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Sciences Po

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Public, Grande école

€173 million

Frédéric Mion

Total enrollment
13,000 (2014)


Olivier Duhamel

Acceptance rate
10% (2010)

Former names
École libre des sciences politiques

27 Rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris, France

Closing soon · 8AM–9PMFriday8AM–9PMSaturday9AM–7:30PMSundayClosedMonday8AM–9PMTuesday8AM–9PMWednesday8AM–9PMThursday8AM–9PMSuggest an edit

Undergraduate tuition and fees
Domestic tuition: 10,040 EUR (2015), International tuition: 10,040 EUR (2015)

Notable alumni
François Hollande, Jacques Chirac, François Mitterrand, Austen Chamberlain, Pascal Lamy

Pantheon‑Sorbonne University, HEC Paris, Paris‑Sorbonne University, École nationale d'administration, University of Paris


Welcome to sciences po

Sciences Po ([sjɑ̃s po]), or Paris Institute of Political Studies (French: Institut d'études politiques de Paris, [ɛ̃s.ti.ty de.tyd pɔ.li.tik də pa.ʁi]) is a highly selective university (known as a Grande École) located in Paris, France, and is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious in France.


Its main campus is located on rue Saint-Guillaume in the 7th arrondissement. It maintains departments in political science, economics, history, sociology, law, finance, business, communication, social and public policy, urban policy, management, and journalism. The university is organized into eight schools: the University College, Sciences Po School of Public Affairs, the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po Law School, Sciences Po School of Management and Innovation, the Urban School, the Journalism School and the Doctoral School.

Sciences Po was ranked 4th in Politics and International Studies globally by QS 2016 and 2017 World University Rankings. Sciences Po is a member of several academic consortia (including APSIA and the College Board).

The school was created in 1872 to improve the training available for public servants and politicians following a series of political catastrophes.

Many notable public figures are among its alumni, including the past five French presidents. It has also, however, been strongly criticized for creating an oligarchy in French society and being at the centre of several scandals.

1872 to 1945: École Libre des Sciences Politiques

Sciences Po was established in February 1872 as the École Libre des Sciences Politiques by a group of French intellectuals, politicians and businessmen led by Émile Boutmy, and including Hippolyte Taine, Ernest Renan, Albert Sorel and Paul Leroy Beaulieu. Following defeat in the 1870 war, the demise of Napoleon III, and the Paris Commune, these men sought to reform the training of French politicians. Politically and economically, people feared France's international stature was waning due to inadequate teaching of its political and diplomatic corps. ELSP was meant to serve as “the breeding ground where nearly all the major, non-technical state commissioners were trained.”

New disciplines such as International Relations, International Law, Political Economy and Comparative Government were introduced. In August 1894, the British Association for the Advancement of Science spoke out for the need to advance the study of politics along the lines of ELSP. Sidney and Beatrice Webb used the purpose and curriculum of Sciences Po as part of their inspiration for creating the London School of Economics in 1895.

1945 to 1997

As per ordinance 45-2284 issued on 9 October 1945, two entities were created from ELSP:

  • Fondation nationale des sciences politiques (English: National Foundation of Political Science) or FNSP, and
  • Institut d'études politiques de Paris (English: Paris Institute of Political Studies) or IEP Paris.
  • Both entities were tasked by the French government to ensure “the progress and the diffusion, both within and outside France, of political science, economics, and sociology”.

    The epithet Sciences Po was applied to both entities, which inherited the reputation previously vested in ELSP. France's Legislature entrusted FNSP with managing IEP Paris, its library, and budget, and an administrative council assured the development of these activities. The curriculum and methodology of the ELSP were also the template for creating an entire system of institutes of political studies (French: Institut d'études politiques) across France, namely in Strasbourg, Lyon, Aix, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Toulouse, and then in Rennes and Lille. They are not to be confounded with Sciences Po's satellite campuses.

    FNSP further strengthened its role as a scientific publication center with significant donations from the Rockefeller Foundation. FNSP periodicals such as la Revue française de science politique, le Bulletin analytique de documentation, la Chronologie politique africaine, and the Cahiers de la Fondation as well as its seven research centres and main publishing house, Presses de Sciences Po, contribute to the reputation attained by Sciences Po research.

    The Richard Descoings Era (1997-2012)

    Sciences Po underwent various reforms under the directorship of Richard Descoings (1997–2012). In these years, Sciences Po introduced a compulsory year abroad component to its undergraduate degree, and began to offer a multilingual curriculum in French, English, and other languages. It was during this period that Sciences Po added its regional campuses.

    Sciences Po also implemented reforms in its admissions process. Previously, Sciences Po recruited its students exclusively on the basis of a competitive examination. This system was seen to favor students from prestigious preparatory high schools or those who could afford year-long preparatory courses. In March 2001, the school's governing council widened its admissions policy. From September 2002, Sciences Po began accepting students from certain schools located in economically depressed suburbs on the basis of their school record and a 45-minute interview, rather than the name-blind examination all other students must pass to be admitted.


    Sciences Po is located in Paris, in the 6th and 7th districts (arrondissements):

  • 27 rue Saint-Guillaume houses the head office since 1879. It is also home to Sciences Po's two largest teaching halls, the Amphitheatres Émile Boutmy and Jacques Chapsal.
  • 9, rue de la Chaise: administrative offices.
  • 56, rue des Saints-Pères: language classes, language lab, audiovisual service and a cartography workshop.
  • 117, boulevard Saint-Germain: School of Journalism
  • 174, boulevard Saint-Germain: offices and classrooms
  • 199, boulevard Saint-Germain: offices of Doctoral School.
  • 224, boulevard Saint-Germain: classrooms
  • 56, rue Jacob: Research Center for History (Centre d'histoire de Sciences Po) and International Relations (Centre d'études et de recherches internationales)
  • 13, rue de l'Université / The René Rémond building: administrative offices, classrooms and amphitheatre
  • 8, rue Jean-Sébastien-Bach: Urban Studies Graduate Program
  • rue d'Assas and rue de la Cassette at the Institut Catholique
  • Sciences Po also has five regional campuses. Each campus has a specific regional focus:

  • Dijon: Central and Eastern Europe
  • Le Havre: Asia
  • Menton: Middle-East and Mediterranean
  • Nancy: Europe & Franco-German Region
  • Poitiers: Latin America
  • Reims: North America
  • The Paris Campus offers a general social sciences programme. It is also home to a regional concentration on Africa.


    Research at Sciences Po covers economics, law, history, sociology and political science, while also taking in many interdisciplinary topics such as cities, political ecology, sustainable development, socioeconomics and globalization.

    Network of universities

    Sciences Po is part of a network of 410 partner universities. Partner universities include: Berkeley (USA), Cambridge (England), Columbia (USA), Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), Fudan (China), Keio (Japan), London School of Economics (England), Tufts (USA), etc.

    Sciences Po is a member of the Global Public Policy Network along with the London School of Economics, the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

    Sciences Po is a member of the Sorbonne Paris Cité alliance.

    Library and publishing

    Founded in 1871, the nucleus of the school’s research is Bibliothèque de Sciences Po. The library offers a collection of more than 950,000 titles in the field of social sciences.

    In 1982, the National Ministry of Education made the Bibliothèque the Centre for Acquisition and Dissemination of Scientific and Technical Information in the field of political science, and since 1994, it has been the antenna associated with Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Bibliothèque de Sciences Po is also the main French partner in the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, which is based at the London School of Economics.

    Founded in the 1950s, Presses de Sciences-Po is the publishing house of Sciences Po. It publishes academic works related to the social sciences.


    For the year 2016 the QS World University Rankings Sciences Po ranked globally 223 in the world (7th in France), 86 (4th in France) in social sciences and management, 149 (4th in France) in art and humanity, 4th (1st in France) for Politics and International studies, 50 in sociology (2nd in France) 51-100 (2nd in France) in Law, 51-100 (1st ex aequo in France) in Economics & Econometrics, 51-100 (2nd ex aequo in France) in History. Its Master in Public Policy (MPP) with a concentration in Economics and Public Policy was ranked 6th of Western Europe (1st in France) by Eduniversal among masters in Economics. The U.S. magazine Foreign Policy, for their 2015 rankings, ranked Sciences Po 21st in the world to obtain a master's degree for a policy career in International Relations. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2013/2014, Sciences Po ranked 98th in the world for Social Sciences. In the 2013 Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index of Global Executives, a ranking of an academic institution's number of degrees awarded to chief executives of the world’s biggest companies, Sciences Po is ranked 81st.

    Reputation and controversies

    Due to its prominent alumni, its selectivity and its history of providing candidates for admission to the École nationale d'administration, it is seen in France as an elite institution. However, it is criticised, as well as the ENA, for creating in France an oligarchy of disconnected with reality, '...blinkered, arrogant and frequently incompetent people.'

    During World War II (1939-1945), the then-private institution demonstrated an ambiguous behaviour. Philippe Pétain, head of the Vichy Régime, had been honorary president of Sciences Po's board of directors before the war. In 1945, it was decided to semi-nationalize the École Libre des Sciences Politiques.

    Alain Lancelot, president of the Institut d'études politiques de Paris from 1987 to 1996, was sued and found guilty of financial mismanagement by the French Court of Audit.

    Under the "Richard Descoing era" (1997-2012), the institution was hit by a number of scandals. Descoing had been criticized for offering large sums of money (through salary rise, free accommodation, etc.) to diverse members of staff, included his wife, in spite of the fact that Sciences Po in partly stately funded. He was found dead in his luxury hostel in a Manhattan luxury hotel room, police thought the cause of death would be an overdose linked to his controversial gay livestyle, the final coronary report concluded to natural death but his energy the day of the death and the missing phones and computer have raised suspicion. In February 2012, it has been found that an inspector of the French Court of Audit, in charge of investigating the financial behaviour of Sciences Po, was in the same time employed by Sciences Po.

    In October 2012, the French Court of Audit castigated the serious financial mismanagement in Sciences Po. It strongly denounced the large use of public money for personal use of the staff, the tax evasions, the absence of doing of contractual work by most of the lecturers, the infringement of financial regulation on public works contract, the absence of any control from the State, and even the rise of 33% of the public funding in the last 5 years. Sciences Po has also been accused to prevail results over morals. The French Court of Audit has appealed to the public attorney for bringing a lawsuit for some of these facts. Hervé Crès the interim manager of Sciences Po (now head of the doctoral school of Sciences Po) has promised to change while preserving its identity In November 2012, Hervé Crès has been dismissed by the government, but he sought to president of Sciences Po anyway, saying that Alain Lancelot and Richard Descoings have been found guilty too, but it doesn’t matter for what concerns the presidency of Sciences Po.

    In July 2015, the public attorney sued Jean-Claude Casanova, the head of the institution which was supposed to supervise Sciences Po, for a trial before the Court of Financial and Budgetary Discipline. Sciences Po, with Frédéric Mion as new director, tried to defend Casanova. The Court of Financial and Budgetary Discipline eventually found Casanova guilty, but sentenced him with leniency because the procedures had some part of regularity and because it wasn’t customary in Sciences Po to follow all the financial rules.


    Over 65,000 people have studied at Science Po, and alumni and former staff include twenty-eight heads of state or government, specifically the last four French presidents (François Hollande, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy - although he didn't graduate - and François Mitterrand), thirteen past or present French prime ministers, twelve past or present foreign heads of state or government, a former United Nations Secretary-General, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, the former head of the European Central Bank and the former head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Former Portuguese Prime Minister, José Socrates was a doctoral student at this institution in 2012.

    Among the alumni are CEOs of France's forty largest companies (Frédéric Oudéa of banking group Societe Generale, Michel Bon of Carrefour, Jean-Cyril Spinetta of Air France, Serge Weinberg of PPR, Gérard Mestrallet of Suez, Philippe Camus of Alcatel-Lucent), private bankers such as David René de Rothschild, the CEO of Lazard Italy, the CFO of Morgan Stanley Europe, the Director of Credit Suisse World, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of TradingScreen and the Chairman of Credit Suisse Europe as well as the current head of the European Federation of Businesses, Industries and Employers and the current head of the French Businesses and Employers Union and many others. Influential cultural figures such as the writer Marcel Proust and the founder of the modern olympics Pierre de Coubertin also graduated from Sciences Po.


    Instructors included or still include former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, former WTO president Pascal Lamy, current French President Francois Hollande, former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former French foreign minister Hubert Védrine, Nobel Prize Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and former Economics minister as well as former Managing Director of IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn.


  • 1987-1996: Alain Lancelot
  • 1997-2012: Richard Descoings
  • 2012-2012: Hervé Crès (interim)
  • 2012-2013: Jean Gaeremynck (interim)
  • 2013-today: Frédéric Mion
  • References

    Sciences Po Wikipedia