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The International Center for Fundamental Physics and its affiliates at École Normale Supérieure (ENS-ICFP) offer a comprehensive and diverse Master’s education in the theoretical and experimental aspects of fundamental physics.
The curriculum spans a broad spectrum of disciplines, including high energy physics, statistical physics, atomic physics, condensed matter physics, astrophysics, and physics for biology.
The first year of study provides a general introduction to fundamental physics, particularly in statistical physics, quantum mechanics, and relativity.
Since September 2012, most courses are taught in English.
In the second year of study, students can specialize in an area of their choice. The research internship, which takes place at the beginning of the second semester, is often the opportunity for students to complete their first scientific publication.
The second year includes four separate tracks:
- Condensed matter physics (in English)
- Soft matter and biological physics (macroscopic physics, e.g.) (in English)
- Quantum mechanics: from atoms to the solid state (in English)
- Theoretical physics (in English)
In addition, École Normale Supérieure is co-accredited for the three following Master’s (M2). Second-year students also have the opportunity to register for any other M2 specialization, subject to authorization from the Director of Studies.
Who should apply?
The Master’s in Fundamental Physics is available to students with Bachelor’s degrees (Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Engineering) who have received a solid basic education in fundamental physics and mathematics.
The Master’s in Fundamental Physics prepares students for continuing on to a dissertation in fundamental physics, providing a general course of study during the first year and opportunities for specialization in the second year. Students have the opportunity to work in laboratories covering most of the fields of fundamental physics, including the most highly applied forms.
Upon completion of a dissertation, students have access mainly to careers in academia or with major research agencies (CNRS, CEA, IN2P3). Some students leverage their hands-on research experience to proceed along a different professional path, going into teaching, public administration, consulting, and industrial or business careers, for example.
In the second year of the Master’s program, students take a seminar on the research profession.
N.B.: An ENS degree in Physics mainly leads to careers in public or industrial research. Students interested in careers teaching at the secondary education level are advised to follow a curriculum more suitable for preparing for the Ministry of National Education’s competitive hiring exams (CAPES and Agrégation).
Students from France or abroad can enter the program directly into the second year (M2), provided they have completed 60 recognized ECTS at the M1 level in disciplines compatible with the selected program. Students falling within this category may be coming from non-specialized university physics programs (M1 “Physics and Applications” majors, for example) or from engineering schools (such as École Polytechnique) with a concentration in fundamental physics courses. Prospective students must have already received thorough training in quantum mechanics and statistical physics in particular.
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