the competitive examination for students or through International selection.
The International Selection gives access to excellent training through the tutelage of outstanding researchers in a friendly environment. The examination is in two phases – selection based on application and oral/written tests in Paris for shortlisted candidates.
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International Selection Criteria
- Prospective students must not have applied to the International Selection before.
- Prospective students must not be more than 26 years.
- Prospective students must not have stayed in France more than 10 months during the academic year of selection nor the previous year.
- Prospective students must have proof of at least one year undergraduate studies in a foreign university during the calendar year before the start of applications.
- Prospective students must have proof of at least two years of undergraduate studies in a foreign university on September 1st following the admission.
On some rare occasions, applications from candidates with a not-too-strong academic background may be authorised.
The ENS research center in partnership with other universities have established a lot of masters programs on a wide range of topics. The ENS master’s programs are two-year programs (M1, M2) with duration of courses and high level seminars and research in France or/and abroad. The programs are majorly sorted by options and organized according to combined skills. Apart from research programs, ENS also offer programs in Letters that gear up for “agrégation” during the program’s second year. Students in masters programs are either selected by the master’s program jury or ENS students preparing for their diploma.
Departments in ENS
- Department of Economics
- Department of History and Theory of Arts
- Department of Geography
- Department of Philosophy
- Department of Social Sciences
- Department of Antiquity
- Department of Literature and Languages
- Department of Cognitive Studies
- Computer Science department
- Department of Biology
- Department of Chemistry
- Department of Geosciences
- Department of Mathematics and Applications
- Department of Physics
PhD programs at ENS are closely linked to research. About 700 PhD students from ENS or other institutions can use the ENS laboratories. 80 percent of ENS students usually pursue a PhD in France or internationally and work done is vital to the scientific progress of the ENS laboratories. The PhD program last for three years with a public defense of the PhD dissertation which can academic or related to economic matters. PhD students can receive grants and funding from research agreements with partner institutions, private funds and company investments. Students can also be selected under reviewed conditions for complementary paid missions – teaching, expertise etc.
Intellectual freedom, interesting campus life, individual attention to students and exceptional tutors in humanities and sciences – these are ENS’s specificities. ENs prepares its student to be leaders and to be capable of handling the highest responsibilities in all levels.