PROSFER (Programme of Sino-French Education for Research) is a joint graduate programme established in 2002 between East China Normal University (ECNU) and the ENS Group in France. It aims at attracting promising Chinese students to ENS graduate courses (taught in China), and training some selected PhD students in France within ENS laboratories as part of their joint doctorates.
ECNU students but also candidates from other Chinese universities, after their Bachelor's degree and the end of their first year of Master's at ECNU (Master's degrees are generally carried out in three years in China).
- Exact sciences : biology, chemistry, physics, computer science.
- Humanities and social sciences: history, philosophy, sociology, education.
Candidates must hand in a written application to the ECNU, and pass an interview with a jury composed of ENS and ECNU representatives. Students are selected based on their academic excellence and their proficiency in English, no matter what the field of study considered.
Most students are selected after they obtain their Bachelor's degree. The ENS-ECNU graduate programme lasts three years.
Some courses are given in English. Students in the exact sciences also have three hours of French language classes per week over that period, while students in the humanities have 8 hours of French lessons per week in the first two years of their Master's degree, and three hours in the third year.
At the end of the third year, the student is awarded a Master's degree from his or her Chinese home university (ECNU). All students of the ENS-ECNU programme also obtain a certificate from the ENS Group.
During their third year, the best students on the programme (a dozen each year) are selected by a committee. The selection conditions are based on their teachers' evaluations, their thesis project (which needs the support of a Thesis Director from a laboratory with ties to an ENS) and their language proficiency. The selected students can apply to a four-year grant from the China Scolarship Council that will allow them to pursue a PhD in one of France's ENS. Joint doctorates are also strongly encouraged. Exceptionally, exact sciences students on the fast-track programme can apply for a thesis in France during the second year of their Master's, as part of the established cooperation.