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What is a Grande Ecole

An original feature of France’s system of higher education in science and technology

What is a Grande Ecole d’Ingénieurs?

France’s system of higher education in science and technology is divided into two parallel systems: universities and the Grandes Ecoles d’Ingénieurs which prepare highly selected students for taking up key positions as engineer-managers in a wide range of industries and public administrations in France and abroad.
The particular features of the Grandes Ecoles include:

  • highly selective admissions procedures;
  • top-level teaching staff with a mix of academics, business and industry professionals, and consultants;
  • courses carefully tailored to meet the present and future requirements of industry and business in France and abroad;
  • business and industrial placements and student projects commissioned by enterprise;
  • a staff-student ratio that ensures close monitoring of students’ progress;
  • a wide range of extracurricular activities: arts, cultural activities, voluntary work, sports and pre-professional projects (student-run junior enterprises, etc.) ;
  • a strong esprit de corps, fostered by influential alumni associations.

The Ecole Centrale Marseille is a Grande Ecole d’Ingénieurs created in 2003-2004 through the fusion of four engineering schools, the oldest of which was founded in the 1890s. Ecoles Centrales are among the most prestigious of France’s Grandes Ecoles d’Ingénieurs and offer an M.Sc. level degree in science, engineering and management (Diplôme d’Ingénieur). ECM students are recruited from among candidates who have successfully passed the Centrale-SUPELEC competitive entrance examination at the end of a two-year undergraduate course in maths, physics and chemistry (Classes Préparatoires).

Marseille and its surrounding area has developed as a major centre for tertiary sector industries in a rich scientific, technological and industrial environment at an international crossroads linking the European Union with the Greater Mediterranean area:

  • France’s second largest centre for scientific research and higher education (more than 100,000 students),
  • France’s leading industrial centre for microelectronics (ST Microelectronics, Atmel, Gemplus) and photonics (Alcatel Space, SESO and more than 100 SMEs)
  • A major industrial centre  for petrochemicals and chemicals, metallurgy, aeronautics (Eurocopter, Dassault), robotics;
  • Cadarache, recently selected as the site of the ITER international nuclear fusion research centre.

Students in Marseilles also benefit from a unique natural and cultural environment: Provence’s rich cultural heritage, sunny climate, Mediterranean lifestyle, impressive range of natural landscapes, historic towns and villages.

A paradise for outdoor sports and activities:

  • rock climbing and scuba diving in the Calanques nature park;
  • sailing and sail boarding;
  • skiing and mountaineering (major Alpine resorts within less than four hours’ drive),
  • and strategically positioned for easy access to Barcelona, Genoa, Nice, Lyon and Paris (3 hours by the TGV high-speed train).