Coordinates: 48°50′29″N 2°20′49″E / 48.84139°N 2.34694°E / 48.84139; 2.34694

ESPCI Paris (officially the École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles de la Ville de Paris; The City of Paris Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution) is a prestigious grande école founded in 1882 by the city of Paris, France. It educates undergraduate and graduate students in physics, chemistry and biology and conducts high-level research in those fields. It is ranked as the first French École d'Ingénieurs in the 2017 Shanghai Ranking.[1]

TypeGrande École
Campus5th arrondissement of Paris
AffiliationsPSL Research University,
ParisTech (Paris Institute of Technology),
IDEA League,
WebsiteESPCI Paris

ESPCI Paris is a constituent college of Université PSL and a founding member of the ParisTech (Paris Institute of Technology) alliance.

5 researchers and alumni from ESPCI Paris have been awarded the Nobel Prize:

Two thirds of the students enter the School following a competitive examination (concours X-ESPCI-ENS) following at least two years of Classes Préparatoires. The other students are recruited by submitting applications. The School itself is also known as Physique-Chimie or simply PC.

ESPCI Paris nurtures relationships with many industrial partners such as Schlumberger, Rhodia, Total, Thales, Arkema, Michelin, Withings, which sponsors groups of students and has research contracts with ESPCI laboratories. ESPCI Paris also has partnerships with L'Oréal and Saint-Gobain for professional recruitment.


At the end of the 19th century, following the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine by Germany, France lost the École de Chimie de Mulhouse (Mulhouse Chemistry School), which was at that time the best chemistry school in the country. One of its professors, Charles Lauth, obtained permission from the government in 1878 to create a Grande École. In 1882 the École Supérieure de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris was established and became ESPCI, its current name, in 1948. Since its foundation, the founders of the school have emphasized pluridisciplinarity. Biology was introduced in 1994. There are no tuition fees at ESPCI.

After its establishment, the School rapidly became a meeting spot for the best scientists. From 1880 on, Pierre and Jacques Curie started a serie of research on crystal electrical properties that led to the piezoelectricity discovery. In 1897, Marie Curie started her work on uranic rays discovered by Becquerel one year earlier. After numerous experiments in the ESPCI laboratories, she discovered that pitchblende was 4 times more radioactive than uranium or thorium.[2] In July 1898, the Curies announced the discovery of polonium and in December of the same year that of radium. Pierre and Marie Curie received the Physics Nobel Prize in 1903. After the death of her husband, Marie Curie was granted the Chemistry Nobel Prize in 1911.

Many former students have distinguished themselves, amongst which are Georges Claude (5th year), founder of Air Liquide, Paul Langevin (7th year), physicist and inventor and Frédéric Joliot-Curie (39th year), founder of the CEA and Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 with his wife Irène.

In 1976, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (Nobel Prize 1991) became Director of the School and remained in this position until his retirement in 2002.

In 2015, the city of Paris announced a major renovation plan, in order to modernize the buildings and laboratories of the school. Renovation work should start in 2018 and last five years.


The course of study lasts four years.[3] The two first years give the students a strong basic education in physics, chemistry and biology. The students can major in physics, chemistry or physico-chemistry. Laboratory research projects are also carried out. During the third year, the students carry out an industrial internship, which lasts from 4 to 6 months. More than 50% of the students do their internship abroad, in European countries, the United-States, Japan, China, Australia, or other countries. During the fourth year, the students can either begin doctoral studies or do a masters abroad or in France. In 2002 a masters program in bioengineering was created.

The quality of the education at ESPCI enables its students to work in any industrial sector (telecommunication, computing, chemistry, pharmacology, biology, and other fields), mostly in Research and Development (47% in R&D, 10% in production, 10% in consultancy, 5% in environmental work, 3% in teaching, 3% in computing, 22% in other fields such as marketing or management).


The primary mode of admission (60 out of 90 students every year) is a competitive examination open to candidates enrolled in the PC (Physics-Chemistry) section of the Preparatory Classes to the Grandes écoles. The examinations are the same as for the Ecole Polytechnique but the components are weighted differently.

Candidates to the competitive examination must have their licence or an equivalent diploma. They must be aged between 17 and 22 on 1 January of the examination year. Foreign candidates must be under 26 and can attempt this examination three times.

It is also possible for students from the MP section (Maths-Physics), PSI section (Physics and Engineering Sciences), and BCPST section (Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences) of the preparatory classes or having completed 2 or 3 years of physics or chemistry in a French university to apply for ESPCI Paris. Admission is reserved to first class honours students selected according to their academic results.

Directors of the ESPCIEdit

Notable facultyEdit

Notable alumniEdit


ESPCI hosts high levels laboratories:[5]

The ESPCI Paris International Scientific CommitteeEdit




  1. ^ Shanghai Ranking 2017
  2. ^ Sklodowska Curie, Marie (1898). "Rays emitted by compounds of uranium and of thorium". Comptes Rendus. 126: 1101–1103. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  3. ^ Complete curriculum description
  4. ^ "Serge Le Berre". Les Echos (in French). 13 September 2002. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  5. ^ ESPCI Paris : Laboratories(in French)
  6. ^ The ESPCI Paris ISC(in French)

External linksEdit