FAQ about International selection


Why choose ENS?

École Normale Supérieure (ENS) is a higher education establishment for pre-doctoral and doctoral studies (graduate school) as well as a top-level research centre in France. ENS counts fifteen departments for education and research, spanning the main disciplines in humanities and sciences. It is the 1st French institution in many rankings.

ENS Paris is situated in the very heart of Paris, in the “Quartier Latin”, which has been known for centuries for its rich intellectual and cultural activity. It is a wonderful place to live and learn.

What are the eligibility criteria?

•    Apply before your 26th birthday,
•    Apply to ENS International selection for the first time,
•    Having not lived in France more than 10 months during the year of the application and the year before.
•    Justify you have validated at least one year of undergraduate studies in the year before the application
•    Justify you have validated at least two years of undergraduate studies in a foreign university (outside France), on September 1st, after the final jury.

As an exception, the Director of ENS could authorize the application of a candidate whose academic background outside France is not standard.


Where and when does the International selection take place?

The schedules are published on https://www.ens.psl.eu/en/academics/admissions/international-selection


What are the documents required for the application?

•    passport or National ID card
•    high school diploma
•    university transcript
•    letter of motivation ( 1 to 3 pages long, text of 12-point text in Times New Roman, 1.5 line spacing)
•    In Arts&Humanities, your study project and possibly your research ( 1 to 3 pages long, see explanations below), including a bibliography (see more details below)
•    CV
•    2 to 4 reference letters sent by your referess. A template is available on our Website, but we accept all formats of letters of recommendation.

If incomplete, the application will not be examined.


Do you accept recommendation letters written on another form than the one proposed by ENS?

Yes, your referees can choose their own format.

What are the academic disciplines?

Academic disciplines offered through International selection in Sciences are: Biology, Chemistry, Earthscience, Computing science, Mathematics, Physics, Cognitive sciences. Candidates must select 1 major (mandatory) and 1 minor (optional).

Academic disciplines offered through International selection in Arts&Humanities are: Anthropology, Archeology, Classical studies (Greek, Latin), Cinema, Theater studies, History of Art, Musicology, Cognitive sciences, Economics, Political studies, Geography, History, History and Philosophy of Law, History and Philosophy of Sciences, Linguistics, Literature, Philosophy, Sociology. Candidates must select 1 discipline.


For shortlisted candidates in Arts and Humanities, what happens in the interview?

During the interview, the candidates must introduce themselves for a maximum of 10 minutes to present their background and academic and professional projects.

Then the jury asks them questions for 10 minutes.

What is the bibliography you ask in Arts and Humanities?

The bibliography is a list of 10 items: books, articles or literary works you have read and which turned out to be important in your intellectual career.


What do I write in my research project (in Arts&Humanities)?

Your project is a research project of 3 pages maximum (10 000 characters including spaces).  This is not a cover letter but a research project: it should address a well-defined topic and deal with a core issue, then develop a set of arguments and provide for a few hypotheses. The material the research project relies on (e.g. fieldwork, corpus, database, archives, etc.) has to be precisely described. The research project refers to an existing scientific literature while selecting a small range of relevant and informed references.This project includes a bibliography (list of 10 books, including articles or literary works you have read and which turned out to be important in your intellectual career). It comes in addition to the study project. - written in French; Candidates in Economics, Linguistics or Cognitive studies can submit their  project either in French or in English.


Where do I have to send my documents?

All your documents must be deposited in the personnal account you create when you apply. The initial application form is on https://www.ens.psl.eu/en/academics/admissions/international-selection

The candidate must check his/her application dossier is complet. Any uncomplete dossier will be rejected.

(Please no dossier via postal mail)


Do I have to translate my documents for the application?

Passport or ID card is not to be translated.

High school degree and university transcript must be in French or in English. They are accepted in Spanish, Italian or Portuguese.

How hard is the selection?

The selection rates varies from year to year, between 5 and 10%.

Am I allowed to apply to DENS (ENS'graduate degree) through "Concours normalien étudiant"?

If you want to, you have to apply on our Web page (Application in March-April), on ENS’ Website. Admission by “concours Normalien étudiant” doesn’t award you with any grant, but you can prepare both a master and the DENS.

Some departments open applications to their master’s. Please visit their Webpage.

In Arts and Humanities, what are the tests?

•    a written test in French, related to the candidate's discipline
•    an oral test with a panel of professors chosen in the candidate's discipline
•    an interview about the candidate's academic background and application project, in front of a single panel

Bothe the oral exam and the interview are conducted in French. The candidate may use English.

These exams will be organised as distance exams. They will be detailed on our Web page.

Previous years tests here.


In Sciences, what are the 2 tests?

The oral tests in Sciences are:

•    Oral test in your major
•    Interview about your motivations and your personal scientific culture

When applying, students are invited to indicate their choice of training department, constituting their major discipline. Applicants can indicate an additional minor discipline in the case of a training project across two scientific departments. The choice of a minor assumes a minimum theoretical background in this discipline and involves additional evaluation by the jury of this department during interviews.

Previous years tests here.


For short listed candidates in Arts and Humanities, what happens during the interview?

During the interview, the candidates must introduce themselves for a maximum of 10 minutes and present their background as well as their academic and professional projects.
Then the jury asks them questions during 10 to 15 minutes.


For short listed candidates in Sciences, what happens during the interview?

The interview varies between departments, but a scientific article is often proposed to the candidate as a base of the conversation and exchanges with the jury members coming from both disciplines chosen by the candidate (Major and Minor).


Am I allowed to use a dictionary or any document during the tests?

Any personal document is forbidden.
Dictionary is not allowed.


Who are the jury members?

Jury members are French or foreign teachers, teaching at ENS or in any other university. The jury list is displayed on the ENS’ Website at the beginning of the tests.

Visas and Campus France

For what type of visa do I apply?

If admitted, candidates needing a visa must get a long stay visa i.e “visa long séjour pour études”. This application can be done through Campus France.
Site of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.





Does Campus France office forward my application to the ENS?

No, campus France doesn’t forward any application to the international selection. But you need a pastel account on Campus France in order to apply for a long stay visa for studies, if admitted.



How much is the grant?

The grant for students selected through International selection is € 1 000 a month, during 36 months.


How much are the tuition fees?

In public universities in France, tuition fees are paid by the State. But you have to pay registration fees.


How much are the inscription fees?

For 2021/2022, they were € 243 to register in Master’s, € 210 to register to the ENS graduate degree, and € 92 for the CVEC (Contribution à la vie étudiante, i.e.cotisation to students life) for the academic year. Inscription fees are re-evaluated each year and published on the following Website: http://www.education.gouv.fr/

What is the cost of living in France?

In Paris, the living cost is around € 800 per month. The cost for food is € 280 to 300 per month.

If I am selected, is it necessary to open a French bank account?

ENS is allowed to credit only a French bank account with this sum. That’s the reason why you must open a French bank account. You open it in September, once arrived in Paris.


What are the teaching languages?
  • International selection Arts & Humanities:  In Arts and Humanities, courses are in French. 
  • International selection Sciences: In Sciences, they are either in French or in English, depending on the department.
What is the level required for languages?
  • International selection Arts & Humanities: Candidates in Humanities must read and write French easily enough to be able to understand courses and tests (B1 level), butwe don't require any official langauge degree.
  • International selection Sciences:  In Sciences, no level is officially required.
Can I take French lessons at ENS?

Yes, ENS offers French lessons throughout the year, at different levels.
An intensive French course is also offered to foreign students at the very beginning of September.


If admitted through International selection, how long will be my schooling?

Admitted through International selection, your schooling lasts 3 years, allowing you to validate a Masters (M1+M2) and 72 additional ECTS in order to obtain ENS graduate degree.

What are the courses offered in my major?
Can I take a gap year during my studies at ENS?

Students selected through international selection are allowed to ask up to 2 gap years during their studies (either annual or biannual). During the gap year (or semester), the grant is not paid.

Can I choose my tutor?

The department of your major chooses your tutor.

You are given his/her name in August or September.

Is it compulsory to enrol in the ENS’ graduate degree (DENS)?

Yes, if selected by international selection, you must enroll in the ENS graduate Degree. To obtain this degree, you have to earn 72 ECTS (credits) in addition to the credits you validate for your master. You have 3 years to get these credits.


Is it compulsory to enrol in a Master?

Yes, if selected, you must enroll in a Master’s (sometimes, you enroll first in the last undergraduate year, depending on the level of recruitment), either at ENS or in one of our partner universities.

Am I subjected to the ten-year commitment, if admitted through International selection?

Student admitted through International selection don’t receive a salary but a monthly grant, don’t become civil servant. Therefore they are not subjected to the ten-year commitment.

What is the average weekly timetable?

Timetable varies depending on each student. The average volume of class hours is between 10 and 20 hours per week. To this volume, you must add courses at ENS.


What is the equipment in the room?

If admitted, you can ask for a room (the rent is € 315 a month). It is furnished.



Can I be housed at ENS during my 3 years ‘schooling?

During your 1st year, you are usually housed rue d’Ulm. During the 2 following years, your accommodation could be in 1 of the 3 campuses, either rue d’Ulm, or boulevard Jourdan or in Montrouge. Be aware you can use a joker in order to choose the location of your room, but if you have used all your jokers, you are not assured to get an accommodation for the 3d year.
Rooms are allocated by the general delegation i.e délégation générale (DG), a group of students.
Re-allocations are organised several times a year.
The dormitory is closed in August. Students must empty their room before the end of July (the deadline varies each year). They store their belongings, carefully packed in a storage room (trunks room i.e salle des malles) and settle again at the beginning of September. Therefore, no rent is debited in August.


Mis à jour le 15/09/2023