From experience, this is a list of items that are very frequently asked by DEC normaliens. Please refer to this list for any question about the DENS and related topics. Ask you mentor if things are not clear. If he/she can’t answer, then contact the director of studies (


72 ECTS, with:

a) 24 ECTS among DEC classes
b) 24 ECTS in other disciplines than your expertise
c) 24 flexible ECTS (as you wish)

Note that language classes are necessarily in the 24 flexible ECTS.
Maximum of 24 ECTS for internships (see below for equivalence internships↔ECTS).
It is compulsory to have an experience abroad in these 72 ECTS (very often an internship).

An international experience is mandatory in your DENS for non-SI normaliens. It is usually an internship abroad.

For specific cases and detailed explanations, please refer to the DENS vademecum (English HERE and French HERE).


Beyond your major in cogsci, you can complete one or several minors in other disciplines if you achieve enough credits in the related department. There are 2 conditions:
1) you must complete 24 ECTS for a scientific minor, and 48 ECTS for a humanity minor
2) the director of studies of the minor department should approve your minor. Please get in touch with him/her beforehand, as some departments have specific requirements for minor.

Language class
It is mandatory for non-SI normaliens to complete the Cambridge certificate (CAE). A specific training session is organized by ECLA every year (12 ECTS, necessarily in the 24 flexible ECTS).

The DEC pays the registration to the  Cambridge certificate.

Your trajectory for your 3 or 4 years in the department
This is just to give you an overview about how most normaliens’ schooling looks like.

3-year curriculum: 

  • Year 1: M1
  • Year 2: étalement*
  • Year 3: M2

4-year curriculum:

  • Year 1: M0 or L3
  • Year 2: M1
  • Year 3: étalement*
  • Year 4: M2

4-year curriculum (often normaliens élèves):
- Year 1: Année blanche, M0 or L3
- Year 2: M1
- Year 3: M2
- Year 4: Gap year (in the future PhD lab)

étalement is a gap year, in which one often completes one or several internships (one abroad for validating the international experience for the DENS) and take a few classes.


You are assigned a mentor (tuteur) for your entire schooling in the department. Your mentor will be a faculty of the department. You will meet him/her at least twice every year:

1) at the beginning of the academic year, for discussing your choice of classes. Before this meeting, you have to register in GPS the classes you plan to follow for your diploma (DENS). Your mentor will have to sign the contrat d’études once you both agree on the classes

2) at the end of the academic year, for discussing how the year went, and what your plans for next year are.

→ do not hesitate to get in touch with your mentor as soon you have questions about your teaching plan, or any financial, physical or mental issues. We are here to help you; the earlier you will discuss your situation, the faster (and better) we can help you. For instance, the mentoring has been essential during the COVID crisis.

Internships (stages)

For ALL the internships that will be done as part of your DENS or for the CogMaster, here is the process for signing the convention:

a) download the convention
b) complete it
c) have yourself (first box), your internship supervisor (second box), the head of the internship institute (third box) sign it
d) have your DEC mentor sign it
e) if it is a CogMaster internship, send it to the CogMaster secretary (
if it is a DENS internship, send it to the DEC pedagogical secretary (
And please do NOT email the director of studies directly.

Validating an internship for the DENS

Maria Giavazzi ( is in charge of validating your internships. Write her for the mode of validation.

Here are the equivalence between internship durations and ECTS:
+ mini CogMaster internships (2 days a month during a semester) –> 3 ECTS
+ mini CogMaster internships (4 days a month during a semester) –> 6 ECTS
+ 2 months full time (or 2 days per week during 5 months) –> 12 ECTS
+ 3 months full time (or 3 days per week during 5 months) –> 18 ECTS
+ 4 months or more –> 24 ECTS

Bourse de mobilité

Normaliens students (not élèves) can benefit from some financial support for abroad internships. Please submit an application describing the internship research project with an estimate of the living cost. The pedagogical committee (only 3 per years) will review the application before funding.
Make sure to apply in addition to the ERASMUS fellowship if you can.


During your last year of DENS, you can apply to a PhD fellowship called Contrat Doctoral Spécifique Normalien (CDSN). All normaliens can apply to CDSN. There is a very selective competitions to obtain such a fellowship, so the application should be carefully redacted. Contact labs in advance, and have an internship in the candidate lab if possible.
There is a boost to applications outside of the Parisian region.