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In France, the agrégation (French pronunciation: [aɡʁeɡasjɔ̃]) is the most competitive and prestigious examination for civil service in the French public education system. Successful candidates become professeurs agrégés and are usually appointed as teachers in secondary schools or preparatory classes, or as lecturers in universities.


Originating from the 18th century,[1] the agrégation is a highly prestigious and competitive examination.[2][3][4][5] The level of selectivity varies between disciplines: every year, the French Ministry of National Education determines and publishes a list of annual quotas for each discipline.[6] There are about 300 to 400 positions open each year for mathematics, but usually fewer positions for humanities and social sciences (for example, 85 positions for philosophy were offered in 2024[7]) and perhaps only one seat in some rarely taught foreign languages such as Japanese.

The agrégation is typically open only to holders of a five-year university diploma (master's degree) or above. There is also an internal agrégation for professeurs certifiés.

Selection process[edit]

The examination requires usually more than a year of preparation. Students of the écoles normales supérieures as well as graduate students who have just completed their master's degree often dedicate an entire year of their curriculum to prepare this examination, enrolling into specific graduate programs. Candidates are called agrégatifs.

The competitive exam generally consists first of a written part (admissibility), then an oral part (admission).

The jury is composed of university professors.


The admissibility phase is composed of numerous writing tests, which consist of essays and analyses of documents. Each test takes up to 7 hours in duration, and the admissibility phase usually runs over an entire week.

Points obtained at each test are totaled, and candidates that meet the threshold set by the yearly quota are pronounced admissible by the jury. The writing part is when most candidates are eliminated.


The remaining candidates have to go through an oral part (admission), composed of different oral exams.[8] In front of the jury, candidates must demonstrate their ability to prepare and give lectures on any topic within the scope of the discipline.

These lectures provide the opportunity to verify that the candidates possess the appropriate speaking skills and master the main exercises and components of their discipline; for example, in the Agrégation of Classics (French, Greek, Latin), candidates have to translate and comment on classical texts and texts from French literature. These lessons extend well above the secondary education level; the candidate may have to present a lesson appropriate for the second, third, or even fourth years of specialized courses at the university level. One reason is that the agrégés should be able to teach in preparatory classes, very similar in nature to grammar schools, or in universities.

Points obtained at the admissibility and admission phases are ultimately totaled and used to rank candidates in accordance with the yearly quota: for instance, for a quota of 60 positions, the first 60 candidates will pass the exam and are pronounced admis by the jury.

The agrégation is therefore used as an unofficial national ranking system for students, giving a fair comparison between candidates of different universities. That is especially true in the humanities and social sciences, for which the agrégation is highly selective and supposedly demonstrates erudition of the candidate.

Professional outcomes[edit]

In France, professeurs agrégés are distinguished from professeurs certifiés, recruited through the CAPES, the other main competitive exam in the French education system. The agrégés receives a higher salary and are usually endorsed with a smaller teaching service. While agrégés are expected to teach in sixth-form colleges (lycées) and universities and the certifiés in secondary schools (collèges), there is a significant overlap.

In addition to the vast majority of agrégés teaching in sixth-form colleges and secondary schools, some agrégés teach in the preparatory classes for the grandes écoles, or at the university level, through a faculty position known as PRAG and focused on teaching, which does not require to undertake scientific research, as other university academics do. A few positions that include research activities, called agrégé préparateur, or AGPR, exist in the écoles normales supérieures.

List of agrégations[edit]

Foreign languages
  • Agrégation d'allemand (Agrégation of German language)
  • Agrégation d'anglais (Agrégation of English language)
  • Agrégation d'arabe (Agrégation of Arabic language)
  • Agrégation de chinois (Agrégation of Chinese language)
  • Agrégation d'espagnol (Agrégation of Spanish language)
  • Agrégation d'hébreu moderne (Agrégation of Hebrew language)
  • Agrégation d'italien (Agrégation of Italian language)
  • Agrégation de japonais (Agrégation of Japanese language)
  • Agrégation de polonais (Agrégation of Polish language)
  • Agrégation de russe (Agrégation of Russian language)
  • Agrégation de portugais (Agrégation of Portuguese language)
Economics and Social Sciences
  • Agrégation de sciences économiques et sociales (Agrégation of economics and social sciences)
    • option histoire et géographie du monde contemporain (history and geography of modern world - from the industrial revolution)
    • option science politique et droit public (political science and public law)
  • Agrégation d'économie/gestion (Agrégation of economics and management) :
    • option A : économie et gestion administrative,
    • option B : économie et gestion compatible et financière,
    • option C : économie et gestion commerciale,
    • option D : économie, informatique et gestion.

Although both Agrégations are labeled as Agrégation of economics, the Agrégation of economics and social sciences is more oriented towards political economy whereas the Agrégation of economics and management is more oriented towards business economics.

Physical and Natural Sciences
Technical and Vocational Education
  • Agrégation d'arts : (Agrégation of arts)
    • option arts plastiques (Agrégation of visual arts)
    • option arts appliqués (Agrégation of applied arts)
    • option histoire des arts (Agrégation of arts' history)
  • Agrégation de musique (Agrégation of music)
Physical Education

In higher education[edit]

In some disciplines of higher education such as law, legal history, political science, economics, management, there exists an agrégation for the professorship positions, called agrégation de l'enseignement supérieur. In this competitive exam, the candidate also has to give several lessons in front of a committee.[10] Usually there are three lessons, spread over several months, except in economics, where there are only two lessons. The first and the last lessons have to be prepared alone, during eight hours, in a library of basic titles selected by the committee. For the remaining lesson, when it exists, the candidate has a full 24 hours to prepare for the examination, and may use several libraries as well as a team of "helpers" (usually doctoral candidates or fellow candidates, but never full professors).

Some anticonformist sociologists like Pierre Bourdieu have argued that this exam measures a candidate's social connections as much their ability to present a lesson, especially considering the composition of the examining committee.[citation needed]

  • Agrégation de droit (Agrégation of law)
    • Agrégation de droit privé (Agrégation of private law)
    • Agrégation de droit public (Agrégation of public law)
    • Agrégation d'histoire du droit (Agrégation of legal history)
  • Agrégation de science politique (Agrégation of political science)
  • Agrégation d'économie (Agrégation of economics ; not to be confused with the agrégations for secondary education that are the agrégation de sciences économiques et sociales and the agrégation d'économie et de gestion)
  • Agrégation de gestion (Agrégation of management ; not to be confused with the agrégation for secondary education that is the agrégation d'économie et de gestion)

Some well-known agrégés[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

In the movie L'Étudiante, a dramatic scene features Sophie Marceau undertaking the oral exam for the agrégation of Classic Literature.[12]

In the TV show The Bureau, Paul Lefebvre, one of the aliases of French spy Guillaume Debailly, played by Mathieu Kassovitz, holds the agrégation of Modern Literature.

Further reading[edit]

  • André Chervel. "Les agrégés de l'enseignement secondaire. Répertoire 1809–1950" [List of successful agrégés by subject matter and year from 1809 to 1950]. Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  • Chervel André, Compere Marie-Madeleine, "Les candidats aux trois concours pour l'agrégation de l'Université de Paris (1766–1791)", juin 2002
  • Verneuil, Yves, Les agrégés: histoire d'une exception française. Paris, Belin, 2005, 367 p.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schrift, Alan D. (2008). "The effects of the agrégation de philosophie on twentieth-century French philosophy". Retrieved 2024-01-07.
  2. ^ "L'agrégation, miroir de l'école française". Le (in French). 2014-11-06. Retrieved 2024-01-07.
  3. ^ Willsher, Kim (2007-08-08). "Anglophones 'need not apply'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2024-01-07.
  4. ^ Bourdieu, Pierre; Saint Martin, Monique de (1987). "Agrégation et ségrégation". Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales. 69 (1): 2–50. doi:10.3406/arss.1987.2380.
  5. ^ Beattie, Nicholas (1994). "Review of Histoire de l'Agrégation: Contribution à l'histoire de la Culture Scolaire". British Journal of Educational Studies. 42 (2): 196–198. doi:10.2307/3122340. ISSN 0007-1005.
  6. ^ "Les postes et contrats offerts aux concours de l'agrégation de la session 2024 |". (in French). Retrieved 2024-01-07.
  7. ^ "Les postes et contrats offerts aux concours de l'agrégation de la session 2024 |". (in French). Retrieved 2024-01-07.
  8. ^ Mouly, C.; Atias, C. (1993). "Faculty Recruitment in France". The American Journal of Comparative Law. 41 (3): 401. doi:10.2307/840656. ISSN 0002-919X.
  9. ^ "Page of the ministry of education on the creation of the Agrégation in computer science". Devenir enseignant. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  10. ^ Official text organizing the French "agrégation de l'enseignement supérieur"
  11. ^ Jacob S. D. Blakesley (2018). A Sociological Approach to Poetry Translation: Modern European Poet-Translators. Routledge Advances in Translation and Interpreting Studies. Routledge. ISBN 9780429869853.
  12. ^ L'Étudiante (1988)- Accepte moi comme je suis et je t'accepterai comme tu es, retrieved 2024-01-08