PSL Bachelor's degree - Positive impact

Program type : Initial Training
Degree : Bachelor
Discipline(s) : Sustainable development, Environment, Geoscience, Earth sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Design, Economics, Geography - Geopolitics, Business Administration - Management, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Life Sciences, Sociology
Place : Paris
Domains : Humanities & social sciences, Engineering, Fundamental Sciences
Teaching language : French, English
Internship required
Prerequisites : High school diploma

Starting in September 2019, PSL is introducing an innovative new interdisciplinary program for future high school graduates: a three-year undergraduate curriculum based on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Bandeau Positive impact

A new interdisciplinary curriculum based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

PSL’s new Positive Impact degree* (undergraduate degree in sustainability sciences) is designed to produce students who can examine the challenges posed by sustainable development in all their complexity, from the various scientific problems they raise to their political, social and cultural implications and potential technological solutions. The aim is not to produce experts in sustainable development at the undergraduate level, but rather students who have acquired the necessary mindset to tackle those challenges and who will pursue graduate-level studies at top universities in France or abroad, while maintaining the intellectual habits they acquired as undergraduates. 
*The three-year program culminates in an institutional degree issued by Université PSL.

Learning outcomes 

Designed in close connection with research under way at PSL laboratories, this unique undergraduate program is based on a comprehensive approach that necessarily encompasses a wide range of disciplines, with the aim of training future generations in the Sustainable Development Goals. It is modeled on the PSL undergraduate curriculum (the CPES Multidisciplinary Preparatory Class and Paris-Dauphine Bachelor’s programs): educational excellence and gradual specialization over three years, with a solid multidisciplinary foundation. The SDGs will serve as the common thread for these interdisciplinary projects and imbue the basic instruction. Some of the coursework and activities will be shared with other Bachelor’s-level instructional programs at PSL.

Offering veritable training for the mind, the program is structured around six principal areas:

  • A solid multidisciplinary foundation that combines physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and engineering as well as the humanities, economics and social science (sociology and political science, philosophy and ethics, geography, management, etc.).
  • Project-mode instruction that is interdisciplinary and team-based, along with internships and practical case studies presented in part by public and private organizations, to give students an interdisciplinary perspective on the broad issues related to the SDGs.  
  • Development of behavioral skills (creativity, adaptability, community-mindedness, motivation, communication, reasoning, rhetoric, emotional intelligence, etc.).
  • Development of professional know-how (project management, lifecycle analysis, impact analysis, digital skills, linguistic and intercultural skills, etc.).
  • An annual series of lectures presented by researchers and others who are actively involved in SDG issues and open to a broader student body.
  • Student participation in projects connected with the SDGs in the form of mandatory projects or internships that earn ECTS credits.

In order to reinforce their learning, students will also have the option of taking part in exchange or gap-year programs with partner universities. The share of the instruction given in English will increase over the course of the three-year curriculum.

Diploma issued: an institutional degree issued by Université PSL (i.e., not the French government) (diploma currently under construction).

Tuition: Enrollment fees are aligned with France’s national tuition for Bachelor’s-degree programs (€170 in 2018-2019). Students receiving need-based scholarships are exempted.

This program benefits from the corporate patronage of BNPP.

  • A top-tier interdisciplinary curriculum based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals
  • Innovative project-based learning
  • Collaboration among various PSL institutions covering every area of study: science, humanities, the arts, etc.
  • Close interaction with private businesses and organizations: conferences, internships, research projects, case studies, etc.
  • Varied teaching formats: small class sizes, practicums, lectures, seminars, group work, mentoring.
  • A unique curriculum that is fully committed to equal opportunity and attracts a diverse student body from complementary backgrounds within each academic class (with need-based scholarships available).
  • Immersion in an advanced international research ecosystem, working closely with major laboratories and scientific innovation.
  • An international study environment, with an increasing share of the instruction given in English over the course of the three-year program.
  • An unequaled campus life in the very heart of Paris, benefiting from the opportunities available at Université PSL to meet students from several institutions and move among a variety of campuses.
  • A curriculum that draws heavily on ground-breaking  programs in the field of sustainable development led by PSL and its academic ecosystem: Tara Oceans with France’s CNRS, the Corail Labex with EPHE and EHESS, the Sustainable Finance Labex with ILB, the Migrations and Societies chair at Collège de France, the Climate Economics chair at Paris-Dauphine, the PSL-Environnement Flagship Research Program, instruction in sustainable development at ISIGE-MINES ParisTech, and more.

Students are admitted to PSL’s Positive Impact Bachelor’s degree program on the basis of an application and interview, using criteria such as academic performance, level of commitment and motivation.

Our admissions process prioritizes diverse student backgrounds and experience, directly in line with Université PSL’s proactive equal opportunity policy.
Backed by the quality of the student advisory services and the efficacy of the support services offered (scholarships, housing, etc.), the curriculum will give students the opportunity to discover and capitalize on their specific abilities – a primary condition for academic and professional success.
Thirty candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds will be selected to comprise the inaugural class.
Note: In September 2019 (2019-2020 academic year), only applications for the first year of the Positive Impact degree program will be accepted.

Who should apply?

To apply for the first year of a Bachelor’s degree program, you must have completed (or be in the process of obtaining):

  • a general secondary education French baccalauréat diploma (obtained in France or abroad)
  • or a secondary education diploma obtained abroad that is recognized as equivalent to the baccalauréat.  

The following criteria will be particularly important in evaluating the applications:

  • A high degree of intellectual curiosity and a passion for hybrid disciplines.
  • An inclination toward reflection (analysis) as well as action (entrepreneurialism).
  • An interest in every aspect of sustainable development issues (economic, social, cultural, environmental) and significant underlying topics (energy transition, inclusion, etc.).
  • The desire and ability to work as part of a team, interpersonal skills. 
  • Adaptability in an uncertain environment that offers contact with people who range widely in their backgrounds and expertise.
  • A critical mindset along with reasoning skills and the ability to express yourself (orally and in writing).
  • Excellent command of languages: English (B2) and French (B2/C1).

Each candidate’s involvement in organizations and motivation will also be among the criteria assessed by the admissions panel.

Selection process 

Based on application and interviews for eligible candidates.
Applications must be submitted online at PSL’s application website.
 - Submit your application
The entire admissions process is online: there are no additional documents to be mailed to the admissions office.
2019 Admissions Timeline
•    Application submission: March 6 - April 22, 2019
•    Eligibility results: May 10, 2019
•    Interviews with eligible candidates: May 18 and 25, 2019
•    Admission results: early June 2019

Application package
In addition to completing the online application in full, candidates for the program’s first year must include the following with their application:
•    Academic transcripts from the first and last years of high school (candidates in their final year of high school during 2018-2019 may present their academic record for the first two trimesters or first semester),
- Candidates who have obtained the baccalauréat must include their academic record for the third trimester of their final year of high school, their baccalauréat results and their transcript from university-level courses, if any.
- Candidates who are preparing for a diploma equivalent to the baccalauréat at an educational institution outside France must also provide a translation of their academic transcript and a certificate of French language proficiency if French is not the country’s official language (level C1). If the supporting documentation cannot be obtained by April 22, 2019 (the closing date for online submission of applications), candidates may present it at the time of administrative registration. If the candidate is selected, admission will be contingent on receipt of the documentation. 
•    Scores from the preliminary baccalauréat examinations.
•    Personal statement (four mandatory questions)
•    Contact information for an academic reference or referee (one recommendation required). Candidates may optionally provide contact information for one non-academic reference (related to an organization, project, internship, etc.).
•    Copy of a photo ID. 
•    CV (optional).

Admissions guidelines

Thanks to its multidisciplinary nature and gradual specialization, the three-year program will enable students to develop the expertise sought by top-level universities and the professional world.
The PSL Positive Impact Bachelor’s degree program, like all of PSL’s undergraduate offerings, is designed to be the foundation for further study to at least the Master’s level. At the end of three years, students may continue their studies at PSL (e.g, a graduate degree in one or multiple disciplines, study at the major engineering schools, etc.) or at another selective, top-ranked university in France or worldwide.

Examples of opportunities at PSL:

- In the sciences: 
• Master’s degree in Energy (the challenges posed by carbon-free energy). 
• Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering, particularly the “Materials, Design and Innovation” program, which relates to housing and energy storage. 
• Master’s degree in Life Sciences, particularly the “ Biodiversity and environment” track. 
• Master’s degree in Earth and Planetary Science, Environment

- In the humanities and economic and social sciences: 
• Master’s degree in International Affairs and Development, particularly the “Peace Studies” and “Sustainable Development and Responsibilities of Organizations” programs 
• Master’s degree in Public Policy
• Master’s degree in Applied Economics
• Master’s degree in Institutions, Organizations, Economics and Society
• Master’s degree in Innovation Management
• Master’s degree in Management & Organizations

Discover PSL Master's degrees

> How many candidates will be accepted in 2019?
Thirty students will be accepted in 2019 to join the first year of the Bachelor’s degree program.

> Which PSL institutions will provide the instruction? 
Multiple PSL institutions will be involved in the curriculum so as to cover a wide range of disciplines in both science and engineering and the humanities and social sciences.
They include for example MINES ParisTech, Chimie ParisTech, EPHE, ENSAD, etc.

> How do I apply for the first year of the program? 
Candidates are asked to submit their applications online at PSL’s application website. Applications are 100% paperless. Refer to the program factsheet to learn more about submitting an application.

> What is the overall grade point average required for acceptance?
Candidates are not selected on the basis of their overall average, which varies widely by school. The initial review of the application will be based on several criteria, including the candidate’s grades in general, class rank and motivation. Candidates should have a strong record in every subject, given the multidisciplinary nature of the program. 

> Is it necessary to submit a personal statement with the application?
Yes. The personal statement is an integral part of the application. The statement includes four questions and follows a prescribed format. Refer to the factsheet for more information.

> Is it necessary to submit a letter of reference with the application?
To complete your application, you must submit the contact information for an academic reference or referee via PSL’s application website (Recommendations tab). The entire application process is handled online; you do not need to submit a letter of reference to the admissions office. We recommend, however, that you notify your reference or referee in advance that they will be contacted by PSL as part of your application for the Positive Impact Bachelor’s degree program.

> Is a French baccalauréat required for acceptance?
No, the curriculum is open to all, including students who have obtained (or will have obtained) an equivalent diploma from an institution outside France. They will be asked to provide a translation of their academic transcript and a certificate of French language proficiency (if French is not the country’s official language) as part of their application.

> What level of proficiency in French is required in order to apply?
DALF exam - CA.

> What level of proficiency in English is required in order to apply?

> Is it possible to apply directly for the second or third year of the Bachelor’s degree program?
In 2019, only applications for the first year of the Positive Impact degree program will be accepted.

> I’m in a preparatory curriculum or already attending university and would like to change my current path. Can I apply for the Positive Impact Bachelor’s degree program?
Yes. Students who have already successfully completed one or two years of higher education study (Grandes Écoles preparatory classes or university coursework) and are looking for a change in academic path may apply. However, in 2019 they will need to enroll as a first-year student in the program.

> What is the enrollment fee for French students, foreign students and scholarship students?
For 2019-2020, enrollment fees are aligned with France’s national tuition for Bachelor’s-degree programs (€170 in 2018-2019). Students receiving need-based scholarships are exempted.

> Where will the courses be taught?
All courses will be taught in Paris. 

> What degree is conferred on graduates of the program?
Graduates obtain an institutional degree issued by Université PSL (i.e., not the French government). They may then pursue graduate-level study at France’s top-ranked universities or at universities worldwide.

> Does the degree program only prepare students for careers in sustainable development or corporate social responsibility?
No. This degree program sets the stage for a wide array of career opportunities. Its aim is to produce students who are responsible, informed citizens, prepared to tackle the challenges of sustainable development in all their complexity, rather than simply experts or specialists in sustainable development. Consequently, students who complete the curriculum will find that every door is open. They may enroll in any number of Master’s degree programs and grandes écoles (see Opportunities). Based on the specialization they select in the program’s second year, they may choose to enter a variety of occupations (engineer, economist, etc.), whether in the private sector, the civil service, international or community organizations or research institutions.

> Does PSL offer orientation services to international students?
The PSL Welcome Desk assists students with administrative tasks before and after their arrival and offers a series of cultural activities throughout the year. Welcome Desk staff can help students renew residence permits, obtain housing and insurance, navigate the healthcare and transportation systems and find campus jobs. They also organize visits to museums, language exchange partnerships, karaoke nights and more.


2019/20 Applications

From March 6, to April 22 2019

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