Direction of studies: Yves Boubenec (

Application deadline: March - April 2022

The Département d’Études Cognitives recruits "normaliens" who will prepare the ENS diploma in all the specialties related to cognitive science. We mainly welcome applications from psychology, linguistics, biology, mathematics, computer science, physics, philosophy and social sciences. We recruit students from universities as well as from preparatory classes, scientific, economic and commercial, and literary.

For applications at the L3 level, we recommend that students from a biology, physics, mathematics, computer science or economics background apply simultaneously to the department corresponding to their training discipline, with a view to possible joint admission. In such a case, the year of L3 is mainly spent in the other department, but the student takes courses at the DEC at the same time and can do a research internship as part of the ENS degree. 

Admission to the DEC independently of admission to another department is also possible, especially for students from a psychology, philosophy or social science program. The student may then, depending on the case, do his or her bachelor's degree in a Parisian university, or be enrolled in the first year of the ENS diploma and take all of his or her courses at the DEC. At the end of this year, the preferred path is the master's degree in cognitive science (cogmaster).

For applications at the M1 level, candidates MUST also be candidates for the  Master of cognitive science (CogMaster).

STEP 1 : Applications can be submitted between (dates to be specified)
The application must first be made on
Then the application must be sent by email to, with a copy to Camille Lemarchand:

You will receive an acknowledgement of receipt within 48 hours of your submission. If you do not receive an acknowledgement of receipt, please contact the DEC studies department  (

The file must include : 

  • A CV
  • The ENS form which summarizes your application on TOUCAN
  • A cover letter: see our guide!
  • Transcripts of grades
  • A single letter of recommendation
  • For M1 level applicants, the CogMaster application form

A practical question? 
I contact the DEC pedagogical secretary: Camille Lemarchand (
I contact the DEC Director of Studies: Yves Boubenec (

STEP 2 : The results of the preselection will be communicated during May-June

Our pre-selection criteria: The pre-selection criteria include academic results, including possible results in competitions, and elements that demonstrate an interest in and familiarity with certain aspects of cognitive science (choice of courses, research internships, readings), as well as an aptitude for research. The letter of recommendation and the cover letter should highlight these elements. Do not hesitate to consult our tips for writing a good cover letter.

STEP 3: The selection tests take place in June 2022

Test 1: You will have to prepare a 10-minute oral presentation on a cognitive science issue that you consider to be of the utmost importance, and on which you would like to work, or have already worked. Your presentation must demonstrate your ability to synthesize and analyze a field of cognitive science, as well as your scientific mind.  The jury will also expect clarity and rigor in the ideas presented. A 10-minute interview will follow the presentation.

Test 2: The jury will interview you for 30 minutes to evaluate your motivation. During this interview, the jury will review your background, your motivations, and your general and specific knowledge of cognitive science. You will also have to prepare a time-limited exercise (to consult the annals, click here).

If you are applying to two departments, the interview may be shared with the other department. In this case, the rules of the other department will apply to the interview. However, a member of the DEC is present to ask the candidate questions.

Our selection criteria: Evaluation of knowledge, analytical skills, scientific potential, originality, open-mindedness and critical thinking, sense of initiative and motivation of candidates for training through research. 

If you have a scholarship, the DEC will pay for your train tickets. If you are unable to travel, it is also possible to organize the second test remotely, by videoconference.

Some statistics on the DEC student normalien exam:

In 2021, the DEC admitted 7 student normals, including 7 at the M1 level and 0 at the L3 level.
In 2020, DEC admitted 9 student normals, including 7 at the M1 level and 2 at the L3 level.
In 2019, DEC admitted 7 student normals, including 5 at the M1 level and 2 at the L3 level.
In 2018, DEC admitted 5 student normaliens, including 3 at the M1 level and 2 at the L3 level.
In 2017, DEC admitted 5 student normaliens, including 2 at the M1 level and 3 at the L3 level.
In 2016, the DEC admitted 6 normaliens students, including 4 at the M1 level and

Depending on the year, the selection rate varies between 7 and 10%.

Between 20 and 30% of the students admitted to the Concours Normalien Étudiant are scholarship holders.