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Top 10 Universities in Paris

Top 10 Universities in Paris main image

The true City of Lights (regardless of what Las Vegas or Johannesburg have to say on the matter), Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful. From the patisseries and cafés, to the staggering architecture and infamous fashion sense, the richness of Parisian culture and history is evident everywhere.

So if you’re ready to pack your bags and head to the French capital, check out these 10 top universities in Paris, based on the QS World University Tops® 2020.

10. ENS-Paris Saclay

ENS-Paris Saclay

Formerly known as ENS Cachan, École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay (ENS-Paris Saclay), is ranked joint 312th in the QS World University Tops this year and is currently based in Cachan, a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, about a 20-minute train journey from the city center.  However, later this year the university will move campuses to the commune of Gif-sur-Yvette, France's ‘Silicon Valley’, where it will be near other members of the Paris-Saclay research-intensive and business cluster, retaining student accommodation and administrative offices at the original campus.

9. Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Currently ranked joint 305th in the world, the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne was a successor of the historic University of Paris’ law school, and is considered particularly prestigious for arts and humanities subjects, for example coming 18th in the world for archaeology.

One of the largest French universities, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne enrolls roughly 43,000 students in more than 14 teaching and research departments, 9,090 of whom are from outside France.

Located in the vibrant Latin Quarter, the university operates across several famous historic buildings, including part of the Sorbonne itself, making it a prestigious and heritage-rich place to study in Paris.

8. Université Paris-Sud 11

Université Paris-Sud 11

Ranked joint 262nd in the world in the latest QS World University Tops, Université Paris-Sud 11 prides itself on its wide scope of multidisciplinary courses and is spread across four campuses in the southern suburbs of Paris. The scientific campus in Orsay is the furthest from the city, set on 200 hectares of land which include woodlands and a botanical garden.

While the Orsay campus is a 40-minute drive from central Paris, Université Paris-Sud 11’s medical school is much closer, in an area called Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, which is just an hour’s walk from the city center.

7. University of Paris

Université Paris Diderot

Not to be confused with the historical institution of the same name (which existed on and off between 1150 until its division into 13 separate universities in 1970), the new University of Paris (Université de Paris), ranked joint 253rd in this year’s QS World University Tops, has been established this year from the merger of Université Paris Descartes, Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7) and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (The Paris Institute of Earth Physics, IPGP). It’s already a large university, hosting around 61,000 students, with a large span of campuses and sites across the city.

6. École des Ponts ParisTech

École des Ponts ParisTech

One of the founding members of the ParisTech group, the École des Ponts ParisTech is now ranked 250th in the world, up 13 places this year. Known for its culture of invention and innovation, the École des Ponts ParisTech offers programs in the fields of engineering, management, economics, transportation, urban planning and environment.

The university’s main campus is a 20-minute train ride north of central Paris, although many students choose to live in the city center to be close to the liveliest areas. The school offers housing in the student-centered Latin Quarter and in other areas of the city.

A relatively small community, the École des Ponts ParisTech enrolls just under 2,000 students, of which a quarter are female.

5. Télécom ParisTech

Telecom ParisTech

Télécom ParisTech is a new entry in this year’s world rankings, placing 249th in the world and fifth among the top universities in Paris, and is one of the most prestigious engineering schools in France, ranking in the global top 300 for the engineering and technology broad subject area according to the QS World University Tops by Subject 2019.

Télécom ParisTech also earns one of the highest scores of any French university for its percentage of international students (one of the six indicators used to compile the rankings), with nearly half of its 1,500 students coming from outside France.

4. Sciences Po Paris

Sciences Po

The Institute d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, commonly known as Sciences Po Paris, specializes in the humanities and social sciences, with approximately 35 percent of its budget being used to fund research in these subjects. Currently ranked 242nd in the world, Sciences Po Paris has seven campuses across France, which are home to 14,000 students overall, of whom 49 percent are international (meaning it also ranks highly for the international students indicator).

Sciences Po Paris’s main campus is located in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of the capital, which was once the center of the existentialist movement associated with author Simone de Beauvoir and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Today, the area continues to be a hub of creative culture and is also home to many famous Parisian cafés.

3. Sorbonne University

Sorbonne University

Another of the top universities in Paris to be formed by a merger of former institutions, Sorbonne University is ranked 77th in the world in 2020 and continues to be the third highest-ranked university in the city. Founded in 2018 by the merging of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University, Sorbonne University has the largest arts and humanities faculty in France and a student community of 55,600, including 10,200 international students.

Sorbonne University has an innovative and global outlook and is committed to long-term partnerships with international universities to further scientific research. It also runs a campus in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, where students can study literature, languages, the humanities and the sciences.

2. École Polytechnique (ParisTech)

Ecole Polytechnique ParisTech

Up five places to rank joint 60th in the world, École Polytechnique (ParisTech) is a founding member of ParisTech (an affiliated group of colleges focusing on science and business subjects) and receives its highest rank in the QS World University Tops by Subject for the broad subject area of natural sciences, ranked 27th in the world.

Although having once been situated in the Latin Quarter, ParisTech relocated to just south of the city in 1976. Now located approximately 30 kilometers outside of central Paris and with a community of over 4,600 students and teachers, ParisTech’s main campus offers over 160 hectares of open space and a range of outside sporting facilities which many campuses within the city center can only dream of.

1. Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL)

Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL)

Number one among the top universities in Paris and France as a whole, Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University (PSL) is ranked 53rd in the QS World University Tops this year and is a collegiate university, formed in 2010 and made up of nine members, including École Normale Supérieure (ENS Paris), one of the most selective and prestigious grandes écoles (great schools and establishments) in the country.

PSL gets scores in the global top 50 for its reputation with graduate employers and its ratio of faculty members to students (two of the six indicators used to compile the rankings), with 17,000 students and 4,500 teachers and researchers.

The university has excellent links with employers and maintains strategic partnerships with other elite universities around the world, such as Australian National University (ANU) and the UK’s University of Cambridge.

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Find out more about studying in France with our complete guide, which includes advice on applications, student visas, tuition fees, funding and more.

This article was originally published in November 2013. It was last updated in June 2019 to incorporate the latest QS World University Tops results.

Stephane W, Martin F & 88 others saved this
Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for Kyohaku.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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11 Comments

Hello, I'm Doris from Malawi and I just completed my IGCSE with credits and I need help finding a high quality but cheap schools or scholarships(considering we are now the poorest country in the world and our money is worthless to other countries)that will accept me with IGCSE results anywhere in the world

Do you have any scholarship for international students?
I am Mujtaba Sadid from Afghanistan if it is possible for me please guide me.tnx.

Hi Mujtaba, if you'd like to study in Paris, you can find scholarships to study there in our list of 'Scholarships to Study Abroad in the World's Best Student Cities'. Alternatively we've included scholarships to study in France here. :)

If u could provide me with good universities across Europe with funding that would be really great.

Hello Laura,
I am Sukanya from India. I have just completed my masters course in zoology and i was looking for universities in france to pursue a PhD in biological sciences /medicine. Could you help me with the best opportunities available with my field? I would like to opt for funded projects only.

I must admit that I think this kind of list is pretty useless. It mixes grandes ecoles and fac for various subjects (ranging from poli sci to medicine). So it compares apples, oranges, and figs. I went to Sciences Po but would never have gone to the Ecole Normale.

Hi Rob, thanks for your feedback. The list above doesn't intend to compare the universities, merely to give readers an overall view of which universities in Paris have ranked highest this year.

Paris is one of a good place to have a vacation. I wish i can go there someday and visit some top universities out there.

Very well written article. Thank you for posting. I got a lot of information. Keep posting and keep up the good work.

Hello laura,
I am Vikash from India has completed my MSc(CS) in 2014, i want to apply for MS/PhD Program in these top 100 universities. Please tell me that what i have to do for admission ?? and how can i will get notification for admission in these universities???

Hi Vikash - please see my response to your question here.