Social Sciences

Bannière Sciences sociales
Program type Initial Training
Degree Master's
Graduate program(s) Social Sciences
Domain(s) Humanities & social sciences
Discipline(s) Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Social Science, Sociology
Teaching language(s) French
Place Paris

PSL host school


The fruit of a collaboration between the Social Sciences departments of ENS-PSL and École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), the Master’s degree in Social Science offers a unique educational framework for three fundamental social science disciplines—anthropology, history, and sociology—that makes space for the subjects and territory of other disciplines such as political science and economics.
This master's degree is part of PSL social sciences graduate program

Learning outcomes

This Master’s degree offers training in research by doing research and focuses on the acquisition of specific knowledge from each discipline. Through research workshops and field internship, students become familiar with statistics, archiving, ethnography, and cartography, and the core of the second year curriculum is an individual research project.

The program is primarily affiliated with the Centre Maurice Halbwachs (a joint CNRS-EHESS-ENS-PSL unit) and also benefits from the contributions of research professors and researchers from other EHESS laboratories (such as IRIS and CESSP).

The Master’s degree offers 2 tracks starting in M1:

  • Interdisciplinary Practices in Social Science (PDI)
  • Quantification in Social Science

See dedicated tabs for more information about the programs.

- Read the Master's program website
- Discover the "concours normalien étudiant"

Who should apply?

The course is open to any applicant with an educational background in the humanities and social sciences (Economics, Political Science, Humanities, History, Geography, Sociology, Social Science, etc.) as well as to those holding a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics or Computer Science applied to the humanities and social science.

Courses are held in the heart of Paris, mainly on the Paris-Jourdan Campus of École Normale Supérieure-PSL and at EHESS.


First and foremost, the Master’s Degree in Social Science prepares students for careers in research. Students in the program are intended to continue their education by preparing a PhD. The Quantification Social Science track also offers corporate opportunities.

  • Unprecedented collaboration between the most prestigious schools in France in the field of social science.
  • Exceptionally close ties to laboratories boasting an international reputation.
  • An international environment created by students, researchers and guest academics.
  • An unequaled campus life in the very heart of Paris, benefiting from the opportunities offered by PSL to meet students from several schools and move among a variety of campuses.

The “Interdisciplinary Practices in Social Science (PDI)” course offers a unique curriculum. It combines the perspectives of three fundamental social science disciplines—anthropology, history, and sociology—while remaining open to subjects and questions addressed by other disciplines such as political science and economics.

  • Joint Master’s supervision: Nicolas MARIOT and Alexis SPIRE
  • Contact:



Applicants must hold a French Licence (Bachelor’s degree: 180 credits post-baccalaureate) or equivalent.
The application package includes a résumé, cover letter, thesis project (2 pages maximum), and academic transcripts for all undergraduate years.
The thesis project must be approved by a thesis director belonging to EHESS or ENS–PSL, who must sign page 2 of the registration.
Applicants are encouraged to learn about the option to simultaneously register for the École Normale Supérieure-PSL degree.


Applicants must provide proof of the first year of Master’s studies or a certificate demonstrating the successful completion of four years of higher education. EHESS degree holders may also apply for Master’s year 2.
Applicants must receive formal approval from a thesis director on a specific project (5 to 7 pages maximum including bibliography), to be included along with a résumé, cover letter, and academic transcripts for all undergraduate years plus M1 or equivalent.
Please note: the registration process is quite long and best started as early as possible.

Program organization

Twenty students are accepted into each incoming class, allowing for personal attention and supportive supervision.

  • Scientific writing: a specific course on reporting study results.
    The PDI track considers it very important for students to learn scientific writing; throughout the program, they are expected to present multiple texts demonstrating their ability to present a reasoned argument. Likewise, students write two research theses (80 pages in M1, 120 pages in M2), benefiting from personal supervision by a research director and special training in learning to write for social science.
  • Transdisciplinarity: open-mindedness to the various aspects of social science.
    Students wishing to reinforce the quantitative analysis aspect of their program may choose to take classes from the “Quantification in Social Science” track.
  • Field internship: practical training in field study work.
    This is one of the unique features of the PDI track: under the supervision of researchers in sociology, anthropology, and political science, students participate in a group study.

The first year of the Master’s enables all students to consolidate their foundation in the three core disciplines of PDI while learning investigative methods.
The “Disciplines” series is a panel of classes in each of the three disciplines considered scientific traditions as well as approaches and careers (“Anthropological approaches,” “Readings in History,” “Readings in Sociology”). It invites students to reflect upon the moving boundaries between disciplines, their history, and the connections and poaching that occurs between them. A fourth module focused on concrete applications of cross-disciplinarity (“Interdisciplinary Approaches”) rounds out the series. In 2019-2020, this class was taught by the “Popular Classes and Genders” group. Students must choose three of the four modules and are expected to opt for fields they have not yet had the opportunity to study.
The “Methods” series focuses on acquiring the skills required for social science studies (“Archives and sources,” “Quantitative approaches in social science,” “Ethnographical methods”). It aims to teach students methodologies and techniques for history, sociology, and anthropology. An immersive, one-week internship on field studies at the start of the first year, along with year-round research workshops where students become familiar with current research materials and contribute to their use and even publication, rounds out this program that teaches research by doing research.

The second year is designed to consolidate and build upon the skills acquired in M1.
The core curriculum is composed of four units: a “Interdisciplinarity in action” series that compares the perspectives of different disciplines on various research subjects; a professional development module that invites students to consider the opportunities open to them after M2; “Readings in the Social Sciences,” a course taught entirely in English that offers an introduction to English-language social science; and finally, a novel “Writers” series that presents the texts of a different classical social science writer each year and brings in researchers who use them in their work.

Education program

La maquette 2019-2020 est en cours d’élaboration.


S1 (30 ECTS)

Disciplines serie – 3 sur 4, for 9 ECTS
- Anthropological Approaches – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Readings in History – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Readings in Sociology – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Interdisciplinary Approaches (1) – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS

Topic Seminar – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS

Living Language / French as a Foreign Language (FLE) – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS

Ethnography field internship - 42 hrs, 12 ECTS

S2 (30 ECTS)

Methods series – 9 ECT
- Archives and Sources – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Ethnographic Methods – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS

Studies series – 2 of 3, for 6 ECTS
- Workshop: Introduction to Group Studies – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
- Producing Quantitative Data – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Processing Digital Data – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Methods Seminar – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS

Thesis Workshop and Thesis Writing – 24 hrs, 15 ECTS

Master’s Year 2 (60 ECTS)

S3 (30 ECTS)

Core curriculum seminars – 15 ECTS
- Readings in the Social Sciences – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
- Professional Skills Module – 18 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Interdisciplinarity in Action Series – 18 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Writers Series – 18 hrs, 3 ECTS

Topic Seminar 1 – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS

Research Workshop – 24 hrs, 9 ECTS

S4 (30 ECTS)

Topic Seminar 2 – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS

Workshop on writing and defending a research thesis – 24 ECTS
(1) Currently “Popular Classes and Genders”


The ambition of the program is to provide students with a material and intellectual environment for their Master’s and doctoral studies that facilitates their integration into a pedagogical and scientific community. A one-week residential internship allows all students in the program to learn the basics of ethnographic studies with support from many supervisors. The Jourdan site features a specialized social science library that is open to Master’s students. Familiarizing students with the international research scene is a priority, as is international student recruitment.


In keeping with the missions of its two overseeing schools (EHESS and ENS–PSL), the professional aim of the course is first and foremost to train students for careers in research. It is therefore expected that most students who have earned a PDI Master’s degree will continue their education by preparing a PhD.

The “Quantification in Social Science” track trains students to reflexively and rigorously use quantitative methods to answer research questions in sociology, anthropology, history, and political science. It provides solid training in social science and statistics, as well as a look upstream at how data are produced and downstream on how they are used.

  • Heads of the Master's program: Florence MAILLOCHON et Marie PLESSZ
  • Contact:


The track prepares students for research (doctoral studies) and also for employment, as an adviser to local or national government or a data analyst in surveying and public opinion research companies, think tanks, etc.


  • Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in a humanities or social science discipline (Economics, Political Science, Humanities, History, Geography, Sociology, Social Science, etc.). A basic understanding of statistics is expected (example: ability to interpret a crosstab and a chi-square test).
  • MIASH undergraduate degree

Program organization

Twenty students are accepted into each incoming class, allowing for personal attention and supportive supervision.

- Social Science: an in-depth curriculum with broad topical coverage
Students take classes in different disciplines that expand upon and diversify their original course of study.
They also have access to all seminars offered by the Social Science department at ENS-PSL, EHESS, and within PSL.

- Statistics: an innovative curriculum combining technical skills and reflexivity

  • Modules (course + integrated practicum) for each statistical method help students explore when it should be used, how it can be applied to the social sciences, its theoretical foundations, its implementation (in R and SAS), and how to interpret its results.
  • “Workshop” courses and group internships teach them to formulate research questions and answer them with the methods taught.
  • A common thread runs through all the courses: learning how data are constructed, which includes finding, collecting, or generating data and understanding their limits.

Education program

Master’s Year 1 (60 ECTS)

S1 (30 ECTS)
Discipline-Specific Seminar* – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
Socio-History of Statistics (in English) – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
Questionnaire Studies (Part 1) – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
Data management: Statistics Software – 36 hrs, 3 ECTS
Representativity and Statistical Links – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
Topic Seminar** – 24 hrs, 6 ECTSS
Living Language / FLE (French as a foreign language) – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS

S2 (30 ECTS)

Methods Series – 15 ECTS
- Producing Quantitative Data – 24 hrs, 3 ECTS
- Factor Analysis and Classifications – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
- Multiple Regressions – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
- Network Analysis (in English) – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
- M1 Thesis – 9 ECTS
- Practical Internship in Quantification (Part 2) – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
- Tools for Research – 18 hrs, 3 ECTS


S3 (30 ECTS)
Core curriculum seminars – 18 ECTS
- Modeling and Causal Identification – 28 hrs, 6 ECTS
- Data Mining and Cartography – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
- Longitudinal Analysis – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
Professional Skills Module – 18 hrs, 3 ECTS
Research Workshop – 24 hrs, 9 ECTS

S4 (30 ECTS)
Topic Seminar** – 24 hrs, 6 ECTS
Workshop on writing and defending a research thesis – 24 ECTS

* Students in the Quantification track select one module from the Disciplines series of the PDI track.
** Students in the Quantification track select one course from the list of recommended seminars distributed at the start of the year.


  • Use of open-source digital tools (R, Limesurvey, etc.) and traditional statistics software (SAS, Stata)
  • Connection to current research in quantitative analysis (machine learning, simulations, causal identification techniques)
  • Opportunities to learn the work of research both independently and in groups of all sizes (ranging from pairs to the entire class during research workshops)
  • Education through practice and connections with the professional world via partnerships (CREDOC, Observatoire du Samu Social de Paris, Maison des Volontaires)
  • Immersion in emerging research thanks to close ties with a renowned laboratory, the Centre Maurice Halbwachs (CMH) (CMH), on the campus
  • Personalized support by teachers and researchers: regular dialog when entering M1 and writing the research thesis in M2
  • Orientation and support in the search for internships with research institutions, in France and abroad. Our students have completed internships at Inserm, Inra, Ined, Ipsos, and L’Oréal, among others.
  • Collective work set up by and for the students throughout the year.


This major is designed mainly for students with an educational background in the social sciences (anthropology, history, political science, sociology) or multidisciplinary fields of study (such as political studies, economic and social administration, and graduates of the PSL CPES). It is also suitable for students with other backgrounds (in law, economics, literature, philosophy, mathematics, physics, biology, statistics) who wish to add a social sciences component or switch their focus. It can also benefit students who wish to train at a high level as cultural interpreters, or more mature students who, for personal or professional reasons, are interested in studying the social sciences.

Selection process

Candidates are selected on the basis of an application package. The entire application process is paperless. Applicants will need to submit their applications online at the EHESS application website at the start of the application cycle.

2023 Admissions Timeline

One round of admissions will take place. Application period: March 22 to April 18, 2023. Apply

Application items

For both tracks (Quantification and PDI), applications must include:

* Completed online application form
* Detailed résumé
* A cover letter. Applicants should indicate their projected area(s) of research and specify their intended track.
* A copy of the applicant’s post-secondary academic transcripts
* Copies of degrees earned (baccalaureate, Bachelor’s, etc.). Diplomas in languages other than French or English must be translated into French.

In addition, for the PDI track (M1 and M2) and the QESS track (M2 only):

* Research project

Note: for a stronger application to the PDI track (M1 and M2) and the QESS track (M2), applicants are highly encouraged to solicit approval from a thesis director belonging to EHESS or ENS (“Recommendations” section of the application website). [No research project for applicants to M1 of the QESS track.]

Tuition fees

For the 2021-2022 academic year, annual tuition was €243, plus the Student Life and Campus Contribution (CVEC tax), which is €100 per year. Learn more about the CVEC tax.

School for registration: Ecole normale supérieure-PSL or EHESS
Degree issued: National Master's degree issued by Université PSL



Heads of the Master's program: Marie Plessz & Nicolas Mariot

Interdisciplinary Practices track:
Quantification track:

Further information

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