The CPES, a multidisciplinary process between preparation and permit

This selective three-year course, which takes place at a secondary school and university, leads to masters of excellence and the Grandes Ecoles.

Less than two years ago, only one CPES (multidisciplinary cycle of higher education) course appeared on Parcoursup. Today there are more than thirty. This hybrid license, between university and high school, allows students to gradually specialize† “If you’re in doubt between a preparatory class and a university, the CPES combines the best of both worlds,” estimates Rachel Schurhammer, director of the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Strasbourg (67) and responsible for the CPES of the establishment that opened to the start of the 2021 school year.

70% of courses in high school and 30% in college

This course is inspired by the course launched in 2012 between Paris Sciences et Lettres and the Lycée Henri IV. The students take part of the classes in a secondary school with teachers teaching CPGE (preparatory class for the Grandes Ecoles), and the other part in university. This is what delighted Guillaume, who is part of the first Strasbourg promotion. “On the one hand, at Lycée Kléber, we take highly supervised courses, which is reassuring. On the other hand, with university courses, we discover the Faculty of Geosciences.”

A step-by-step entry into higher education that is appreciated. In most subjects, in the first year, 70% of the courses take place in a secondary school compared to 30% in university. In the second year, this balances out eventually going to a majority, if not all, of the classes that take place in the third year in college.

Opened within the CPES in September 2021 by the University of Paris and the Janson de Sailly secondary school, this duality allows students to understand different pedagogies, emphasizes Charbel Massaad, deputy director of the Faculty of Basic and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Paris. “They have hours of khôlles, such as in preparation, but also practical courses where they carry out group projects at the university.”

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The CPES gives a prominent place to multidisciplinarity

The other asset of the CPES lies in its multidisciplinarity. At the University of Côte d’Azur (06), students enroll in two courses “Humanities, Letters and Society” or “Sciences and Society” in the first year, then they choose two main subjects and finally a specialization. “A bit like secondary school reform,” emphasizes Ali Douai, economics teacher, also responsible for the course that will start in 2022.

Others are mainly scientific but offer different coursessuch as within the University of Paris with a course in biomedical and pharmaceutical innovation and an environment and new energies course.

At the University of Bordeaux (33), which will open its CPES at the beginning of the following school year, the training consists of disciplinary lessons “but also transversal, that allow to develop soft skills (relational skills, editor’s note) and multidisciplinary, tackling contemporary issues from different disciplines,” explains Samuel Maveyraud, vice president of finance of the establishment.

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Choose recommended scientific specialties

This demanding and selective course is designed for high school students with a solid level. To assess this, high school grades are scrutinized in Parcoursup. “We will pay more attention to the notes of the subject lessons than to the choice of these lessons: there are no compulsory doublets,” warns Samuel Maveyraud.

But for science courses, it is preferable to take specialisms related to science, warn those responsible for training. “But what we are mainly looking for is the originality and curiosity of the candidate, warns Charbel Massaad. The motivated training project will be very important for this.”

The aim of the CPES is to make it possible to the social diversity in elite education, hence the high percentage of scholarship holders in this course. At the end, the students can progress to the entrance exams of the Grandes Ecoles (Commerce, Engineers or IEP), but also in university courses of excellence.

After graduating from CPES PSL – Henri IV, Mégane entered a journalism school. “To keep learning,” she laughs. Among his classmates, more than half have followed a selective master’s degree in France or abroad, the others have started a Grande Ecole.

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