École nationale d'administration

École nationale d'administration
Type Public
Established 1945
Director Nathalie Loiseau[1]
Administrative staff
Undergraduates 0
Postgraduates 533 students
Location Strasbourg, France
Website www.ena.fr

The École nationale d'administration (ENA; French pronunciation: [ekɔl nasjɔnal dadministʁasjɔ̃]; English: National School of Administration) is one of the most prestigious French grandes écoles, created in 1945 by Michel Debré to democratise access to the senior civil service. It is now entrusted with the selection and initial training of senior French officials. It is one of the most elitist French schools, both because of its acceptance rates and because a large majority of its candidates have already graduated from the best graduate schools in the country such as École Normale Supérieure, École Polytechnique or HEC Paris. The ENA thus stands as one of the symbols of the meritocracy, along with the other grandes écoles, offering its alumni access to high positions in the public and private sectors.

Originally located in Paris, it has now been almost completely relocated to Strasbourg to emphasise its European character, and is now based in the former Commanderie Saint-Jean, though it continues to maintain a campus in Paris. ENA produces around 80 to 90 graduates every year, known as étudiants-fonctionnaires (IPA: [enaʁk]). In 2002 the Institut international d'administration publique (IIAP) which educated foreign civil servants under a common structure with ENA was fused with it.


The Commanderie Saint-Jean, home of the École nationale d'administration

Access to senior position of the French civil service is threefold : first, through generalist civil service positions which ENA leads to, second, through "technical" (engineering) positions, mainly after École polytechnique, third through internal promotion.

ENA was created in 1945 to make recruitment for various high administrative bodies more rational and democratic. Before its creation, each ministry had its own competitive exam and this could lead sometimes to some kind of nepotism or influences. According to the new approach, a system solely based on academic proficiency and competitive examinations makes recruitment to top positions more transparent without suspicion of political or personal preference.

Recruitment and exit procedures

Admission to ENA is granted based on a competitive examination taking place from the end of August to November, which people generally take after completing studies at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris or any Prép'Ena (preparatory classes for the ENA examination for people coming from universities or grandes écoles). The "concours externe" exam is divided into two parts :

The written part includes:
- An essay on public law;
- An essay on economics;
- An essay on "general knowledge" (culture générale, common in French competitive exams);
- A note de synthèse (analyzing a 40 to 70 page document and proposing a brief for a Senior Executive [Minister or Director]) either on Social Law and Policies (Questions Sociales) or on European topics ("Questions européennes");
- Three questions on Public Finance.
The oral exam, taken only by those with the highest marks at the written exam, consists of:
- An oral examination on International Politics (Questions Internationales);
- An oral examination either on Questions Européennes (European Law and Policies) or on Social Law and Policies;
- An English oral test;
- A collective exam, simulating a case in management to assess interaction skills;
- A 45-minute entrance exam, known as Grand Oral since any question can be asked, based on the CV given by the candidate.

Results of this exam process are published by the end of December.

Other exam processes govern admission for career civil servants (concours interne) and for all other people, already active in business, political or union activities (troisième concours).

Following a two-year intensive programme combining high-responsibility internships and examinations, ENA ranks students according to their results. Students are then asked, by order of merit, the position/body they want to join. Top-ranked students (between 12 to 15 students) usually join the so-called "grands corps" Inspection générale des finances, Conseil d'État or Cour des comptes, usually followed by the French Treasury and the diplomatic service. Other students will join various ministries and administrative justice or préfectures. To quote ENA's site:[2]

In fact, although these famous alumni are the most visible, the majority are largely unknown, lead quiet and useful careers in our civil service, and don't recognise themselves in the stereotyped images about our school.


Academic years at ENA are known as promotions, and are named by the students after outstanding French (Vauban, Saint-Exupéry, Rousseau), Foreigners (Mandela), characters (Cyrano de Bergerac), battles (Valmy), concepts (Croix de Lorraine, Droits de l'homme) or values (liberté-égalité-fraternité).

This tradition comes from old French military schools such as the Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr.


In 2011, the Mines ParisTech : Professional Ranking World Universities ranked the ENA 3rd best university in France and 9th in the world according to the number of alumni holding CEO position at Fortune Global 500 companies.


Very few énarques (around 1%) actually get involved in politics. Most ENA alumni hold apolitical, technical positions in the French civil service. Researchers at the French National Centre for Scientific Research have shown that many ENA alumni become business executives in France.[3]

French law makes it relatively easy for civil servants to enter politics: civil servants who are elected or appointed to a political position do not have to resign their position in the civil service; instead, they are put in a situation of "temporary leave" known as disponibilité. If they are not re-elected or reappointed, they may ask for their reintegration into their service (see Lionel Jospin and Philippe Séguin for examples). In addition, ENA graduates are often recruited as aides by government ministers and other politicians; this makes it easier for some of them to enter a political career. As an example, Dominique de Villepin entered politics as an appointed official, after serving as an aide to Jacques Chirac, without ever having held an elected position. ENA also participates in international Technical Assistance programmes, funded by the EU or other donors.

According to an international classification, the École nationale d'administration ranks ninth among higher education institutions in the world, with regard to the performance of their training programmes, based on the number of alumni among the Chief Executive Officers of the 500 leading worldwide companies.[4]

Since its creation 60 years ago, the ENA has trained 5600 French senior officials and 2600 foreigners. Some famous alumni include:

International cooperation


An agreement was signed in Paris on 16 October 2012 between ENA and the Uzbek Academy of administration which envisages cooperation in modernization of state administration and improving skills of public servants on Uzbekistan. The first cooperation will begin in January 2013.[6]

See also


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Coordinates: 48°34′50″N 7°44′14″E / 48.58056°N 7.73722°E / 48.58056; 7.73722

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