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Frequently Asked Questions

Application procedure

You may also check the PSL FAQ on applications.

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Q : I have a question, where can I call you ?
A : Sorry, we aren’t staffed to answer application enquiries on the phone. Please read the relevant pages on this site and if you still can’t find the answer to your question, email us : general questions, L3, M1, M2.

Q : Where can I apply ?
A : Each of our programmes uses a dedicated platform. The different options are listed under the Venir étudier/Prospective students menu at the top of this page. Here are a few quick links :
 L3 : concours BCPST, concours normalien étudiant.
 M1 : France, international.
 M2 : France, international.

Q : Can I apply through the Campus France website ? With Études en France ? At the French Embassy in my country ?
A : No, international applications have to go through our dedicated platforms, which are listed above, and which you can also find under the Venir étudier/Prospective students menu.

However, if you require a student visa you will have to do the procédure pré-consulaire on Études en France after you have been admitted. Here’s a guide to help you with the early steps of the visa application : EN | FR.

Q : I have a French passport but I’m currently studying abroad, should I apply as an international student ?
A : Yes, what matters is your degree, not your nationality. If your latest degree [1] is to be awarded by a foreign university [2], you may apply as an international student. If you’re studying in France, and will receive a degree from a French university, you should apply as "coming from France" even if you’re not a French national.

Q : I won’t have the grades for my last semester in time for the submission deadline. Can I complete my file once it’s submitted ?
A : You can’t add documents to your file after submission. However, if your application goes on to the second step, you should bring the missing documents to your interview.

Q : Which language can I use in my application ?
A : The application documents may be in English or in French.

Q : Do I need to have the documents translated by a sworn translator ?
A : Your letter and your application file should be written directly in French or English, so the question only pertains to transcripts and diplomas. Most universities will provide a transcript in English, this is the easiest way. If you can’t get an English (or French) transcript, you should provide a translation together with the original. If your language uses the Latin alphabet, the jury can usually ascertain that the grades are correct by comparing the original and the translation so there’s no need for a sworn translator. In other cases, a sworn translation is recommended.

Q : Which English level is required to apply ?
A : There is no formal requirement, the jury will evaluate your command of scientific English and biological vocabulary during the interview. If you hold an English language certificate, a C1 level or equivalent should be on the safe side.

Q : Can I apply for an Eiffel scholarship ?
A : Unfortunately no, our international recruitment schedule is incompatible with Eiffel scholarship applications.

Q : Campus France requires a proof of contact ("preuve qu’un contact a été établi avec la ou les université(s) ou établissement(s) d’enseignement supérieur(s) choisi(s)") for my scholarship application. Can you provide this ?
A : When you submit your application, you will receive an e-mail acknowledging that your application file has been received. This email can be used as your proof of contact.

Q : I need a letter of acceptance early for my scholarship application. Can you provide this ?
A : Unfortunately no. You will receive an acknowledgement of your application after the application deadline, and you will be notified that your application has been accepted or rejected as soon as the jury has come to a decision. If you haven’t been notified yet, it means that the jury hasn’t decided, so we can’t guarantee your acceptance at this stage.

Q : Here’s my CV, I’d like to know if I’m eligible for the programme.
A : The short answer : we don’t have the time and resources required to assess CVs sent outside the application procedure.

Longer version : there are far too many higher education systems and diplomas for us to know, and we can’t give you a personalised answer in advance. Here are some guidelines to help you evaluate your eligibility :
 the applicant should hold a degree in life sciences or in another scientific discipline while having demonstrated interest for the life sciences [3],
 two years of post-secondary education (120 ECTS in the European system) are required to apply for L3,
 a three-year diploma (180 ECTS, Licence or 3-year Bachelor) is required to apply for M1,
 a four-year diploma (240 ECTS, M1 or 4-year Bachelor) is required to apply for M2,
 some of our programmes have more specific requirements, which are listed on the corresponding pages : Q-Life scholarships, programme Médecine/Sciences, Double diplôme AgroParisTech-ENS.
The degrees listed here are required at the time of registration, i.e. next september. Applications can be made while the degree is still in preparation. In this case, acceptance is contingent upon the actual obtainment of the required degree.

We are open to atypical profiles, so if you meet the relevant qualifications in terms of years of study/course credits, you may apply even if your curriculum isn’t straightforward. You may also apply at a level lower than the one to which you are eligible if your projects warrant it. All this should be described and justified in your application letter.

Q : Is a research experience necessary to apply ?
A : A research experience is a plus for all applications. While not formally mandatory, a laboratory internship [4] is expected for all Master applicants ; its absence should be justified by specific circumstances [5].

Q : I could apply for M2, but will I have more chances of success if I apply for M1 ?
A : Both levels of admission are extremely competitive, and choosing the lower level will not necessarily improve your chances.

Reasons to apply for M1 instead of M2 include (but are not limited to) :
 if you’re willing to take the more generalist M1 courses to ensure that your basic knowledge is solid enough before taking the more advanced M2 courses,
 if you’re planning to switch majors and want to acquire a solid basis in a new discipline,
 if you want to study biology disciplines outside your current major, either in order to develop a multidisciplinary project or to complement your biological culture before fully committing to your major.
This choice, and the way it articulates with your project, should be clearly stated in your application letter.

Q : I can’t be in Paris on the day of the audition, can my interview be rescheduled ? Can it be done by videoconference ?
A : Interviews have to take place on the scheduled day. While we prefer to meet applicants in person, video interviews are possible. Please contact us as soon as you receive your interview appointment.

Q : Is the selection process on a rolling basis ? Should I apply as soon as possible in case there is no place left for late applications ?
A : All applications (for a given programme) are evaluated at the same time, so there is no need to apply early. Take all the time you need to prepare your application (within the given deadlines obviously).

Q : Is the deadline for professors submitting a recommendation the same as the application deadline ?
A : Yes, the applications wil be evaluated in the days following the deadline so the recommendations should arrive in time if they are to be taken into account by the jury. However, your application won’t be ruled out if the recommendations are late.

Q : Are there application fees ?
A : There are no application fees, however, should you be accepted, you will have to pay tuition fees (see below).

General information

Go back to Application procedure

Q : What is the DENS ?
A : DENS stands for Diplôme de l’ENS, or ENS Diploma. We have a whole page on the subject.

Q : What is a "normalien" ? A "mastérien" ? What’s the difference between "normalien élève" and "normalien étudiant" ? What is a "normalien boursier", an "étudiant boursier" ?
A : This is a difficult one, so bear with us...
 Normaliens are students who enlist for the 3-year DENS on top of their Licence and/or Masters’s degree. Master’s students who don’t enlist for the DENS are called mastériens. Students who join the Biology Department at L3 level are required to enlist for the DENS, and are therefore normaliens. Most students who join at M1 level become mastériens with a few exceptions [6]. Students who join at M2 level become mastériens [7].
 OK, that was easy, so here’s more : normaliens come in two flavours. Those who joined through the BCPST competition become French civil servants in training, they commit to working for the French public service for ten years and in return they get a salary during their studies. They are called normaliens élèves. University students who joined through the concours normalien étudiant are called normaliens étudiants.
 Not lost yet ? Étudiants, be they mastériens or normaliens (but not élèves), can also be boursiers. Boursier simply refers to someone who holds a fellowship ("bourse" in French). We offer a few dedicated fellowships for our students : M/S, SI, Q-Life, but there are others.

Now you’re officially confused, but don’t worry : no matter what their status is, they all take the same great courses, and they all get the same dedication from our amazing teaching team.

Q : What do L3, M1, M2 mean ?
A : In the French university system, the three-year Licence (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree) is followed by a two-year Master [8].
L3 is the third year of Licence, and the third year of university studies. The first year of Master (fourth year of university studies) is called M1 and the second year — you guessed it — is called M2.

Q : In which language are the courses given ?
A : This depends on the level.
 At L3 level, most courses are given in French, with a few in English.
 At M1 level, some courses are in English, some are normally in French but will switch to English as soon as it is required (i.e. if there is one non-French speaker among the audience).
 At M2 level, all courses are in English.

To summarise : command of French is not necessary for Master students (although it may be useful outside the classroom). English is required at all levels [9].

Q : How much are the tuition fees ?
A : Registration and tuition fees comprise several parts :
 Academic Year tuition fees for a Licence are under 200€ (170€ in 2019-2020). For a Master’s degree they amount to about 250€ (243€ in 2019-2020).
Tuition fees are substantially higher [10] for citizens of nationalities outside the European Economic Area. However, For the 2022-2023 academic year, the ENS had elected to offer partial tuition fee waivers to the students concerned by the measure, so international students will pay the same fees as European students.
 Before registration, students must also pay 91€ for the CVEC.
 Enrollment in the ENS diploma (for three years) comes with additional yearly tuition fees (210€).
There are no application fees.

Q : Does the ENS offer accommodation ?
A : Normaliens can apply for a student’s room at the ENS. Q-Life scholars can get a room at the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to guarantee housing for other master students.

Q : I’m interested in one of your courses, can I take it without joining the Biology Department ?
A : Yes, with conditions.
 If you’re from another ENS Department, you may want to ckeck the Biology courses for non-biologists.
 If you’re from another institution, please have a look at the external students page.

Q : What is the duration of classes per day ?
A : Courses will typically run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., however there are exceptions. The detailed schedule will be available on line before the beginning of the course. Practical courses in particular can last much longer (practicals only end when the experiment is finished, so the given schedule isn’t binding). Additionally, some courses (among which language courses, methodology tutorials and section seminars) take place during the midday break or in the evening.

Q : I asked a question about the ENS Imalis Master, and got a reply about the PSL SdV Master. What’s this letter salad ?
A : The short answer is : as far as you’re concerned, they’re the same thing.

There are historical reasons to explain all those different acronyms, but they would probably bore you to death. If you absolutely want to know, here’s a summary :
 the ENS (École Normale Supérieure) is a French grande école, where most of the Imalis Master is organised and taught.
 PSL (Paris Sciences et Lettres) is an association of research and higher education institutions located in the Paris area, of which the ENS is a founding member.
 the biology Master organised at the ENS Biology Department was named Imalis (Interdisciplinary Master in Life Sciences) until 2017.
 in 2017, Imalis was subsumed as part of the PSL Master Sciences du Vivant (abbreviated SdV). Imalis is now a parcours (track) of the PSL SdV M1. The other tracks are organised by the EPHE, and are collectively known as Imaghe.

Q : OK, so where’s the Imalis M2 track ?
A : It doesn’t exist as such. In M2, Imalis splits in four tracks. Former Imalis students should choose one of the following :
 Systems biology, genomics and bioinformatics
 Fundamental biology for health
 Ecology and evolution

Q : your website mentions M1 and M2 tracks and sub-tracks, what’s the difference ?
A : Master tracks are officially recognised, students register for a given track which will eventually be the one mentioned on their diploma. Sub-tracks are recommended course selections leading to a given specialisation that we offer within some of the tracks.

Can’t find what you’re looking for ? Read this page again.
Still can’t find what you’re looking for ? Contact us by email : general questions, L3, M1, M2.

[1The degree that makes you eligible for the programme.

[2You must have spent more than a year there, an exchange semester wouldn’t count.

[3Attested by the applicant having taken some Biology courses equivalent to about 60 ECTS, part of which may be an internship in a Biology lab.

[4At least one month long.

[5For example medical studies only allowing hospital internships.

[6More specifically, M/S students, Double diplôme students and International Selection students become normaliens, while regular M1 applicants and Q-Life scholars become mastériens.

[7Normaliens who joined in L3 or M1 remain normaliens when they reach M2.

[8The two years are normally required to complete the Master’s degree, although holders of a 4-year degree may apply directly for the second year.

[9All the above applies only to the courses organised by the Biology Department. We can’t guarantee that courses from other institutions will be available in English.

[102770€ for a Licence and 3770€ for a Master in 2019-2020.