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.

Where do I have to send my documents?

All documents must be submitted in electronic format on the on-line application portal (but not sent by post).

How hard is the selection?

Each year, the international office receives around 1600 applications, but only 320 to 340 of them are complete with the eligibility criteria respected. Around 70 to 80 candidates are on the shortlist and come to Paris. 20 students are finally selected to become the scholarship holders of the international selection.

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.

  • International selection Arts & Humanities: Letter of motivation, study project and bibliography must be in French. 
  • International selection Sciences: letter of motivation and study project can be either in French or in English.
Do you accept recommendation letters written on another form than the one proposed by ENS?

Yes, your referees can choose their own format.

Am I allowed to apply to "Concours voie universitaire"?

If you want to, you have to fill out the application in April, on ENS’ Website. Admission to DENS doesn’t award you with any grant, but you will have the same career as a student admitted through the International selection, i.e. you will prepare both a master and the DENS diploma.

Some departments open applications to their master. For more information: www.ens.fr 

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.

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?

Candidates needing a visa to enter France apply for a visa “concours à entrées multiples 3 mois”.

Warning: Some countries (see list above) are under Campus France procedure for the visa “concours” application. Campus France Website:
www.campusfrance.org >Préparer son séjour >S’inscrire >Pays à procédure CEF, for the citizens of 41 following countries: Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic republic of Congo, Egypt, South Korea, Kuwait,  Ivory Coast, USA, Gabon, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Maurice, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Senegal, Singapore, Taiwan, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Vietnam.

Some of those countries have specific programs and procedures for the application on Campus France. For more information, contact SAE by email at ens-international@ens.fr or by phone at +33 1 44 32 31 08.

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 to apply for a visa to come for the tests.


If I am on the shortlist and have to go to Paris for the tests, does ENS cover travel expenses

Candidates invited for the tests can ask for a room (subject to avialability). Each night is charged € 30. During the tests, bed linen is provided, as well as a pillow, a blanket and towels.

If I am shortlisted, can I have a room on the campus during the tests?

Candidates invited for the tests can ask for a room (subject to avialability). The price for 10 nights is € 250 (and € 30 for each additional night). During the tests, bed linen is provided, as well as a pillow, a blanket and towels.

How much is the grant and how can I receive it?

The international selection grant is € 1 000 a month, for 36 months. ENS is allowed to credit only a French bank account with this sum. That’s the reason why you have to open a French bank account.

How much are tuition fees?

In public universities in France, tuition fees are paid by the State.

How much is the registration fee?

Registration fees are evaluated each year. They are around € 600 to € 800 for the academic year.

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.


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.


What are the courses offered in my major?

Please see the Web page of each department:

In Arts & Humanities

In Sciences

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’ Diploma?

Yes, if selected by international selection, you must enrol in the ENS’ Diploma. To obtain this diploma, you have to earn 72 ECTS (credits) in addition to the credits you need for your master. You have 3 years to get these credits.

Is it compulsory to enrol in a Master?

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

Can I take French lessons at ENS?

Yes, ENS proposes French lessons all year round, at different levels.

An intensive French course is also offered to foreign students at the very beginning of September.


What is the equipment in the room?

If admitted, you can ask for a room (the rent is € 320 a month). It is furnished but is not equipped with household linen. For more information: www.ens.fr/en/campus-life-paris

Mis à jour le 16/05/2019