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The Diplôme d'Ingénieur (French: [diplom dɛ̃ʒenjœʁ], often abbreviated as Dipl. Ing.) is a postgraduate degree in engineering (see Engineer's Degrees in Europe) awarded by the French Grandes Écoles in engineering. It is generally obtained after five to seven years of studies after the French Baccalauréat.
Each holder of the diplôme d'ingénieur is also conferred the title of Ingénieur diplômé (graduate engineer). This is distinguished from the term 'ingénieur' (engineer) which is non-regulated and can be loosely used as a generic title based on one's professional position or nature of work rather than formal academic qualifications.
Diplôme d'ingénieur graduates from reputable institutions often access the French job market with a significant advantage compared to PhDs. However, this is not always true for all industries, and roles that require high technical expertise (especially research in specific area) will favor a specialized master's or PhD qualification.
The title Ingénieur diplômé is a strictly regulated and protected by the French state. Any institution issuing the diplôme d'ingénieur must be accredited by the Commission des titres d'ingénieur (within the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research) which is the official administrative body responsible for evaluating higher education institutions to train professional engineers in France. Anyone found to be misusing the title of Ingénieur diplômé is liable to a €15,000 fine and a one-year sentence in prison.
Since the signing of the Bologna Process in 1999, the European Master's Degree is also conferred by the state to the holder of a diplôme d'ingénieur, but the converse is not true. This is because the diplôme d'ingénieur is recognised to include, but significantly surpass, a Bologna Process Master's Degree.
Grandes Écoles and Universities in France
France is particular in that only accredited Grandes Écoles in engineering are certified to issue the diplôme d'ingénieur, which is differentiated from bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering issued by public universities (Universités).
Universities in France are comprehensive institutions composed of several faculties covering various fields (natural sciences, engineering, law, economics, medicine, humanities, etc) with a large student body. By law, admission to a French university is non-competitive and open to anyone with a high school diploma. On the other hand, Grandes Écoles in engineering are much smaller in size and recruit their students with very selective processes (typically a few hundred students per year per institution, and a few thousand students per year country-wide), with the minimum qualification being 2 years of post-baccalureate studies in scientific classes préparatoires, three to four years University studies (Bachelors or Masters), or an otherwise equivalent training for foreign students, in order to be admitted to the engineer training in one of the Grandes Écoles.
The engineer training leading to the diplôme d'ingénieur may vary significantly among the Grandes Écoles in terms of curriculum structure, despite the same accreditation from CTI. In general, the most prestigious (therefore highly selective) Grandes Écoles tend to offer a multidisciplinary curriculum for their flagship engineer program, exposing students to various fields of study with each courses taught at a graduate level. The multidisciplinary engineer program in the so-called 'generalist' Grandes Écoles is usually considered to be more competitive and intensive than specialized master's degree programs. However, this is not always the case, and there are a number of well-established Grandes Écoles that focus on a specialized curriculum for their engineer program.
Student engineers in Grandes Écoles are educated in close cooperation with the various industries through academic-industry partnerships, which introduce graduates to professional life while giving them a solid grounding in their discipline. As many graduates will advance to positions leading future projects and teams, courses related to management and professional training are also included in the curriculum.
In addition to the core curriculum in engineering and science, the French engineer training often includes, and is not limited to:
- courses in humanities and social sciences
- courses in business administration
- visits to production sites
- conferences and career talks by professionals
- internships and research projects
More than 90 percent of the French engineer programs require at least one internship (typically in a business setting) at some point in the curriculum.
Most schools arrange three types of internships that train the students with progressive responsibilities, initially as observers and increasingly as actors, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding and perspective of all levels of responsibility and roles within the industry. One can distinguish “worker” (blue-collar) internships, “senior technician” internships, and “graduate” internships where the students perform the same type of work they will do as graduate engineers. Internships are graded and constitute part of the academic degree requirements.