Sorbonne University

MottoCréateurs de futurs depuis 1257 (French)
Motto in English
Creators of futures since 1257
TypePublic research non-profit coeducational higher education institution
  • 1257; 767 years ago (1257) (as Sorbonne college)
  • 2018; 6 years ago (2018) (current legal status)
Academic affiliations
Endowment€900 million
Budget€1 billion (2021)
PresidentNathalie Drach-Temam
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students55,600 (2019)
21 Rue de l’École de Médecine 75006 Paris
CampusLatin Quarter; Clignancourt; Jussieu; Institut de Géographie; Malesherbes
World Ranking35 (ARWU)
ColorsBlue   and   Red
Chapel of the main Sorbonne building

Sorbonne University (French: Sorbonne Université) is a public research university located in Paris, France. The institution's legacy reaches back to the Middle Ages in 1257 when Sorbonne College was established by Robert de Sorbon as one of the first universities in Europe.

Sorbonne University is one of the most sought after universities by students and researchers from France, Europe, and the French speaking countries. Most notably, Marie Skłodowska-Curie, who came from Poland in 1891 and joined the faculty of sciences of the Sorbonne, was also the first woman to become a professor at the Sorbonne. Marie Curie and her husband Pierre Curie are considered the founders of the modern-day Faculty of Science and Engineering of Sorbonne University. As of 2021, its alumni and professors have won 33 Nobel Prizes, six Fields Medals, and one Turing Award.[2]


College of Sorbonne

Robert de Sorbon (1201–1274), chaplain to King Louis IX (Saint Louis), observed the difficulties experienced by poor "schoolchildren" in achieving the rank of doctor. In February 1257, he had a house (domus) officially established which he intended for a certain number of secular clergy who, living in common and without concern for their material existence, would be entirely occupied with study and teaching. This house was named the college of Sorbonne.

The old slogan of the establishment, "Sorbonne University, creators of futures since 1257", refers to this date. The college of Sorbonne was closed along with all the other colleges of the former University of Paris in 1793.

The college of Sorbonne was located on the site of the current Sorbonne building, shared between Sorbonne University, Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris I) and Sorbonne Nouvelle University (Paris III).

Following the promulgation of laws on 28 April 1893, giving civil personality to the bodies formed by the union of several faculties of an academy, and 10 July 1896, giving the name of university to the bodies of faculties, the new University of Paris was created in 1896 through the merger of the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Letters, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Protestant Theology (created in 1877 and transformed into a free faculty in 1905), and the École supérieure de pharmacie. It was inaugurated on 19 November 1896 by its president, Félix Faure.

Splitting of the University of Paris

The Universities of Paris-Sorbonne and Pierre-et-Marie-Curie were created as a result of the university reform prepared by Edgar Faure in 1968.

At that time, the University of Paris, divided into five faculties, was split into several interdisciplinary universities. Some, including the University of Paris-Sorbonne, retained the name "Sorbonne" and premises in the historic centre of the University of Paris, which had until then been mainly devoted to the Faculties of Arts and Sciences.

The University of Paris-VI is created from the majority of the teaching and research units of the Faculty of Sciences of Paris (the others joining the universities of Paris-VII Denis Diderot (now Université Paris Cité), Paris-Saclay University in Orsay, Paris-XII and Paris-XIII in Villetaneuse) and part of the units of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris (the others joining the universities of Paris-V René Descartes (now Université Paris Cité), Paris-VII Denis Diderot and Paris-XIII).

Reunification of the Universities of Paris IV and Paris VI

In 2010, some of the direct successors of the faculties of the University of Paris created the Sorbonne Universities Association. The following universities, members of the group, decided to merge into Sorbonne University in 2018:

At the same time, the Sorbonne Universities Association was renamed the Sorbonne University Association; it includes the following institutions for academic cooperation:[3]

As part of the reforms of French Higher Education, on 19 March 2018, the international jury called by the French Government for the "Initiative d'excellence" (IDEX) confirmed the definite win of Sorbonne University. Consequently, Sorbonne University won an endowment of 900 Million euros with no limit of time. This is the first higher education institution in Paris region to win such an endowment. The university was established by a decree issued 21 April 2017, taking effect 1 January 2018.[4]


Sorbonne University has three faculties: Arts and Humanities, Science and Engineering, and Medicine.[5]

Arts and humanities

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities provides studies in arts, languages, letters, and human and social sciences, and is the largest in France. Fields such as history, geography, languages, linguistics, musicology, philosophy, classical and modern literature, foreign literature and civilisations, and the history of art and archaeology are part of this faculty.[6]

Science and engineering

The Faculty of Science and Engineering of Sorbonne University is a major research institution in France. It can be considered the successor in direct line to the Faculty of Science of the University of Paris with the Paris-Saclay Faculty of Sciences.[7]

It has 79 laboratories in the Paris region, most in association with the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). Some of the most notable institutes and laboratories include the Institut Henri Poincaré (Mathematics), Institut d'astrophysique de Paris (Astrophysics), LIP6 (Informatics / Computer Science), Institut des systèmes intelligents et de robotique (Robotics), Institut de mathématiques de Jussieu – Paris Rive Gauche (foundations of Mathematics, shared with University of Paris) and the Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel (Quantum Physics, shared with PSL University).[7]


The Faculty of Medicine is associated with the Assistance Publique–Hôpitaux de Paris, the Sorbonne University Hospital Group (Hôpital Charles-Foix, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Hôpital Fondation Rothschild, Hôpital Saint-Antoine, Hôpital Tenon, Hôpital Armand-Trousseau, Hôpital de La Roche-Guyon) and the Quinze-Vingts National Ophthalmology Hospital, promoting multidisciplinary research, and training doctors and other health professionals.[8]

Law (external tuition)

There is no law school as such in Sorbonne University. In 1971, most of the law professors from the Faculty of Law and Economics of the University of Paris decided to restructure it as a university, called Panthéon-Assas University (after the two main campuses of the Paris Law Faculty: place du Panthéon and rue d’Assas campuses).[9] Panthéon-Assas now provides legal studies for Sorbonne University as an independent university.



Further information: Sorbonne (building)

Sorbonne University's historical campus is in the historic central Sorbonne building, located at 47 rue des Écoles, in the historic Latin Quarter of Paris. The building is the undivided property of the 13 successor universities of the University of Paris, managed by the Chancellerie des Universités de Paris.[10] Besides the monuments of the Cour d'honneur, the Sorbonne Chapel and the Grand amphitéâtre,[11] the building houses the Academy of Paris Rectorat, the Chancellerie des Universités de Paris, part of the universities Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, Sorbonne University, Paris Cité University and the École Nationale des Chartes as well as the École pratique des hautes études that are constituent schools of PSL University.[12]

Before the 19th century, the Sorbonne occupied several buildings. The chapel was built in 1622 by the then-Provisor of the University of Paris, Cardinal Richelieu, during the reign of Louis XIII. In 1881, politician Jules Ferry decided to convert the Sorbonne into one single building. Under the supervision of Pierre Greard, Chief Officer of the Education Authority of Paris, Henri-Paul Nénot constructed the current building from 1883 to 1901 that reflects a basic architectural uniformity. The integration of the chapel into the whole was also Nénot's work with the construction of a cour d'honneur. The Sorbonne building is generally reserved for undergraduate students in their third year and graduate students in certain academic disciplines. Only students in Semitic studies, regardless of level, take all their classes at the Sorbonne campus.

The Library of the Sorbonne is an inter-university library of the universities Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, Sorbonne University, University of Paris, under the administration of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne.[13] It is open exclusively to undergraduate students in their third year and graduate students. With the former archives of the now-defunct University of Paris, 2,500,000 books, 400,000 of them ancient, 2,500 historical manuscripts, 18,000 doctoral dissertation papers, 17,750 past and current French and international periodicals and 7,100 historical printing plates, the Library of the Sorbonne is the largest university library in Paris and was entirely refurbished in 2013.


Further information: Jussieu Campus

The largest of Sorbonne University's campuses is Jussieu Campus, officially named "Pierre and Marie Curie campus". It houses the Faculty of Sciences. The first buildings are from 1957. The main part of the campus, the "Gril d'Albert," was built in 1964, and was completely refurbished from 1996 to 2016.[14]

It houses six university libraries, including an important research library in mathematics and computer science.

Maison de la Recherche

Inter-university Library of La Sorbonne

The Maison de la Recherche campus is the central building for doctoral studies that hosts the history and geography departments. It houses the Serpente Library that has 55,000 works and 292 past and current French and international periodicals. All doctoral dissertations since 1 January 1986 have been stored at the Serpente Library.

Clignancourt and Malesherbes

Two other campuses are the Clignancourt and Malesherbes centers. Undergraduate students in their first and second years of study in Philosophy, History, Geography, Musicology, English and Spanish take their classes at the Clignancourt center. The Clignancourt Library contains 78,000 works, 210 French and international periodicals and 800 educational DVDs.

Undergraduate students in their first and second years of study in French literature, French language, Latin, and Ancient Greek take their classes at the Malesherbes center. All undergraduate students in these academic disciplines study in the central Sorbonne building in their third year. Undergraduate and graduate students in German studies, Slavic studies, Italic studies and Romanian studies, regardless of level, take all of their classes at the Malesherbes center. The Malesherbes center also hosts three research centers in Italian culture, the cultures and literature of central Europe and the Balkans and the Germanic, Nordic and Dutch centers. The Malesherbes Library contains 200,000 works specializing in the study of foreign languages and cultures and 1,200 past and current French and international periodicals. More than 50,000 doctoral dissertations are available for public viewing.

Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie

Main article: Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie

Undergraduate Art History and Archeology students take their classes at the Institut d'Art et d'Archéologie, located at the main entrance of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Constructed by architect Paul Bigot between 1925 and 1930, the Mesopotamian-style building was classified as a national historic building in 1996. It hosts the Michelet Library that contains 100,000 volumes of work on art history and archeology with 100 French and international periodicals. Only 10,000 of the art history and archeology works are open to students, the others requiring special authorization of usage. Graduate Art History and Archeology students take their courses at the Institut National de l'Histoire de l'Art in the Galerie Colbert, a partnered national institution of the university.

Other campuses in Paris

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2017)

Both the Institut d'Urbanisme et d'Aménagement and the Institut d'Etudes hispaniques in the Latin Quarter host third year and graduate students of Geography and Iberian and Latin American studies. The Marcel Bataillon Library houses the Institut d'Etudes Hispaniques' collection of 25,000 works on Iberian and Latin-American culture. Catalan studies take place at the Centre d'Etudes catalanes in the Marais.

The Sorbonne university also includes Campus Pitié and Campus Saint-Antoine for the study of medicine ; Campus Les Cordeliers, Campus Curie and Campus Raspail for sciences studies.

Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi

Main article: Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi

An exclusive international agreement between Sorbonne and the government of Abu Dhabi was signed on 19 February 2006, starting plans to bring Sorbonne University to Abu Dhabi. Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (SUAD) was established on 30 May 2008 on Reem Island by a decree of the ruler of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates. All programs are taught in the French language except for the Bachelor of Physics and most of the masters programmes, that are taught in English . An intensive French language programme is offered for one or two year(s) to students who do not meet the French language requirement for registration. The establishment of the university demonstrates the keenness of Abu Dhabi to create an international hub in culture and education, having also signed a contract with the Louvre in 2007 to create the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and with New York University in 2007 to create New York University Abu Dhabi. SUAD is jointly governed by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) and by SUAD's board of trustees, with six members, three of whom are appointed by the home Sorbonne University and the other three appointed by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. The president of SUAD is the president of Sorbonne University in Paris, currently Prof Nathalie Drach-Temam. Academic programmes are offered at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the social sciences, humanities, law and sciences.

Academics and rankings

Rankings and reputation

Sorbonne University is consistently ranked in the top universities in Europe and the world. The first recognition of its existence as an integrated university came in 2018, when it appeared on the CWUR World University Rankings 2018–2019 in 29th place globally and 1st place in France.[15]

University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[16]43 (2022)
CWUR World[17]38 (2022–2023)
CWTS World[18]97 (2022)
QS World[19]59 (2024)
Reuters World[20]56 (2019)
THE World[21]90 (2023)
USNWR Global[22]46 (2022)
National – Overall
ARWU National[16]2 (2022)
CWTS National[18]1 (2020)
CWUR National[23]3 (2021–22)
QS National[19]3 (2021)
THE National[21]3 (2021)
USNWR National[24]1 (2022)

In the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020, Sorbonne University is ranked in range 39 globally and 3rd in France.[16]

In the Times Higher Education European Teaching Rankings 2024, Sorbonne University was ranked in fourth place in France.[25]

In the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2019, Sorbonne University was ranked in range 51–60 globally and 2nd in France.[26]

The 2021 QS World University Rankings[27] ranked Sorbonne University 83rd overall in the world and 3rd in France. Individual faculties at Sorbonne University also featured in the rankings.

Before the merger of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University, both had their own rankings in the world.

Its founding predecessor Paris-Sorbonne University was ranked 222 in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2015. By faculty, it was ranked 9 in modern languages, 36 in arts and humanities (1st in France), and 127 in social sciences and management (5th in France).[28] By academic reputation, it was ranked 80 (2nd in France), according to the QS World University Rankings, and 2nd in overall highest international reputation of all academic institutions in France, according to the Times Higher Education 2015.[29][30] In 2014 Paris-Sorbonne ranked 227 in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings, 115 for Social Sciences and Management, 33 for Arts and Humanities.[30]

Pierre and Marie Curie University was often ranked as the best university in France.[31] In 2014 UPMC was ranked 35th in the world, 6th in Europe and 1st in France by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.[32] It was ranked 4th in the world in the field of mathematics by the same study. The 2013 QS World University Rankings[33] ranked the university 112th overall in the world and 3rd in France. In 2013, according to University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP),[34] Université Pierre et Marie Curie is ranked first university in France, and 44th in the world. UPMC is a member of Sorbonne University Association.[35]

International partnerships

Sorbonne students can study abroad for a semester or a year at partner institutions such as McGill University, University of Toronto, King's College London, and University of Warwick.


Members have worked on several projects in order to strengthen the relations between them and potentially create a new international institution. The most famous projects are the "Sorbonne College" (Collège de la Sorbonne) for bachelor's degrees and the "Sorbonne Doctoral College" (Collège doctoral de la Sorbonne) for graduate students.

The Sorbonne College

Since 2014, the Sorbonne College for bachelor's degrees ("Collège des Licences de la Sorbonne") has been coordinating the academic projects of Sorbonne University with Panthéon-Assas University, the law school of the Sorbonne University Group which has not merged into the Sorbonne University and remained independent. It also offers cross-institutional academic courses in many fields, allowing students to graduate from both institutions. For example, some cross-institutional bachelor's degrees ("double licences") are proposed to students in :

As it is the case in the Anglo-American university system, Sorbonne University proposes a major-minor system, that is currently being deployed at the university.[37]

Sorbonne University, in partnership with INSEAD, also offers all of its alumni and PhD students a professionalizing course in business management to complete their curriculum.

The Doctoral College

Sorbonne University's graduation ceremony, May 2011

Since 2010, every PhD student is being delivered an honorary diploma labeled Sorbonne University. This diploma highlights and gathers the skills of the doctors and researchers from the institutions that form Sorbonne University.

The Sorbonne Doctoral College, created in 2013, coordinates the activities of the 26 doctoral schools. Since 2014, it has developed cross-disciplinary Ph.Ds between the different members of the Sorbonne University Association.

Sorbonne University's doctoral schools
Doctoral school Fields
Énergie, matière, univers Chimie physique & chimie analytique de Paris centre
Physique et chimie des matériaux
Chimie moléculaire de Paris centre
Astronomie et astrophysique
Sciences de la Terre et physique de l'univers
Physique en Ile-de-France
Modélisation et ingénierie Informatique, télécommunications & électronique
Sciences mathématiques de Paris centre
Sciences mécaniques, acoustique, électronique et robotique
Terre vivante et environnement Sciences de l’environnement
Géosciences, ressources naturelles et environnement
Sciences de la nature et de l'homme : écologie et évolution
Vie et santé Cerveau, cognition, comportement
Santé publique & sciences de l’information biomédicale
Physiologie, physiopathologie et thérapeutique
Complexité du vivant
Histoire-Géographie École doctorale de géographie de Paris
Histoire de l’art et archéologie Paris-Sorbonne
Histoire moderne et contemporaine
Mondes anciens et médiévaux
Langues, lettres et civilisations Littératures françaises et comparée
Civilisations, cultures et sociétés
Concepts et Language

Since 2011, Sorbonne University celebrates its graduates in a formal ceremony where every Ph.D. graduate wears a scholar uniform.[38]


To strengthen the influence of its research infrastructures at the international level, Sorbonne University has developed several research programs aiming at reinforcing or exploring new fields of study. This innovative cross-disciplinary approach was embodied with the creation of four new academic positions gathering several establishments of the group:[39]

Sorbonne University has formed several partnerships enabling bilateral research programswith academic institutions such as the China Scholarship Council or the Brazilian foundation FAPERJ.

Sorbonne University is a member of the League of European Research Universities, which gathers 23 European universities such as Cambridge and Oxford.[40]


Scientific collections

The Sorbonne University houses eight notable scientific collections that are open to researchers.[41] Some collections are open to the public as noted.

Recent Nobel, Fields and Turing laureates

Notable alumni

See also


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48°51′4″N 2°20′26″E / 48.85111°N 2.34056°E / 48.85111; 2.34056