Paris Sciences et Lettres University

Coordinates: 48°51′16.8″N 2°20′16.1″E / 48.854667°N 2.337806°E / 48.854667; 2.337806
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Université Paris Sciences et Lettres
Université PSL

MottoSapere Aude
Motto in English
Dare to know
TypeResearch and Higher Education Institution
Established2010 (1530 for its oldest constituent college, the Collège de France)
Endowment€750 million
PresidentAlain Fuchs
Academic staff
48°51′16.8″N 2°20′16.1″E / 48.854667°N 2.337806°E / 48.854667; 2.337806
CampusQuartier latin, Campus Condorcet, Jourdan, Porte Dauphine, Meudon

Paris Sciences et Lettres University (PSL University or simply PSL) is a public research university based in Paris, France. It was established in 2010 and formally created as a university in 2019.[1] It is a collegiate university with 11 constituent schools, with the oldest founded in 1530. PSL is located in central Paris, with its main sites in the Latin Quarter, at the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève campus, at the Jourdan campus, at Porte Dauphine, and at Carré Richelieu.

PSL awards Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD diplomas for its constituent schools and institutes. It offers an education based on research and interdisciplinary instruction, and its 17,000 students have access to a broad range of disciplines in science, engineering, humanities, social sciences, fine art and performing arts.

PSL alumni and staff include 28 Nobel laureates, 11 Fields Medalists, 3 Abel laureates, 49 CNRS Gold Medalists, 50 César winners and 79 Molière winners.[2][3]


Collège de France, one leading college of PSL University

In 2004, institutions in the Latin Quarter began thinking of how to join forces to boost their international visibility. The French law on research promulgated in 2006, which encouraged the formation of research networks (in various forms including PRES and RTRA), paved the way for new projects such as Paris Universitas, PRES ParisTech and an early version of the PSL project. This new organization combined five institutions of higher education in the Latin Quarter: Chimie ParisTech, Collège de France, École normale supérieure (Paris), École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI Paris), and Observatoire de Paris.[4] Together, they adopted the status of a scientific cooperation foundation (FCS) (fr). The new entity, called "Paris Sciences et Lettres – Quartier Latin", was initially conceived as a scientific alliance.[5][6] In 2011, the five institutions submitted a joint application for the Initiatives for Excellence (IDEX) as part of France's Investing for the Future program (PIA), causing the project to evolve into a new form of French university. This university would have 70% of its students at the Master's and PhD level and offer a Bachelor's program, with an emphasis on equal opportunity students (40% scholarship students in the CPES multidisciplinary preparatory class).

Dauphine, college of PSL University


Between 2011 and 2012, ten new institutions joined the foundation: Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique, Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, La Fémis, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Foundation for Research, Institut Curie, Institut Louis-Bachelier, MINES ParisTech and Université Paris-Dauphine.[7]

Their arrival reinforced PSL's scientific potential in the fields of engineering, biology, the arts, and management. In 2014, another four institutions specializing in humanities and social science joined the association: École Française d'Extrême-Orient, École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), École Nationale des Chartes, and École Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE).[8]
In 2015, PSL organized itself into a university community (ComUE: PSL Research University).[9] PSL began awarding PhDs at that point.

"Investing for the Future" program[edit]

In 2010, the French government launched a call for proposals to boost higher education: the Investing for the Future program (also called the grand emprunt). PSL has successfully responded to several calls for proposals. In 2011, with the Initiatives for Excellence call for proposals, PSL was one of the first three projects selected,[10][11] along with Université de Bordeaux and Université de Strasbourg.[12]

While the diversity of project participants has sometimes been cited as a weakness, the promoters of PSL underline the complementarity of its institutions and the potential for collaboration.[13] The funding of the Excellence Initiative has, in addition, supported the creation of 11 Laboratories of excellence (Labex) within PSL: CelTisPhyBio, DCBIOL, DEEP, DYNAMO, ENS-ICFP, ESEP, IEC, IPGG, MemoLife, TransferS, and WIFI. In 2014, the Corail, HaStec, and TEPSIS Labex laboratories joined the list with EHESS and EPHE becoming members of PSL. Also in 2011, PSL's institutions presented ten projects under the "Equipped with excellence" (Equipex) program. Among the initial submissions, they obtained eight Equipex facilities: BEDOFIH, D-FIH, Equip@Meso, ICGex, IPGG, Paris-en-Resonnance, Planaqua, Ultrabrain. These projects have received funding ranging from 2 to 10 million euros.

In 2017, after a detailed review process, nine institutions agreed to put in place an integrated budget and a multi-year strategy for academic recruitment, as well as to create a number of shared platforms and services. Chimie ParisTech, École Nationale des Chartes, École Normale Supérieure, École Pratique des Hautes Etudes, ESPCI Paris, Institut Curie, Observatoire de Paris, MINES ParisTech, Université Paris-Dauphine decided to jointly form Université PSL. The agreement approved by their respective boards calls for the schools and institutions that form the university to adopt a unified strategy, to submit to the budgetary authority of the president of the university, to jointly plan their recruitment, and to transfer the whole of their diplomas to PSL. Towards the end of the process, in 2018, one of the former members, EHESS, did not approve the new statutes and decided not to be part of the target University.[14]

Beaux-Arts de Paris, Collège de France, Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique, Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, École Française d'Extrême-Orient, École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, La Fémis, Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique and Institut Louis Bachelier are recognized as associates of the university pending later integration.

University status (2019)[edit]

In December 2018, an opportunity to formally create a full University arose with a new Ordonnance (ordinance)[15] allowing to create a collegiate university, whose constituents may keep their legal personality,[16] similar to British collegiate universities like Oxford and Cambridge.

In November 2019, a decree creating Université PSL as a collegiate university, together with the new statutes of the University, is published.[1] A few changes had occurred in the list of constituents, with nine institutions approving the new statutes and becoming établissement-composante (constituent colleges): Chimie ParisTech, Conservatoire national supérieur d'art dramatique, École Nationale des Chartes, École normale supérieure, École pratique des hautes études, ESPCI Paris, Observatoire de Paris, MINES ParisTech, Paris Dauphine. Additionally, College de France and Institut Curie became associate members, participating closely in the governance of the University. Associate members contribute to the strategy of the University, receive financial resources from PSL University and may carry scientific programs on behalf and by delegation thereof.

Organisation and administration[edit]

PSL is a collegiate university (17,000 students). It consists of 11 constituent schools, with plans to gradually expand to include some or all other associate colleges.[17] Three national research organisations (CNRS, Inserm, Inria) are involved in governance and help to define PSL's strategy, with which they coordinate their own strategies.

Constituent colleges[edit]

Name Foundation[18] Type Field Students Campus
École nationale supérieure de chimie 1896 Grande école Engineering 300 Paris
Conservatoire national supérieur d'art dramatique 1784 Grande école Drama 100 Paris
École normale supérieure 1794 Grande école Science and Human science 2,400 Paris
École Pratique des Hautes Études 1868 Grand établissement Earth and Life Sciences, Historical and Philological Sciences, and Religious Sciences 2,000 Paris
École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles 1882 Grande école Engineering 360 Paris
École nationale des chartes 1821 Grande école Historical science 170 Paris
École nationale supérieure des mines 1783 Grande école Engineering 1500 Paris
Observatoire de Paris 1667 Grand établissement Science, Astrophysics 150 Paris, Meudon, Nançay
Paris-Dauphine University c. 1150 (University of Paris), 1968 Grande école, Grand établissement Mathematics, Computer Science, Management, Economics, Finance, Law, Political Science, Journalism 10,000 Paris
Collège de France 1530 Grand établissement Sciences, Arts and Letters Latin Quarter
Curie Institute 1920 Governmental organisation Science, Medicine

Associate colleges[edit]

Name Foundation[18] Type Field Students Campus
École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts 1817 Grande école Arts 530 Paris
École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO) 1900 Research institute Culture Paris
École nationale d'administration (ENA) 1945 Grande école Public Administration 533 Strasbourg
École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs 1766 Grande école Art and design 700 Paris
École nationale supérieure des métiers de l'Image et du Son (La Fémis) 1943 Grande école Film and television 230 Paris
Lycée Henri-IV 1796 Secondary school 1,948 Paris
Institut Louis Bachelier 2008 Organization Economics and science Paris
ENSA Paris-Malaquais 1968 Grande école Architecture Paris


The current president is Alain Fuchs. He took over the position from Thierry Coulhon in 2017, when Coulhon was appointed advisor to the French President in charge of Education, Higher Education, and Research.

  • 2012–2014: Monique Canto-Sperber, previously director of ENS, founder and first president of PSL[19]
  • September 2014 – February 2015 (acting) Romain Soubeyran, director of MINES ParisTech
  • 2014–2017: Thierry Coulhon, previously director of the Mathematical Sciences Institute at Australian National University in Canberra[20]
  • June – October 2017 (acting) Marc Mézard, director of ENS[21]
  • 2017 – present: Alain Fuchs, previously president of CNRS[22]


PSL is administered by a Board of Directors chaired by the PSL president. It relies on the recommendations of an Academic Council and a Strategic Steering Committee. The executive organ of the university is the Executive Committee (the president, vice-presidents, and deans), supported by the Council of Members.


PSL offers education from undergraduate to doctoral level, across all academic disciplines, including life sciences, physical sciences, humanities and social sciences, creative arts, economics, administration and management.

All of PSL's institutions have adopted a model of education through research.

École normale supérieure, PSL University

Undergraduate programs[edit]

PSL and the Lycée Henri IV, along with Mines ParisTech, ESPCI Paris, Paris Dauphine University, Paris Observatory, Ecole normale supérieure and Lycée Louis-le-Grand have implemented a three-year undergraduate program : CPES Multidisciplinary undergraduate course.[23]

At Université Paris-Dauphine, a constituent of Université PSL, bachelor's degrees are available for students in the following fields: management, economics and finance, accounting, applied mathematics, computing, journalism (IPJ-Dauphine).

Mines ParisTech, PSL University

Sustainable Development Goals[edit]

PSL is co-leader of the SDSN Network for France, under the initiative of the United Nations.,[24] together with Kedge Business School and Universite Cergy-Pontoise. In this context, Université PSL is promoting that all students shall have access to courses related to climate, biodiversity and sustainability.

PSL has launched in 2020 a bachelor program dedicated to sustainability sciences.

PSL organizes a yearly summer school open to European students, to help understand the challenges of sustainable development: the European School of Positive Impact and Responsibility (ESPOIR).[25]

ESPCI Paris, PSL University

Graduate education[edit]

Université PSL offers training programs for graduate students through its constituent schools in a broad array of disciplines: engineering, fine and applied arts, management, economics, biology, humanities and social sciences, astronomy.

The first post-graduate/Master programme to be created under the umbrella of PSL between l'Université Paris-Dauphine and the Ecole normale supérieure, was the specialization Peace Studies launched in 2014 within the Master of International affairs and development.[26]

École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, PSL University

Doctoral programs[edit]

More than 70% of PSL students are at the Master's or PhD level. University PSL Graduate Programs are inspired by the graduate schools that can be found in most of the world's research universities. The first two programs of this kind are a Graduate program in the Humanities (Translitterae) and a PhD program in Cognitive science (FrontCog).

SACRe Doctoral program[edit]

The "Science Art Creation Research" (SACRe) doctoral program aims at developing new fields of research by exploring the interfaces between the arts, and between arts and science (hard sciences as well as the humanities and social sciences). The program implements a new kind of PhD in Art strongly articulating practice and theoretical thinking. It brings together, along with the Ecole normale supérieure, five French schools of creative and performing arts: CNSAD (French professional acting school), Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (dance, music and sound design), École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, La Fémis.[27]

Observatoire de Paris, PSL University


PSL hosts some 140 laboratories, 2,900 research and teaching staff, and about 100 ERC grants. The scientific research strategy is organised around a core of discipline-specific programs and interdisciplinary programs such as the laboratories of excellence (Labex) (fr) and the Interdisciplinary and Strategic Research Initiatives. Examples of interdisciplinary programs are Scripta (History and practices of writing),[28] the OCAV program (Origins and Conditions for the Emergence of Life),[29] or the Q-Life Institute.

PSL's research landscape includes the following research fields: law, economics, and business administration; literature, literary theory, and philosophy; aesthetics and art theory; life and health sciences; area studies; energy and engineering; physics; chemistry; history; anthropology; informatics and data science; mathematics; materials science and soft matter science; cognitive science; sociology; earth and space science; religious studies; archaeology and heritage science.

International rankings[edit]

University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[30]40 (2022)
CWUR World[31]19 (2022–2023)
QS World[32]26 (2023)
THE World[33]47 (2023)

The first recognition of PSL's existence as an integrated university came in 2017, when it appeared on the Times Higher Education ranking in 72rd place globally and 1st place in France, and 41st place globally in 2018.[34][35][36]

In 2020, PSL University appears for the first time in two other major university rankings: CWTS Leiden Ranking and ARWU: in the Shanghai ranking[37] it is ranked 36th and 2nd French University behind Paris-Saclay University. In ARWU Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (also known as Shanghai Ranking by Subjects) University PSL is ranked among the best world universities in 39 of the 54 subjects, e.g., 10th in the world for Mathematics and for Physics, and 12th in Ecology.

In 2022, Université PSL is ranked first in the Young University Rankings 2022.[38]


International in scope, PSL has cultivated framework agreements with the University of Cambridge, UCL, EPFL, Columbia, Berkeley, NYU, Technion, ANU, Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong, National Taiwan University, Tsinghua University, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.[39]

PSL Symphonic Orchestra and Choir[edit]

The PSL Orchestra and Choir is a choral symphonic ensemble open to all members of the Université PSL community. PSL Orchestra and Choir's musical season consists of five different programs and incorporates contemporary work from different countries.[40]

Nobel and Fields laureates[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Business leaders



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  2. ^ "Sapere Aude | PSL". Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  3. ^ "PSL Quick facts | PSL". Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Cinq grandes écoles parisiennes créent une fondation". Le Monde. 16 April 2010.
  5. ^ l'Etudiant/EducPros, ed. (19 April 2010). "Fondation "Paris sciences et lettres": cinq grandes écoles s'unissent dans le Quartier latin". Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Décret du 8 juillet 2010 portant approbation des statuts de la fondation de coopération scientifique " Paris Sciences et Lettres – Quartier latin "". JORF (158): 12809. 10 July 2010..
  7. ^ "L'université Paris-Dauphine intègre le PRES "Paris Sciences et Lettres"". 21 June 2011.
  8. ^ "L'EHESS choisit Paris Sciences et Lettres". 1 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Décret n° 2015-408 du 10 avril 2015 portant approbation des statuts de la communauté d'universités et établissements " Université de recherche Paris sciences et lettres – PSL Research University "". Journal officiel de la République française (n°0086): 6592. 12 April 2015..
  10. ^ Sylvie Lecherbonnier et Camille Stromboni (24 March 2011). letudiant (ed.). "Confidentiel – IDEX : Paris Sciences et Lettres et Sorbonne Universités seraient les deux projets franciliens retenue".
  11. ^ Marie Bartnik (5 July 2011). "Paris sciences et lettres vise à valoriser la recherche". Le Figaro.
  12. ^ Agence France Presse (4 July 2011). "Grand emprunt/Idex: 3 projets choisis". Le Figaro.
  13. ^ "Rapport officiel de l'évaluation de Psl par le jury Idex" (PDF). 9 May 2016.
  14. ^ "EducPros: EHESS will not be a member". 17 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Legislating by Ordinance: a standard democratic procedure".
  16. ^ "Ordonnance n° 2018-1131 du 12 décembre 2018 relative à l'expérimentation de nouvelles formes de rapprochement, de regroupement ou de fusion des établissements d'enseignement supérieur et de recherche". 13 December 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  17. ^ "Université PSL".
  18. ^ a b Foundation of the oldest constituent part of the school
  19. ^ Floc'h Benoît (22 February 2012). "Monique Canto-Sperber quitte Normale sup pour la fondation " Paris Sciences et Lettres "".
  20. ^ Céline Authemayou (19 June 2017). "Thierry Coulhon, conseiller enseignement supérieur et recherche à l'Élysée".
  21. ^ Céline Authemayou (24 May 2017). "Marc Mézard, président par intérim de PSL".
  22. ^ Le Figaro: Un nouveau président pour PSL – 6 October 2017 Read online
  23. ^ Adrien de Tricornot (7 October 2015). "Entre fac et prépa, un nouveau cursus pour étudiants curieux de tout". Le Monde Campus.
  24. ^ "SDSN France". February 2020.
  25. ^ "European Summer School on Positive Impact and Responsibility (ESPOIR)".
  26. ^ "Accueil | Université Paris Dauphine-PSL".
  27. ^ Assma Maad (16 October 2012). "SACRe, un doctorat inédit alliant sciences et arts". Le Figaro économie.
  28. ^ "Scripta | PSL".
  29. ^ "Origines et conditions d'apparition de la vie – IRIS Université PSL".
  30. ^ "2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities".
  31. ^ "Center for World University Rankings 2022–2023".
  32. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2023".
  33. ^ "World University Rankings 2023". 12 October 2022.
  34. ^ Times Higher Education: Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris archive
  35. ^ "France is again listed in the Top 50 of the Times Higher Education ranking". Campus France.
  36. ^ Le Monde 19 juin 2017 : Classement THE 2017 de la réputation des établissements : la France recule Read on line
  37. ^ "ShanghaiRanking Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020 Press Release". ShanghaiRanking (ARWU). 15 August 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  38. ^ "Young University Rankings 2022: results announced". 15 February 2022. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  39. ^ "PSL Worldwide | PSL". Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  40. ^ Jonathan Scott in Le Parisien: Paris / New York, 2015 archive
  41. ^ "Anne Rigail". Bloomberg News.

External links[edit]