Sorbonne University

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Sorbonne University
Sorbonne University Logo.svg
Endowment€900 million
Budget€670 million
PresidentProfessor Dr Jean Chambaz
CampusLatin Quarter; Abu Dhabi
Chapel of the main Sorbonne building

Sorbonne University (French: Sorbonne Université [sɔʁbɔn ynivɛʁsite]) is a public research university in Paris, France, established by fusion in 2018 of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University. The date 1257 on its emblem refers to the historical University of Paris, whose Collège de Sorbonne was founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon, and whose faculty of humanities it is the main inheritor.


In 2010, some of the direct successors of the faculties of the University of Paris created the Sorbonne University group. The following universities, members of the group, have decided to merge into Sorbonne University in 2018:

At the same time, Sorbonne University group was renamed Association Sorbonne Université and gathers the following institutions for academic cooperation:[1]

As part of the reforms of French Higher Education, on 19 March 2018, the international jury called by the French Government for the "Initiative d’Excellence (IDEX)" confirmed the definite win of Sorbonne Université. Sorbonne Université benefits now from an endowment of 900 Mio euros with no limit of time. This is the first higher education institution in Paris region to win such an endowment. The establishment of the university was decreed on 21 April 2017[2] and took place on the 1 January 2018.


Sorbonne University has 3 faculties and receives law teachings from Panthéon-Assas University.

Humanities (Lettres)

Letters are the more ancient teachings of the Sorbonne University. History, Geography, Languages are part of this faculty.


The faculty of science of Sorbonne University is a major pole of research in France.

It has more than 125 laboratories, most of them in association with the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Some of its most notable institutes and laboratories include the Institut Henri Poincaré, Institut d'astrophysique de Paris, Laboratoire d'informatique de Paris 6 (LIP6), Institut de mathématiques de Jussieu (shared with University Paris-Diderot) and the Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel (shared with École Normale Supérieure).


The faculty of Medicine is located in the teaching hospitals Pitié-Salpêtrière and Saint-Antoine (the latter itself being the successor to Saint-Antoine-des-Champs Abbey).

Law (external teachings)

There is no law school as such in Sorbonne University. In 1971, most of the law professors from the Faculty of Law and Economics of the University of Paris decided to restructure it as a university, called Panthéon-Assas University (after the two main campuses of the Paris Law Faculty: place du Panthéon and rue d’Assas campuses).[3]. Panthéon-Assas is now providing law teachings for Sorbonne University as an independent university.



Sorbonne University's central campus is in the historic central Sorbonne building in the Latin Quarter, undivided property of the 13 successor universities of the University of Paris, managed by the Chancellerie des Universités de Paris[4][5]. Besides the monuments of the Cour d'honneur, the chapel and the Grand amphitéâtre[6], the building houses the Academy of Paris Rectorat, the Chancellerie des Universités de Paris, part of the Universities Panthéon Sorbonne (Paris 1), Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris 3), Sorbonne Université (former Paris 4), Paris Descartes (Paris 5), the Ecole Nationale des Chartes and the Ecole Pratique de Hautes Etudes[7].

Before the 19th century, the Sorbonne occupied several buildings. The chapel was built in 1622 by the then-Provisor of the University of Paris, Cardinal Richelieu, during the reign of Louis XIII. In 1881, politician Jules Ferry decided to convert the Sorbonne into one single building. Under the supervision of Pierre Greard, Chief Officer of the Education Authority of Paris, Henri-Paul Nénot constructed the current building from 1883 to 1901 that reflects a basic architectural uniformity. The integration of the chapel into the whole was also Nénot’s work with the construction of a cour d'honneur. The Sorbonne building is generally reserved for undergraduate students in their third year and graduate students in certain academic disciplines. Only students in Semitic studies, regardless of level, take all their classes at the Sorbonne campus.

The Library of the Sorbonne is an inter-university library of the Universities Panthéon Sorbonne (Paris 1), Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris 3), Sorbonne Université (former Paris 4), Paris Descartes (Paris 5), and Paris Diderot (Paris 7), under the administration of Panthéon Sorbonne[8]. It is open exclusively to undergraduate students in their third year and graduate students. With the former archives of the now-defunct University of Paris, 2,500,000 books, 400,000 of them ancient, 2,500 historical manuscripts, 18,000 doctoral dissertation papers, 17,750 past and current French and international periodicals and 7,100 historical printing plates, the Library of the Sorbonne is the largest university library in Paris and was entirely refurbished in 2013.


The Jussieu campus has been totally refurbished in the 2010.[9]

Maison de la Recherche

Inter-university Library of La Sorbonne

The Maison de la Recherche campus is the central building for doctoral studies that hosts the history and geography departments. It houses the Serpente Library that has 55,000 works and 292 past and current French and international periodicals. All doctoral dissertations since 1 January 1986 have been stored at the Serpente Library.

Clignancourt and Malesherbes

The two biggest campuses apart from the main Sorbonne building are the Clignancourt and Malesherbes centers. Undergraduate students in their first and second years of study in Philosophy, History, Geography, English and Spanish take their classes at the Clignancourt center. The Clignancourt Library contains 78,000 works, 210 French and international periodicals and 800 educational DVDs.

Undergraduate students in their first and second years of study in French literature, French language, Latin, Ancient Greek and Musicology take their classes at the Malesherbes center. All undergraduate students in these academic disciplines study in the central Sorbonne building in their third year. Undergraduate and graduate students in German studies, Slavic studies, Italic studies and Romanian studies, regardless of level, take all of their classes at the Malesherbes center. The Malesherbes center also hosts three research centers in Italian culture, the cultures and literature of central Europe and the Balkans and the Germanic, Nordic and Dutch centers. The Malesherbes Library contains 200,000 works specializing in the study of foreign languages and cultures and 1,200 past and current French and international periodicals. More than 50,000 doctoral dissertations are available for public viewing.

Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie

Undergraduate Art History and Archeology students take their classes at the Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie, located at the main entrance of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Constructed by architect Paul Bigot between 1925 and 1930, the Mesopotamian-style building was classified as a national historical building in 1996. It hosts the Michelet Library that contains 100,000 volumes of work on art history and archeology with 100 French and international periodicals. Only 10,000 of the art history and archeology works are open to students, the others requiring special authorization of usage. Graduate Art History and Archeology students take their courses at the Institut National de l'Histoire de l'Art in the Galerie Colbert, a partnered national institution of the University.

Other campuses in Paris

Both the Institut d'Urbanisme et d'Aménagement and the Institut d'Etudes hispanique in the Latin Quarter host third year and graduate students of Geography and Iberian and Latin American studies. The Marcel Bataillon Library houses the Institut d'Etudes hispaniques' collection of 25,000 works on Iberian and Latin-American culture. Catalan studies take place at the Centre d'Etudes catalanes in the Marais.

There are also Campus Pitié and Campus Saint-Antoine for medicine ; Campus Les Cordeliers, Campus Curie and Campus Raspail for sciences.

Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi

An exclusive international agreement between Paris-Sorbonne and the government of Abu Dhabi was signed on 19 February 2006, starting plans to bring Paris-Sorbonne University to Abu Dhabi. The Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (PSUAD) was established on 30 May 2008 on Reem Island by a decree of the ruler of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates. All programs are taught in the French language. An intensive French language programme is offered for one or two year(s) to students who do not meet the French language requirement for registration. The establishment of the university demonstrates the keenness of Abu Dhabi to create an international hub in culture and education, having also signed a contract with the Louvre in 2007 to create the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and with New York University in 2007 to create New York University Abu Dhabi. PSUAD is jointly governed by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) and by PSUAD's board of six members, three of whom are appointed by the home Paris-Sorbonne University, the other three appointed by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. The President of PSUAD and Chairman of the Board is the President of the home Paris-Sorbonne University, currently Georges Molinié. Academic programs are offered at the undergraduate level only in the social sciences, humanities and fine arts.


Members have worked on several projects in order to strengthen the relations between them and potentially create a new international institution. The most famous projects are the "Sorbonne College" (Collège de la Sorbonne) for bachelor's degree teaching and the "Sorbonne Doctoral College" (Collège doctoral de la Sorbonne) for PhD candidates.

The Sorbonne College

Since 2014, the Sorbonne College for bachelor's degree (« Collège des Licences de la Sorbonne ») has been coordinating the academic projects inside Sorbonne University and with Panthéon-Assas University, the law school of the Sorbonne University Group which has not merged into the Sorbonnne University and remained independent. It also offers cross-institutional academic courses in many fields, allowing students to graduate from both institutions. For example, some cross-institutional bachelor's degrees (« double licences ») are proposed to students in :

  • Science and History (Sorbonne)
  • Science and Musicology (Sorbonne)
  • Science and Philosophy (Sorbonne)
  • Science and Chinese (Sorbonne)
  • Science and German (Sorbonne)
  • Law and History (Panthéon-Assas / Sorbonne)
  • Law and Art History (Panthéon-Assas / Sorbonne)
  • Law and Science (Panthéon-Assas / Sorbonne)
  • History and Media (Sorbonne / Panthéon-Assas)[10]

As it is the case in the Anglo-American university system, Sorbonne University proposes a major-minor system, that is currently being deployed at the University.[11]

Sorbonne University, in partnership with INSEAD, also offers all of its alumni and PhD students a professionalizing course in business management to complete their curriculum.

The Doctoral College

Sorbonne University's graduation ceremony, May 2011

Since 2010, every PhD student is being delivered an honorary diploma labeled Sorbonne University. This diploma highlights and gathers the skills of the doctors and researchers from the institutions that form Sorbonne University.

The Sorbonne Doctoral College, created in 2013, coordinates the activities of the 26 doctoral schools. Since 2014, it has developed cross-disciplinary PhDs between the different members of the Sorbonne University group.

Sorbonne University's doctoral schools
Fields Doctoral school Institution
Énergie, matière, univers Chimie physique & chimie analytique de Paris centre
Physique et chimie des matériaux
Chimie moléculaire de Paris centre
Astronomie et astrophysique
Sciences de la Terre et physique de l'univers
Physique en Ile-de-France
Modélisation et ingénierie Informatique, télécommunications & électronique
Sciences mathématiques de Paris centre
Sciences mécaniques, acoustique, électronique et robotique
Terre vivante et environnement Sciences de l’environnement
Géosciences, ressources naturelles et environnement
Sciences de la nature et de l'homme : écologie et évolution
Vie et santé Cerveau, cognition, comportement
Santé publique & sciences de l’information biomédicale
Physiologie, physiopathologie et thérapeutique
Complexité du vivant
Histoire-Géographie École doctorale de géographie de Paris
Histoire de l’art et archéologie Paris-Sorbonne
Histoire moderne et contemporaine
Mondes anciens et médiévaux
Langues, lettres et civilisations Littératures françaises et comparée
Civilisations, cultures et sociétés
Concepts et Langage

Since 2011, Sorbonne University celebrate its graduates in a formal ceremony where every PhD graduate wears a scholar uniform.[12]


To strengthen the influence of its research infrastructures on the international scale, Sorbonne University has developed several research programs aiming at reinforcing or exploring new fields of study. This innovative cross-disciplinary approach was embodied with the creation of four new academic positions gathering several establishments of the group:[13]

  • A Department of Digital Humanities, exploring the use of digital technologies in the social science
  • A Department of Polychromatic Studies of Societies, associating architecture, anthropology, chemical physics, literature and art history
  • A Department of Digital Health, exploring biomedical tools
  • A Department of 3D Craniofacial Reconstruction

Sorbonne University has formed with academic institutions such as the China Scholarship Council or the Brazilian foundation FAPERJ several partnerships enabling bilateral research programs.

Sorbonne University is a member of LERU - League of European Research Universities - which gathers 23 european universities such as Cambridge and Oxford[14].


Scientific collections

The Sorbonne University houses eight notable scientific collections that are open to researchers.[15] Some collections are open to the public as noted.

  • Minerals – over 1500 minerals on display in 24 cases, open to the public
  • Physics experiments models – models built by professors from the Sorbonne and UPMC in order to demonstrate different principles of physics
  • Zoology – teaching collection of stuffed specimens, skeletal mounts, fluid parts, anatomical casts and insect boxes
  • Paleontology – research collection of fossil invertebrates
  • G. Lippmann collection – Research collection of 46 photographic plates created by Gabriel Lippmann in his studies of photography and the physics of light
  • Charcot library – Research collection of the personal library of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot
  • Paleobotany – Research collection of Fossil plants
  • Musée Dupuytren – moved from Cordeliers, will be open to the public occasionally, features wax anatomical items and preserved specimens illustrating diseases and malformations.

University rankings

Only the former universities have been ranked.

UPMC is often ranked as the best university in France.[16] In 2014 UPMC was ranked 35th in the world, 6th in Europe and 1st in France by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.[17] It was ranked 4th in the world in the field of mathematics by the same study. The 2013 QS World University Rankings[18] ranked the university 112th overall in the world and 3rd in France. In 2013, according to University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP),[19] Pierre and Marie Curie University is the 1st ranked university in France and 44th ranked university in the world. The UPMC is a member of Sorbonne Universités.[20]

Paris-Sorbonne is ranked 222 in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2015. By faculty, it was ranked 9 in modern languages, 36 in arts and humanities (1st in France), and 127 in social sciences and management (5th in France).[21] By academic reputation, it was ranked 80 (2nd in France), according to the QS World University Rankings, and 2nd in overall highest international reputation of all academic institutions in France, according to the Times Higher Education 2015.[22][23] In 2014 Paris-Sorbonne ranked 227 in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings, 115 for Social Sciences and Management, 33 for Arts and Humanities.[23]


  1. ^ "Association Sorbonne Université". Association Sorbonne Université. Retrieved 2018-01-01. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  2. ^ "Décret n° 2017-596 du 21 avril 2017 portant création de l'université Sorbonne Université". Journal officiel de la République française. 23 April 2017.
  3. ^ French National Agency of Evaluation of Higher education institutions, p. 65
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ [Éléad, Les cursus sélectifs des grandes universités parisiennes , les doubles licences
  11. ^ (in French) « La Sorbonne université d’élite et de masse: entretien avec Barthélémy Jobert, président de l’université Paris Sorbonne », Le
  12. ^ (in French) « Sorbonne Universités célèbre ses docteurs... à l'américaine »,, 17 mai 2011
  13. ^ (in French) Presentation of Sorbonne University's new academic positions]
  14. ^ Ligue Européenne des Universités de Recherche (LERU).
  15. ^ "Patrimoine scientifique" (in French). UPMC. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Best global universities".
  17. ^ "World University Rankings – 2013 – France Universities in Top 500 universities – Academic Ranking of World Universities – 2013 – Shanghai Ranking – 2013". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  18. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2013". Top Universities. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  19. ^ "URAP – University Ranking by Academic Performance".
  20. ^ Institutions – – Results of University Rankings Archived 15 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  21. ^ "QS World University Rankings Arts & Humanities 2013 Results". Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  22. ^ "Cinq universités françaises parmi les plus réputées au monde". 2015-03-11. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  23. ^ a b "Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) Rankings". Top Universities. Retrieved 2016-11-13.


External links