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The SACRe – PSL doctorate in art and creation

Bringing the sciences and the arts closer together, enabling creators and scientists to work and invent together, viewing research as creation and creation as research: these are the ambitions of the Sciences, Arts, Creation, Research doctoral program.



A new type of doctorate in art

The purpose of this doctorate in art and creation is to bring together artists, creators, and theorists in science, humanities, and social sciences to work on creation and research.

This doctoral program stems from cooperation among six schools:

  • The Conservatoire national supérieur d'art dramatique (CNSAD)
  • The Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (CNSMDP)
  • The École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (EnsAD)
  • The École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts (ENSBA)
  • The Ecole normale supérieure (ENS-Ulm), which is unique in bringing together students in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences
  • La Fémis - École nationale supérieure des métiers de l’image et du son.

Other PSL members also participate in the program (Collège de France, Chimie ParisTech, ESPCI ParisTech, Université Paris Dauphine).


Inspired by examples of university curriculums abroad and by the distinctive history of its member schools and conservatories, SACRe has been designed as a platform of exchanges, synergies, and intersections for categories of activity that are separated by French universities: the sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, and the practices of creation.
Its objective is to encourage the development of creative and reflexive projects that are original in their methods and in their results, based on the theme indicated in the name of this doctoral program ("Sciences, Arts, Creation, Research").
SACRe represents a new approach to high-level theoretical research and artistic practice in the French university landscape, affirming the possibility of joint fields of study.
A program of excellence intended for students with a very high artistic, technical and intellectual level, SACRe recruits students after the Master's (Master 2) level or after an equivalent course of study (i.e. five years of university-level studies).

Admission through competitive examination

The competitive entrance examination for the program is open to artists and designers who wish to cooperate with other creators and performers (musicians, visual artists, theater artists, etc.) and with scientists, and who meet the conditions for enrollment at university and hold a Master's degree (Master 2) or equivalent, or who have a French or foreign graduate-degree diploma.
This program offers PhD students both specific training adapted to their creation projects (at the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, as part of EnsadLab) and training for all SACRe PhD students enrolled in the various partner institutions, which includes workshops, seminars, master classes, study sessions, and publications, etc.
The École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs includes 10 departments of specialization and also offers a research laboratory (EnsadLab) as well as many artistic, technical, and technological resources.

  1. Ten candidates : Ten candidates are chosen each year based on their artistic potential and their interest in interdisciplinary studies. They all receive 3-year funding. Balance among the artistic fields (art, music, theater, design) is guaranteed, as is representation of other academic disciplines.
  2.  Doctoral thesis on art and creation : The thesis, supervised by a university professor and an artist, consists of : (for artists:) a set of artistic works or performances, accompanied by a document (in text, audiovisual, or multimedia form) putting their work in perspective; (for academics:) a traditional written work, which focuses on the process of creation as such. In both cases, participation in at least one interdisciplinary project with other SACRe doctoral students, artists, or scientists is required to validate the PhD.Joint instruction
  3. Joint instruction is organized for SACRe PhD students via classes (theory and history of arts), seminars, and workshops. Some will be in English. This training encourages interdisciplinary studies and a feeling of belonging among the PhD students. Each institution contributes according to its own means. SACRe will interconnect harmoniously with currently existing post-masters programs, proposing many synergies.
  4. How to apply : Registration for application must be done by Internet and the full application sent by registered letter to:

Ecole nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs
EnsadLab / SACRe
A l’attention de Catherine Renoux
31 rue d’Ulm
75240 Paris Cedex 05

List of documents to submit:

  • Copy of the required diploma (Master's or equivalent)
  • CV
  • Letter of motivation in French, explaining why the candidate is interested in this program
  • A "thesis project" document (10 typed pages, maximum 20 pages with visuals) presenting the candidate's project and its relevancy to the SACRe doctoral program. This document may be in French or in English
  • Insofar as possible, a letter of acceptance from the "thesis director"
  • An artistic portfolio in paper format, presenting the evolution and recent developments of the candidate's works. For digital works that may accompany the file, only DVD format is authorized. Only a selection of excerpts (maximum 10 minutes) will be viewed by the jury
  • Photocopy of ID or passport
  • One self-addressed envelope sufficiently large for the return of the portfolio.

Course of study
The SACRe degree course lasts three years—the theoretical length of a PhD program. It includes one or two semesters abroad (PSL facilitates this experience materially and financially).
This study abroad can be carried out in an institution that already has exchange ties with the School or with which PSL will have signed a partnership. This may be a university (Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martin's School, UBC-UQAM Québec, CAFA Beijing or CAA Hangzhou, Tokyo Geddai) or another type of artistic or cultural institution (museum, art center, orchestra, opera, academy, etc.), a major creation and research institution (Villa Médicis, Casa Velasquez, Villa Médicis Hors les Murs, etc.), a scientific laboratory, or a department of arts and humanities (for academic PhD students).
During the period in which the doctoral student resides in France, instruction takes place in Paris, at the partner schools and laboratories where the PhD student's personal project is developed (the "specific training"). It also includes participation in joint actions and attendance at seminars or workshops proposed by the École doctorale 540 or that are specific to SACRe.

PhD oral examination
The crowning achievement of the three years of instruction (which may be extended, subject to conditions) is the awarding of the doctoral degree, after an oral examination to defend the thesis before a jury.
The jury makes and announces its decision during this session. Their assessment is based on the following criteria, in accordance with the elements described in the "Studies" section.
1. The student's personal work
For the students who are artists and creators, this means the creation or performance of a "work," in the specific meaning of the term, differing  according to the discipline.  

2. The production of a document or set of documents, generically known as "portfolio". This includes a text, but with no specific format.
The PhD student can also use another means of expression (i.e. preferred media).

3. The PhD student's cycle of training over the three or four years: validation implies participation in the interdisciplinary training program described above and (save for exceptions) study at a foreign institution.

4. The production by the doctoral student, during these years and parallel to his or her personal work, of at least one project carried out in conjunction with another artistic field or academic discipline.

For all PhD students, mention of the doctoral program and name of the training institution will precede the SACRe-PSL label. Example: Doctorat d'Art et de Création, CNSAD/SACRe-PSL, or CNSMDP/SACRe-PSL, or ENSAD/SACRe-PSL, or Ensba/SACRe-PSL.

For more information, contact :

Emmanuel Mahé, Head of Research

No age limit