École Normale Supérieure

École normale supérieure

École Normale Supérieure Details

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A Prestigious Institution of Higher Education and Research

The École normale supérieure (ENS) is an elite higher education institution (graduate school) for advanced undergraduate and graduate studies, and a prestigious French research center. It encompasses fifteen teaching and research departments, spanning the main humanities, sciences and disciplines. Unique among France’s grandes écoles for its training in the humanities and sciences, the ENS prepares its students for their role as future leaders in every imaginable professional field: in research, media, public service and private industry.


Admissions, Academic Programs and Students

The École normale supérieure has a highly competitive recruitment process. For most international students, this includes a selection by written application, usually presented during the last year of undergraduate study, and which highlights the candidate’s intellectual promise, creativity and desire to complete an original and independent project.
In addition to a master’s and doctoral degree, students are awarded an ENS Diploma, which attests to the excellence of the intellectual and scientific training received at the ENS.
Campus life is a distinctive feature of the École normale supérieure. Students not only study there, but also live in campus residences, primarily located in the heart of the historic and vibrant Quartier Latin with easy access to the ENS libraries, restaurants, and leisure facilities.

An Unparalleled French Research Center

The ENS is at once a grande école, due to its selective recruitment process, and a research university. As a central actor in the training of French elites for more than two centuries, it has nourished the majority of the great intellectual movements of the 20th century and has considerably widened the scope of French scientific influence. The impressive achievements made possible through the training it dispenses, distinguish the École normale supérieure from all other French establishments of higher learning. Former students include all eight French winners of the Fields Medal, thirteen Nobel Prize winners and half of the recipients the CNRS Gold Medal.
The success of ENS alumni results from the quality of its research-based training, which includes individual tutorials and personalized attention for the full four years of study. This “training-by-research” model is the hallmark of the École normale supérieure. It is the best preparation for innovation and creativity.



The École normale supérieure was created in Paris in 1794, during the French Revolution, to train the nation’s future teachers according to the critical and secular spirit of the new Republic. In 1847, the École normale supérieure moved to its current location on rue d’Ulm, on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève near the Sorbonne and the Collège de France.

Early on, the École normale supérieure became home to elite research. In the mid-19th century, Louis Pasteur carried out his pioneering work within its walls. For decades, the ENS has been the most prestigious site of French intellectual and scientific life. It participated in all the great intellectual debates of modern France, from the Dreyfus Affair to the movements of the 1930s, and from the foundation of the human sciences to the avant-garde movements of the 1970s. It educated entire generations of high-ranking civil servants and politicians, scientists and entrepreneurs, and provided intellectual training for Nobel laureates, Fields Medal winners and intellectual luminaries like Sartre, Foucault, Lacan and Derrida.

Not content to rest on its laurels, the ENS continues its fundamental mission of training its students to the role of leaders capable of bringing their creative vision and innovative solutions to bear on the increasingly complex and global issues of today’s world. It does this through its dedication to assembling the world’s most distinguished experts to teach its students to conduct pioneering research that transcends the traditional disciplinary boundaries.


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