École centrale de Nantes

École Centrale de Nantes, or Centrale Nantes, is a Grande École d'Ingénieurs - a French elite engineering school - established in 1919 under the name of Institut Polytechnique de l'Ouest. It aims to deliver Graduate, Master, and PhD Programs based on the latest scientific and technological developments and the best management practices.

École Centrale de Nantes
MottoShake the future
TypePublic, Graduate engineering
DirectorArnaud Poitou
Academic staff
Students2410 students
47°14′55″N 1°32′53″W
AffiliationsEcoles Centrale Group,

Centrale Nantes is a member of the Ecoles Centrale Group, alongside its partner institutions CentraleSupélec, Centrale Lille, Centrale Lyon, Centrale Marseille, and Centrale Beijing. It is also a member of the TIME (Top Industrial Managers for Europe) network, that enables student exchanges among the leading engineering institutions in Europe.


The Centrale Nantes campus is situated in the heart of Nantes, France in the Pays de la Loire region. Nantes is two hours by train from Paris. Nantes is the sixth largest city in France, located along the banks of the Loire 50 km away from the Atlantic coast.


Centrale Nantes was founded in 1919. First known under the name Institut Polytechnique de l'Ouest, it was renamed Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique (ENSM) in 1948 when it became an Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Ingénieurs. Thirty years later, the school relocated to new premises - the current site on the banks of the River Erdre. In 1991, it became, by decree published in the Official Journal, the Ecole Centrale de Nantes, joining the newly created Ecoles Centrale Group. As a member of this group, it offers a Centralien multi-disciplinary engineering programme.

In 1993 the school became an 'EPCSCP', a public institution with a scientific, cultural and professional vocation. Centrale Nantes joined forces with Centrale Lille in 2006 within the Fondation Centrale Initiatives, and with Centrale Lyon in 2009 creating a joint subsidiary for the development of research: Centrale Innovation. In 2011, the school became a member of France AEROTECH.[1] Centrale Nantes formed a structuring alliance with Audencia Business School in 2013 and ensa Nantes (Nantes School of Architecture) in 2014.

Reputation and Rankings

Centrale Nantes is consistently mentioned among the top engineering schools in France in several national and international rankings[2]. According to the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject, out of only 903 establishments ranked worldwide for Engineering & Technology, Centrale Nantes is in the top 200 for 2019. This ranking places the school at the 60th position in Europe, the top 5 in France and number one outside the capital. In the 2018 QS World University Rankings by Subject Centrale Nantes was ranked between 251st and 300th in the world for mechanical engineering and between 401st and 450th for the broader category of engineering and technology.

Nationally, Centrale Nantes is ranked joint 4th out of the 174 French engineering schools by L'Etudiant and 5th out of 130 French engineering schools by L'Usine Nouvelle in 2019.


Centrale Nantes trains 360 students per year within its general engineering programme leading to the 'diplôme d'ingénieur' equivalent to a Master of Science and Engineering. This qualification is awarded to students after a total of five years of higher education. The admissions process is highly selective. French students with excellent high school results spend two years in the intensive 'classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles' preparing for the 'concours' - competitive entrance examinations to French engineering schools. Successful candidates then undertake three years of study at Centrale Nantes - corresponding to the senior undergraduate year and two graduate years.

Centrale Nantes has a very diverse body welcoming over 43% international students at undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate level through academic partnerships, exchange or double degree programs, or research internships.

Undergraduate programme

At undergraduate-level a four-year Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Engineering at Centrale Nantes Mauritius Campus opened in Autumn 2016 to respond to the increasing demand for engineering education in Africa and the Indian Ocean.


Centrale Nantes offers 6 Masters of Science, Technology and Health - in marine technology, mechanical engineering, control and robotics, civil engineering, city and urban environment, and industrial engineering. A number of specialisms are proposed within each Master programme, taught almost entirely in English:

  • Marine Technology: Hydrodynamics for Ocean Engineering; Atlantic Master on Ship Operation & Naval Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering: Advanced Manufacturing; Computational Mechanics; Energetics and Propulsion; Advanced Composite Engineering and Science
  • Control and Robotics: Signal and Image Processing; Advanced Robotics; Embedded Real Time Systems; Control Systems;
  • Civil Engineering: Materials and Structures in their Environment
  • City and Urban Environments: Atmosphere, Water and Urban Environment; Ambiances, Architecture, Urbanity
  • Industrial Engineering: Agile Factory Management; Smart and Connected Enterprise

Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees (EMJMD)

An Eramus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) is a prestigious, integrated, international study programme, jointly delivered by an international consortium of higher education institutions. Centrale Nantes is involved in four EMJMDs:

  • Master of Science in Computational Mechanics
  • European Master on Advanced Robotics (EMARO+) - co-ordinated by Centrale Nantes
  • EMship Advanced Design Master
  • Master in Renewable Energy in the Marine Environment (REM)

Double Degree and Exchange Programmes

Aeronautics; Civil Engineering; Computer Science; Connected Home for Healthcare; Data Analysis and Applications in Signal and Image Processing; Digital City; Digital Sciences for Life Sciences and Healthcare; Embedded Control and Power Grids; Energy Production and Management; Engineering Science for Housing and Urban Environment; Scientific Challenge 2024; Industrial Engineering; Management of Digital Business and Information Technologies; Mathematics and Applications; Mechanical Engineering for Materials and Manufacturing Processes; Modelling and Simulation in Mechanics; Ocean: Hydrodynamics and Marine Engineering; Product Engineering; Propulsion and Transport; Robotics; Virtual Reality

In their final year students also follow a professional option, honing in on a particular sector of activity or company function:

Business Finance; Entrepreneurship; International Business Development; Manager, Leader, Communicator; Perception and Sound Design; Personal Project; Research and Development; Science and Music; Engineering for Ecological Transition; Disrupt'Campus Nantes; Engineering and digital sciences for art, culture and heritage.

Throughout the engineering programme there is a strong emphasis on business and social sciences as well as first-hand professional experience through internships. Students also study two modern languages, sports and leadership.


Opportunities exist for PhD study across numerous fields at Centrale Nantes in collaboration with the doctoral school ED SPI (Sciences pour l'Ingénieur - Sciences for Engineering). Scientific production each year, on average, leads to 30 to 35 doctoral theses.


Centrale Nantes collaborates with numerous industrial and educational partners within France as well internationally.

National partnerships

Centrale Nantes is a public institution and as such falls within the scope of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The Ministry prepares and implements policy on the development of higher education and in the field of research and technology, and is responsible for the allocation of state resources and funds.

As one of the Ecoles Centrale Group alongside CentraleSupélec, Centrale Lyon, Centrale Lille, Centrale Marseille and Centrale Beijing, Centrale Nantes offers students the possibility of an exchange with another Centrale establishment.

In 2014 the Alliance Centrale - Audencia - ensa Nantes was created, bringing together Centrale Nantes, Audencia Business School and l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Nantes. This strategic alliance brings together engineering, business studies, architecture and design. The double degree programmes in 'Engineering and Management' and 'Engineering and Architecture' are a further example of their active collaboration.

Centrale Nantes has numerous additional French academic partners, listed below:

  • Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique
  • IMT Atlantique
  • Ecole Navale
  • Ecole Supérieure d'Agriculture d'Angers
  • ITII
  • Université Bretagne Loire - a community of universities and institutions federating seven universities, 15 grandes écoles and five research organisations in Brittany and the Pays de la Loire regions.

International partnerships

Student mobility is fostered by Centrale Nantes' participation in international networks - T.I.M.E., RMEI, Magalhaes and Heritage Network.

Centrale Nantes has a history of active participation in Erasmus+ Programmes: with notably four Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Programmes and numerous mobility programmes for higher education staff and students under key action 1. Within Key action 2, Centrale Nantes is and has been involved as a partner and or co-ordinator of numerous programmes.

Centrale Nantes currently has 177 academic partners across 55 different countries.

Industrial partnerships

Centrale Nantes works with its industrial partners.

For students these close links come in various forms: company visits, internships, projects, participation in examination boards, sponsorship of options, participation of external speakers in courses, conferences, partner days, interview simulations, job or internship offers. The frequent interaction between students and companies greatly contributes to the professional integration of graduates. The school also forges close links with companies and networks in West of France (start-ups, SMEs, professional branches, Chambers of Commerce and Industry etc.).

Centrale Nantes' industrial partners include Airbus Group, Atos Worldline, Bouygues Batiment, Mondelez International, Orange, Naval Group, Safran, Sopra Steria, to name but a few.


Research at Centrale Nantes is carried out in six highly competitive laboratories:

  • High Performance Computing Institute (ICI)
  • Jean Leray Mathematical Institute
  • Laboratory of Digital Sciences of Nantes (LS2N)
  • Research Institute in Civil and Mechanical Engineering (GeM)
  • Research Laboratory in Hydrodynamics, Energetics & Atmospheric Environment (LHEEA)
  • Urban Architecture Nantes Research Centre (AAU)


Centrale Nantes Alumni[3] is the alumni network of Centrale Nantes. Dating back to 1922, it has over 17,000 alumni today. It organises over 400 events per year designed to maintain ties and foster solidarity amongst its members. The association also helps members boost their careers, promotes the school's image and diploma, and acts as a contact point for its members with students, the school and industry.

Centrale Nantes Alumni is a member of the wider Centralien network which allows for joint actions for the whole Centrale community (Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Marseille, CentraleSupélec) in France and in 44 other countries.

See also


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