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École Polytechnique

École Polytechnique

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The École Polytechnique (commonly known as Polytechnique or, in France, by the nickname X) is a state-run institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau
Palaiseau
Palaiseau is a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris. Palaiseau is a sub-prefecture of the Essonne department and the seat of the Arrondissement of Palaiseau....

, Essonne
Essonne
Essonne is a French department in the region of Île-de-France. It is named after the Essonne River.It was formed on 1 January 1968 when Seine-et-Oise was split into smaller departments.- History :...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, near Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Polytechnique is renowned for its four year undergraduate/graduate Master's program
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

. Called the Ingénieur Polytechnicien (polytechnic engineer) program, this attracts the strongest students from the two-year post-secondary-school science and math preparatory programs for the grandes écoles
Grandes écoles
The grandes écoles of France are higher education establishments outside the main framework of the French university system. The grandes écoles select students for admission based chiefly on national ranking in competitive written and oral exams...

, provides those who pass the famously selective entrance exam with a broad scientific education, and opens the way for many of them to careers in positions of influence in government, industry, finance, and research. In addition to the 2000 polytechnic engineer students (of which only 1000 study on campus), there are 200 students pursuing two-year Master's degrees and 500 doctoral students, for a relatively small total enrollment of 2700.

Polytechnique was established during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 in 1794 by Gaspard Monge
Gaspard Monge
Gaspard Monge, Comte de Péluse was a French mathematician, revolutionary, and was inventor of descriptive geometry. During the French Revolution, he was involved in the complete reorganization of the educational system, founding the École Polytechnique...

, it became a military school under Napoleon in 1804. It is still under the control of French Ministry of Defence today. Initially, the school was located in the Latin Quarter of central Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, and it moved to Palaiseau
Palaiseau
Palaiseau is a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris. Palaiseau is a sub-prefecture of the Essonne department and the seat of the Arrondissement of Palaiseau....

 on the Saclay Plateau about 14 km (8.7 mi) southwest of Paris in 1976. It is a founding member of the ParisTech
ParisTech
ParisTech the Paris Institute of Technology is one of the collegiate universities in France. It gathers 11 of the best French engineering schools, covering nearly the whole spectrum of engineering science, and 1 business school, aiming to be of comparable status to the most famous universities of...

 grouping of leading Paris-area engineering schools, established in 2007.

Polytechnique is one of the grandes écoles
Grandes écoles
The grandes écoles of France are higher education establishments outside the main framework of the French university system. The grandes écoles select students for admission based chiefly on national ranking in competitive written and oral exams...

that have traditionally prepared technocrats to lead French government and industry, and has been one of the most privileged routes into the elite divisions of the civil service known as the grands corps de l'état. This role is evolving. Since 1995, Polytechnique has admitted a significant number of international applicants to its polytechnic engineer program, and 20% of each cohort are now foreign students. The portion of graduates pursuing further university education, such as a second Master's degree or a doctorate, rather than entering the French civil service, has been growing in recent years to over 30%.

History


The École has more than 200 years of tradition:
  • 1794: The École centrale des travaux publics is founded by Lazare Carnot
    Lazare Carnot
    Lazare Nicolas Marguerite, Comte Carnot , the Organizer of Victory in the French Revolutionary Wars, was a French politician, engineer, and mathematician.-Education and early life:...

     and Gaspard Monge
    Gaspard Monge
    Gaspard Monge, Comte de Péluse was a French mathematician, revolutionary, and was inventor of descriptive geometry. During the French Revolution, he was involved in the complete reorganization of the educational system, founding the École Polytechnique...

    , during the French Revolution
    French Revolution
    The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

    , at the time of the National Convention
    National Convention
    During the French Revolution, the National Convention or Convention, in France, comprised the constitutional and legislative assembly which sat from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795 . It held executive power in France during the first years of the French First Republic...

    . It is renamed “École Polytechnique” one year later.
  • 1805: Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte settles the École on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève
    Montagne Sainte-Geneviève
    The Montagne Sainte-Geneviève is a hill on the left Bank of the Seine in the 5th arrondissement of Paris.On the top of the Montagne, one can visit the Panthéon or the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, which is often full of students from La Sorbonne and other nearby universities...

    , in the Quartier Latin, in central Paris (48.847747°N 2.349043°W), as a military academy and gives its motto Pour la Patrie, les Sciences et la Gloire (For the Nation, science and glory).
  • 1814: Students took part in the fights to defend Paris
    Paris
    Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

     from the Prussia
    Prussia
    Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

    ns.
  • 1830: Fifty students participated the July Revolution
    July Revolution
    The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution or in French, saw the overthrow of King Charles X of France, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would in turn be overthrown...

    .
  • 1914–1918: Students are mobilised and the school is transformed into a hospital. More than two hundred students were killed during the war.
  • 1939–1945: Polytechnique is moved away to Lyon in the free zone. More than four hundred polytechnicians died for France during the Second World War (Free French, French Resistance
    French Resistance
    The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

    , Nazi camps
    Nazi concentration camps
    Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

    ).
  • 1970: The École becomes a state supported civilian institution, under the auspice of the Ministry of Defence.
  • 1972: Women are admitted to Polytechnique for the first time.
  • 1976: The École moves from Paris to Palaiseau (approx 25 km / 15 miles from Paris)
  • 1985: The École starts delivering Ph.D. degrees.
  • 1994: Celebration of the bicentennial chaired by President François Mitterrand
    François Mitterrand
    François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

  • 2000: A new cursus is set in place, passing to 4 years and reforming the polytechnicien curriculum
  • 2005: The École starts delivering Master's degrees.
  • 2007: The École is a founding member of UniverSud Paris
    UniverSud Paris
    UniverSud Paris is one of the PRES ) in France. It gathers 21 Public universities, Grandes Écoles and National Research Center, covering nearly the whole spectrum of sciences .-History:...

     and ParisTech
    ParisTech
    ParisTech the Paris Institute of Technology is one of the collegiate universities in France. It gathers 11 of the best French engineering schools, covering nearly the whole spectrum of engineering science, and 1 business school, aiming to be of comparable status to the most famous universities of...

    .

Locations



Early locations


In 1794, Polytechnique was initially hosted in the Palais Bourbon
Palais Bourbon
The Palais Bourbon, , a palace located on the left bank of the Seine, across from the Place de la Concorde, Paris , is the seat of the French National Assembly, the lower legislative chamber of the French government.-History:...

. One year later, it moved to Hôtel de Lassay, an hôtel particulier
Hôtel particulier
In French contexts an hôtel particulier is an urban "private house" of a grand sort. Whereas an ordinary maison was built as part of a row, sharing party walls with the houses on either side and directly fronting on a street, an hôtel particulier was often free-standing, and by the 18th century it...

 in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.

Military status


Polytechnique is a higher education establishment run under the supervision of the French ministry of Defence, through the General Delegation for Ordnance (administratively speaking, it is a national public establishment of an administrative character).

Though no longer a military academy
Military academy
A military academy or service academy is an educational institution which prepares candidates for service in the officer corps of the army, the navy, air force or coast guard, which normally provides education in a service environment, the exact definition depending on the country concerned.Three...

, it is headed by a general
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

, and employs military personnel in executive, administrative and sport training positions. Both male and female French undergraduate polytechniciens are regular officers and have to go through a period of military training before the start of studies.

However, the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 aspects of the school have lessened with time, with a reduced period of preliminary military training, and fewer and fewer students pursuing careers as military officers after leaving the school. On special occasions, such as the military parade on the Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strip of real estate in the world. The name is...

 on Bastille Day
Bastille Day
Bastille Day is the name given in English-speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on 14 July of each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale and commonly le quatorze juillet...

, the polytechniciens wear the 19th-century-style “grand uniform”, with the famous bicorne
Bicorne
The bicorne or bicorn is an archaic form of hat widely adopted in the 1790s as an item of uniform by European and American military and naval officers...

, or cocked hat, but students have not typically worn a uniform on campus since the elimination of the “internal uniform” in the mid-1980s.

Activities and teaching staff


Polytechnique has a combined undergraduate-graduate general engineering teaching curriculum as well as a graduate school. In addition to the faculty coming from its local laboratories, it employs many researchers and professors from other institutions, including other CNRS, INRIA and CEA laboratories as well as the École Normale Supérieure
École Normale Supérieure
The École normale supérieure is one of the most prestigious French grandes écoles...

 and nearby institutions such as the École Supérieure d'Électricité
Supélec
École Supérieure d'Électricité, commonly known as Supélec, is a French Graduate School of Engineering delivering the equivalent of a Master's Degree as well as Ph.D opportunities. It is one of the most prestigious and selective Grandes Ecoles in France, and a reference in the field of electric...

 (Supélec), the Institut d'Optique
École supérieure d'optique
The École supérieure d'optique , nicknamed "SupOptique", is the leading French grande école in the field of optics and its industrial and scientific applications, and a member of the prestigious UniverSud Paris and ParisTech...

 or the Université Paris-Sud
Paris-Sud 11 University
University of Paris-Sud or University of Paris-Sud or University of Paris XI is a French university distributed among several campuses in the southern suburb of Paris...

, creating a varied and high-level teaching environment.

Contrary to French public universities, the teaching staff at Polytechnique are not civil servants (fonctionnaires) but contract employees operating under regulations different from those governing university professors. An originality of Polytechnique is that in addition to full-time teaching staff (exercice complet), who do research at the École in addition to a full teaching service, there are partial-time teaching staff (exercice incomplet) who do not do research on behalf of the École and carry only a partial teaching load. Part-time teaching staff are often recruited from research institutions (CNRS, CEA, INRIA...) operating inside the École campus, in the Paris region, or even sometimes elsewhere in France.

Academic Profile



The Polytechnicien studies


The Polytechnicien program is broader than typical French university studies, often including topics beyond one's specialty. This focus on breadth rather than depth has been hotly debated over the years, but it nevertheless forms a characteristic of the Polytechnicien program. It is particularly useful for cross fertilization purposes between different fields, as graduates from Polytechnique most often have abilities in several disciplines; for example, they must follow at least six different topics during their second year. Humanities and sports are also mandatory parts of the curriculum, adding to the differences with most French university programs.

Admission


The admission to Polytechnique in polytechnicien cycle is made through a very selective entrance examination, and requires at least two years of preparation after high school in classes préparatoires. Admission includes a week of written examinations during the spring followed by oral examinations that are handled in batches (séries) over the summer.

About 400 French students are admitted each year. Foreign students, having followed a classe préparatoire curriculum (generally, French residents or students from former French colonies in Africa) can also enter through the same competitive exam (they are known as “EV1”). Foreign students can also apply through a “second track” (“EV2”) following undergraduate studies. In total, there are about 100 foreign students each year and 64 nationalities are represented. Most of them come from Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 but some also from Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, Malaysia and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Finally, some foreign students come for a single year from other top institutions in Europe and the United States.

Curriculum


Four years of study are required for the engineering degree: one year of military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 and scientific "common trunk" (respectively 8 months and 4 months), one year of pluridisciplinary studies, and one year of specialized studies (“majors”). With the X2000 reform, a fourth year of studies, in another institution than Polytechnique, was introduced.

First year
The curriculum begins with 8 months during which French students undergo civilian or military service. In the past, military service lasted 12 months and was compulsory for all French students; the suppression of the draft
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 in France made this requirement of Polytechnique somewhat anachronistic, and the service was recast as a period of “human and military formation”. All the French students spend one month together in La Courtine
La Courtine
La Courtine is a commune in the Creuse department in the Limousin region in central France.-Geography:An area of lakes, forestry and farming comprising the village and several hamlets situated in the Creuse River valley, some south of Aubusson, at the junction of the D25, D29 and the D992...

 in a military training center. By the end of this month, they are assigned either to a civilian service or to the Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

, Navy
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

, Air Force
French Air Force
The French Air Force , literally Army of the Air) is the air force of the French Armed Forces. It was formed in 1909 as the Service Aéronautique, a service arm of the French Army, then was made an independent military arm in 1933...

 or Gendarmerie
Gendarmerie
A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military force charged with police duties among civilian populations. Members of such a force are typically called "gendarmes". The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary describes a gendarme as "a soldier who is employed on police duties" and a "gendarmery, -erie" as...

. Students who are assigned to a military service complete a two-month military training in French officer schools such as Saint-Cyr
École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr
The École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr is the foremost French military academy. Its official name is . It is often referred to as Saint-Cyr . Its motto is "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre": literally "They study to vanquish" or "Training for victory"...

 or École Navale
École Navale
The École Navale is the French Naval Academy in charge of the education of the officers of the French Navy.The academy was founded in 1830 by the order of King Louis-Philippe...

. Finally, they are spread out over a wide range of units for a five month long assignment to a French military unit (which can include, but is not limited to, infantry and artillery regiments, naval ships and air bases).
While French students stay under military status during their studies at Polytechnique, and participate in a variety of ceremonies and other military events, for example national ceremonies, such as those of Bastille Day or anniversaries of the armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

s of the World War
World war
A world war is a war affecting the majority of the world's most powerful and populous nations. World wars span multiple countries on multiple continents, with battles fought in multiple theaters....

s, they do not undergo military training per se after having completed their service in the first year. They receive at the end of the first year the full dress uniform, which comprises black trousers with a red strip (a skirt for females), a coat with brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

 buttons and a belt, a small sword
Small sword
The small sword or smallsword is a light one-handed sword designed for thrusting which evolved out of the longer and heavier rapier of the late Renaissance. The height of the small sword's popularity was between mid 17th and late 18th century...

 and a cocked hat (officially called a bicorne
Bicorne
The bicorne or bicorn is an archaic form of hat widely adopted in the 1790s as an item of uniform by European and American military and naval officers...

).

Francophone foreign students do a civilian service. Civilian service can, for instance, consist of being an assistant in a high school in a disadvantaged French suburb.

Then, a four-month period begins in which all students take the same five courses: Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science and Economics.

Second year
The second year is a year of pluridisciplinary studies. The set of disciplines spans most areas of science (mathematics, applied mathematics, mechanics, computing science, biology, physics, chemistry, economics) and some areas in the humanities (foreign languages, general humanities...). Students have to choose 8 courses in at least 6 different disciplines.

Third year
In the third year, students have to choose an in-depth program (programme d'approfondissement), which often focuses on a discipline or sometimes an interdisciplinary subject. This year is ended by a research internship (3 months to 5 months).

Fourth year
The fourth year is the beginning of more specialized studies: students not entering a Corps de l'État must join either a Master's program, a doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 program, another ParisTech
ParisTech
ParisTech the Paris Institute of Technology is one of the collegiate universities in France. It gathers 11 of the best French engineering schools, covering nearly the whole spectrum of engineering science, and 1 business school, aiming to be of comparable status to the most famous universities of...

 college or institute such as the École des Mines de Paris or ENSAE
École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique
The École nationale de la statistique et de l'administration économique or ENSAE is one of the French Grandes Ecoles of engineering and a member of ParisTech ....

, or a specialization institute such as Supaéro in Toulouse or ENSPM
IFP School
The IFP School is a graduate engineering school located in Rueil-Malmaison, France. Founded in 1954, IFP School is part of the IFP Energies Nouvelles, French Institute of Petroleum , a French public-sector research and training center...

 in Rueil-Malmaison. The reason for this is that the generic education given at Polytechnique is more focused on developing thinking skills than preparing for the transition to an actual engineering occupation, which requires further technical education.
Increasingly, students chose to spend their fourth year studying in a foreign university. About a quarter of 3rd year students chose this path in 2008. American universities are a favourite, but the Ecole Polytechnique has agreements with universities in a large set of countries.

Class rank and career path


Grades of the second year of the curriculum are used to rank the students. Traditionally, this exit ranking of the school had a very high importance, and some peculiarities of the organizations of studies and grading can be traced to the need for a fair playing ground between students.

For French nationals, the ranking is actually part of a government recruitment program: a certain number of seats in civil or military Corps, including elite civil servant Corps such as the Corps des Mines, are open to the student body each year. At some point during their course of study, students specify a list of Corps that they would like to enter in order of preference, and they are enrolled into the highest one according to their ranking. The next stepping stone for Polytechnique graduates, or polytechniciens, on this path is to enter one of four technical civil service training schools: the École des Mines
École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris
The École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris was created in 1783 by King Louis XVI in order to train intelligent directors of mines. It is one of the most prominent French engineering schoolsThe École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (also known as Mines ParisTech, École des Mines de...

, the École des Ponts et Chaussées
École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées
Founded in 1747, the École nationale des ponts et chaussées , often referred to as les Ponts, is the world's oldest civil engineering school...

, the ENST
École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications
Télécom ParisTech is one of the most prestigious and selective grandes écoles in France and one of the finest institutions in the field of Telecommunications...

, or the ENSAE
École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique
The École nationale de la statistique et de l'administration économique or ENSAE is one of the French Grandes Ecoles of engineering and a member of ParisTech ....

, thus joining one of the civil service bodies known as the grands corps techniques de l'État. Those who pursue this path are known as X-Mines, X-Ponts, X-Télécoms and X-INSEE, respectively, with the X prefix, for Polytechnique, identifying them as particularly elite members of their corps.

Since the X2000 reform, the importance of the ranking has lessened. Except for the Corps curricula, universities and schools where the Polytechniciens complete their educations now base their acceptance decisions on transcripts of all grades.

Tuition and financial obligations


For French nationals, tuition is free as long as the full curriculum is completed, and a salary is received throughout the school years at the level of a reserve officer in training. French students, through the student board (Caisse des élèves or Kès), redistribute some of their salary to foreign students, most of whom also benefit from grants.

There is no particular financial obligation for students following the curriculum, and then entering an application school or graduate program that Polytechnique approves of. However, French students who choose to enter a civilian or military corps after Polytechnique are expected to complete 10 years of public service following their admission to the school (i.e. their 3 years at school count towards their time of service).
If a student enters a Corps but does not fulfill those 10 years of public service (e.g. resigns from his or her Corps), the tuition fees are due to the school. Sometimes, when an alumnus quits a Corps to join a private company, that company will pay for the tuition fees which are then called the pantoufle (slipper).

The graduate school


Polytechnique organizes various Master
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

's programs, by itself or in association with other schools and universities (in the Paris region, École Normale Supérieure
École Normale Supérieure
The École normale supérieure is one of the most prestigious French grandes écoles...

, Université Paris-Sud, Université Paris VI
Pierre and Marie Curie University
The Paris VI University , or the Pierre and Marie Curie University , is a university located on the Jussieu Campus in the Latin Quarter of the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France....

, École Supérieure d'Électricité (Supélec), other member institutions of ParisTech
ParisTech
ParisTech the Paris Institute of Technology is one of the collegiate universities in France. It gathers 11 of the best French engineering schools, covering nearly the whole spectrum of engineering science, and 1 business school, aiming to be of comparable status to the most famous universities of...

, Toulouse area and foreign partner universities) on a wide variety of topics. Access to those programs is not restricted to polytechniciens, although they are invited to join them and they make up one half of the students. The following Master's programmes are offered:
  • Applied Mathematics (Mathematics and Modelling – Probability Theory and Finance – Probability Theory and Aleatory Models)
  • Chemistry (Molecular Chemistry)
  • Complex Information Systems (Design and Management of Complex Information Systems)
  • Computer Science (Fundamental Computer Science)
  • Economics (Quantitative Economics & Finance [M1] – Economic Analysis and Policy – Economics of Energy, Environment, Sustainable Development - Economics of Markets and Organizations)
  • Mathematics (Analysis, Arithmetic and Geometry)
  • Mechanics (Materials and Structural Mechanics - Sustainable building Materials – Fluid Mechanics: fundamentals and applications – Oceans, Atmosphere, Climate, Space Observations)
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology (Structural and Functional Engineering of Biomolecules)
  • Physics and Applications (Fundamental Concepts in Physics: Theoretical, Quantum, Solid State, Liquid & Soft Matter Physics - Optics, Matter and Plasmas – Materials Science and Nano-Objects – Fusion Sciences - Quantum Devices - Nanosciences - High Energy Physics)
  • Sciences, Technologies, Society (Project, Innovation, Conception – Network Industry and Digital Economy - LoPHiSS/Science of Cognition & Complex Systems)


and Polytechnique takes part in two degrees awarded by ParisTech
ParisTech
ParisTech the Paris Institute of Technology is one of the collegiate universities in France. It gathers 11 of the best French engineering schools, covering nearly the whole spectrum of engineering science, and 1 business school, aiming to be of comparable status to the most famous universities of...

:
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Transportation and Sustainable Development: Master ParisTech – Fondation Renault


About 50% of Master's students come from abroad.

The doctoral program


The school also has a doctoral program open to students with a master's degree or equivalent. Doctoral students generally work in the laboratories of the school; they may also work in external institutes or establishments that cannot, or will not, grant doctorates.

About 35% of doctoral students come from abroad.

International Rankings


In international rankings, Polytechnique is often placed among the best universities of the world.

The International Professional Ranking of Higher Education Institutions, which looks at the education of the Fortune 500 CEOs, ranks Polytechnique 7th in the world in its 2011 ranking (1st being Harvard University), #2 among French institutions behind HEC Paris.
Year Rank (Change)
2007 4 ( 0)
2008 15 ( 11)
2009 14 ( 1)
2010 12 ( 2)
2011 7 ( 5)

The THE-QS World University Rankings and its successor QS World University Rankings
QS World University Rankings
The QS World University Rankings is a ranking of the world’s top 500 universities by Quacquarelli Symonds using a method that has published annually since 2004....

 (From 2010 two separate rankings are produced by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings
Times Higher Education World University Rankings
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings is an international ranking of universities published by the British magazine Times Higher Education in partnership with Thomson Reuters, which provided citation database information...

 and the QS World University Rankings
QS World University Rankings
The QS World University Rankings is a ranking of the world’s top 500 universities by Quacquarelli Symonds using a method that has published annually since 2004....

) have placed Polytechnique 36th in the 2011 rankings, #2 among French institutions, behind Ecole Normale Superieure
École Normale Supérieure
The École normale supérieure is one of the most prestigious French grandes écoles...

.
Year Rank (Change)
2005 10
2006 37 ( 27)
2007 28 ( 9)
2008 34 ( 6)
2009 36 ( 2)
2010 36 ( 0)


Polytechnique ranking in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings
Times Higher Education World University Rankings
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings is an international ranking of universities published by the British magazine Times Higher Education in partnership with Thomson Reuters, which provided citation database information...

 is 39th in 2011 and #1 among French institutions.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities
Academic Ranking of World Universities
The Academic Ranking of World Universities , commonly known as the Shanghai ranking, is a publication that was founded and compiled by the Shanghai Jiaotong University to rank universities globally. The rankings have been conducted since 2003 and updated annually...

, also known as the Shanghai Rankings, places Polytechnique in 2010 at 201-300 worldwide, and 8-13 in France.

Polytechnique is known for its extremely competitive entrance exam and is considered to be one of the most prestigious educational establishments in France. It is the most selective French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 engineering school. In rankings by French newspapers, Polytechnique almost always secures first place among French institutions. According to salary surveys its graduates are among the highest paid of all French graduates.

Research


It has many research laboratories operating in various scientific fields (physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, etc.), most operated in association with national scientific institutions such as CNRS
Centre national de la recherche scientifique
The National Center of Scientific Research is the largest governmental research organization in France and the largest fundamental science agency in Europe....

, CEA
Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique
The Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives or CEA, is a French “public establishment related to industrial and commercial activities” whose mission is to develop all applications of nuclear power, both civilian and military...

, or also INRIA.

Student life


Noted people


Many Polytechnique graduates occupy prominent positions in government, industry, and research in France. Among its alumni are two Nobel prizes winners, three Presidents of France and many CEOs of French and international companies. Of the fifty most important and best-performing corporate enterprises in France, nearly half are headed by a Polytechnicien.

External links