School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences

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The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences
L'École des hautes études en sciences sociales
Ehess logo.svg
Other names
Former names
École pratique des hautes études, VI Section (1947–1975),
École libre des hautes études (1941-1946)
Typegrande école (informal)
Grand établissement
EstablishedJanuary 23, 1975
Budget€60 million[1]
PresidentPierre-Cyrille Hautcoeur
Academic staff
Administrative staff
AffiliationsParis Sciences et Lettres (Université PSL)

The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (French: École des hautes études en sciences sociales; also known as EHESS) is one of the most selective and prestigious graduate schools of social sciences in Paris, France. It is one of the French grands établissements and a member of PSL University, generally ranked as the best university in France, since 2014.[2][3]

Originally a department of the École Pratique des Hautes Études, an institution created in 1868 with the purpose of training academic researchers, the EHESS became an independent institution in 1975. Today its research covers the fields of Economics and Finance (through the Paris School of Economics), Cognitive Sciences, Humanities, Political Sciences, Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Development studies, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Musicology, and Philosophy of social science.

The institution is concentrated on scholarly research and some of its faculty (known as "directeurs d'études") have achieved international recognition in different areas: in economics, Thomas Piketty and Nobel laureates Esther Duflo and Jean Tirole; historians such as Fernand Braudel and Lucien Febvre; anthropologists such as Claude Lévi-Strauss, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and Marcel Mauss, sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu, Edgar Morin and Alain Touraine; philosophers such as Jacques Derrida, and interdisciplinary scholars such as Marcel Mauss and Raymond Aron.
As a higher education institution under the jurisdiction of the French Ministry of Education, the EHESS trains academic researchers and professors specialised in the social sciences. It awards graduate degrees, such as the master of research and the doctorate, as well as a school diploma. Some of them are awarded conjointly with institutions such as the École Normale Supérieure, the École Polytechnique, the École pratique des hautes études, and some of the universities of Paris.

The EHESS is a grande école and, as such, is not part of the mainstream university system. It evaluates students through a selection process based on the research project of the applicants. The scholars in training are free to choose their own curriculum among the large quantity of seminars offered by the school. The école has a small student-faculty ratio (830 researchers for 3000 students). Most faculty belong to other institutions, mostly within the CNRS but also other schools of Université PSL such as the ENS, the EPHE and the ENC, schools of Université Paris-Saclay such as Télécom ParisTech and the ENSAE, and some of the universities of Paris.[4]


École pratique des hautes études[edit]

Originally part of the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE) as its VI Section: Sciences économiques et sociales, the EHESS gained autonomy as an independent higher education institution on 23 January 1975. The creation of a dedicated branch for social science research within the EPHE was catalyzed by the Annales historical school and was supported by several academic initiatives of the Rockefeller Foundation, dating to the 1920s. After WWII, the Rockefeller Foundation invested more funds in French institutions, seeking to encourage non-Marxist sociological studies.

The VIth section was created in 1947, and Lucien Febvre took its head. Soon after its creation (1947), the VI Section, later EHESS, became one of the most influential shapers of contemporary historiography, area studies and social sciences methodology, thanks to the contribution of eminent scholars such as Fernand Braudel, Jacques Le Goff and François Furet. F. Braudel succeeded L. Febvre in 1956. He concentrated the various study groups at the well-known building on boulevard Raspail, in part by financing from the Ford Foundation.[5]

Independent institution[edit]

Today, the EHESS is one of France's Grands établissements. It functions as a research, teaching, and degree-granting institution. It offers advanced students high-level programs intended to lead to research careers. Students are admitted on the relevance of their research project and undertake at the EHESS master programs and doctoral studies. The main areas of specialization include: history, literary theory, linguistics, philosophy, philology, sociology, anthropology, economics, cognitive science, demographics, geography, archaeology, psychology, law, and mathematics. The institution's focus is on interdisciplinary research within these fields. The EHESS has more than 40 research centers (among which are several joint research units with the CNRS) and 22 doctoral programs, 13 of which are in partnership with other French Universities and Grandes écoles.[6]

PSL Research University[edit]

The school is a constituent college of the federal PSL Research University. Other institutions include the College de France, the École Normale Supérieure, the École pratique des hautes études, Chimie ParisTech, ESPCI ParisTech, the École des mines, and Paris Dauphine University.



Influence from the Annales School[edit]

Lucien Febvre and Fernand Braudel were members of the École des Annales, the dominant school of historical analysis in France during the interwar period. However, this school of thought was contested by the growing importance of the social sciences and the beginning of structuralism. Under pressure from Claude Lévi-Strauss, in particular, they integrated new contributions from the fields of sociology and ethnography to event-based historical analysis, a concept put forward by the Annales school, to advocate for the concept of "a nearly imperceptible passage of history". They were reproached, along with the structuralists, for ignoring politics and the individual's influence over his fate during a period in which the colonial wars of liberation were taking place.[citation needed]

The work of Braudel, Le Roy Ladurie and other historians working under their influence greatly affected the research and official teaching of history in France beginning in the 1960s. The work of Jean-Marie Pesez renewed interest in the issue of methodology in medieval archeology and created the idea of "material culture".[citation needed]

New History[edit]

During the 1970s, EHESS became the center of New History under the influence of Jacques Le Goff and Pierre Nora. During this period, a generation of ethnologists working under the ideas of Georges Balandier and Marc Augé were critical of the French colonial tradition and applied modern sociological concepts to third world countries.


Pierre Bourdieu, Luc Boltanski, Alain Touraine, Jean-Claude Passeron have all been associated with EHESS.


EHESS has always been a central place for economic debate in Europe. In France this debate is also enabled by the proximity of the researchers in Paris with national economic institutions: In this sense EHESS's advisors who have been drawn from economic professors have enjoyed a large media audience (a case example was Jean Fourastié). The diversity of viewpoints has been a priority, and liberal and Marxist economists have had the chance to debate in EHESS. Since the 1970s and 1980s EHESS has focused on quantitative economics, with classes led by well-known professors such as Louis-André Gérard-Varet, Jean-Jacques Laffont, François Bourguignon and Roger Guesnerie. They initiated not only the Paris School of Economics but the Toulouse School of Economics and Grequam (Aix-Marseille).



More than 50% of the student body comes from countries other than France.

Domestic and foreign networks[edit]


The school is a founding member of the Paris School of Economics, Toulouse School of Economics, and Aix-Marseille School of Economics, the three French leading centers in Quantitative Economics. Since 2014 it is an associated member of the Paris Research University (PSL).

International partnerships[edit]

EHESS has exchange programs with universities such as Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Berkeley, Columbia and Michigan State in the United States, Heidelberg in Germany, Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan, Peking in China, the European University Institute in Florence, etc. Also, it has many relations and exchange programs with universities in Asia and the Middle-East; it holds research centers on Asian Studies and Islamic Studies.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

Past and present faculty (including EPHE's VI Section):

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^és-et-centres-recherche

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°51′0.86″N 2°19′36.33″E / 48.8502389°N 2.3267583°E / 48.8502389; 2.3267583