The Sorbonne today

Since the 13th century, the name Sorbonne has conjured up for the whole world the image of one of the most prestigious centres of intelligence and culture, of science and of the arts, of an age-old knowledge that spans the centuries and one that resounds to this day with the promise of excellence. Eight centuries after its foundation, the Vieille Dame (“Old Lady”) remains the prestigious symbol of the spirit of a whole nation and of the history that made France what it is today. After being rebuilt during the Third Republic (1870-1940) as a temple of knowledge in the glory of the educational system of the Republic, the Sorbonne has become the symbol of all French universities and academies.

Housing the Rectorat d’Académie (education authority of Paris) and theChancellerie des Universités de Paris, it is also home today to several internationally-renowned  higher education institutions, as well as university research centres that are in the frontline in many domains.

  • The Rectorat de l’Académie de Paris administers the whole of the Ministry of Education’s services in charge of the management of the city’s primary and secondary schools. The Academy of Paris is unique in that it is composed of the capital city only.


  • As it is under the authority of the Rector, the role of the Chancellerie des Universités de Paris is to supervise the legality of and exert budgetary control over Parisian universities. It has also inherited all of what remains (movable and non-movable) of the former University of Paris and, as a consequence, is responsible for this heritage that it allocates to the different universities in the Ile-de-France (i.e. the Greater Paris area) region. As it is also guardian of the traditions of the University of Paris, it awards scholarships and prizes, thus playing an active role in university life.


  • The École Nationale des Chartes is a Grande École (a prestigious higher education institute) whose speciality is the ancillary sciences of history (philology, paleography, archivistics, archeology). Its status as a prestige school has established the reputation of French curators and archivists for nearly two centuries.


  • The École Pratique des Hautes Etudes is a prestigious French higher education public institution whose mission is to give students practical training in basic and applied research in biology and geology, history and philology, as well as in religious studies.


  • The Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne is the Parisian university that has, overall, the greatest number of enrolled students. It is specialised in political science, economics, management, law and the humanities.


  • The Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle is in the forefront of innovation in terms of teaching and international research in languages, literature, arts, humanities and social studies.


  • The Université Paris IV Sorbonne is specialised in literature and the humanities. It is an innovative centre and, as such, follows in the Sorbonne’s long tradition of passing on classical knowledge and a humanities-based culture.


  • The Université Paris 5 Paris Descartes is the biggest French medical school. While it is faithful to the Sorbonne tradition in the transmission of medical knowledge, it also proposes first-rate courses in many other different fields such as geology, biology, legal science, economics, management, science and technology.


  • The Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire de la Sorbonne is a general library that has more than two and a half million books relating to the various domains of university research as well as several old and specific publications inherited from the collections of the old University of Paris.