What is the difference between “IEP” and “Sciences Po”?

The difference between an IEP and Sciences Po?

No difference at all!

This question comes up often, probably because we hear a lot about “Sciences Po” and rarely about the obscure, more administrative acronym of “IEP”.

What is an Institute of Political Studies

IEP is the acronym for the Institutesof PoliticalStudies. These are schools, even grandes écoles, where political science is studied. The traditional training is in five years, after the baccalaureate: it follows the typical path of higher education in France and in Europe.

There are currently 10 IEP in France:

The portal of the Parisian IEP indicates “Sciences Po

  1. IEP of Paris
  2. IEP of Strasbourg
  3. IEP of Bordeaux
  4. IEP Toulouse
  5. IEP of Grenoble
  6. IEP of Lyon
  7. IEP of Aix-en-Provence
  8. IEP of Lille
  9. IEP of Rennes
  10. IEP of Saint-Germain-en-Laye

As you may have noticed, there is an IEP in Paris which is none other than… Sciences Po Paris. The term IEP is therefore no more specific to regional Sciences Po than Sciences Po in Paris.

So why do we still use the Sciences Po brand?

One or more “Sciences Po”?

Sciences Po is the common and popular name for an IEP. There are therefore as many Sciences Po as there are IEPs. The “Sciences Po” brand is much better known internationally, and it makes more of an impression than the acronym IEP, which few people really know what it means. In a way, Sciences Po is the more stylish and famous alias than the very technocratic term IEP.

One “Sciences Po” has a special place: Sciences Po Paris. It is indeed the oldest institute, and to this day, it is the only independent one, not attached to a university.

The expression“Sciences Po“, when not followed by the name of a city, designates the Parisian IEP:“Sciences Po Paris“.

There is therefore only one Sciences Po, but several Sciences Po + city, as explained below.

Legal agreement on the Sciences Po brand

If today’s explanation is so simple and effective, it was not always the case. Rivalry and jealousy made the legal use of the expression “Sciences Po” very confusing.

For Sciences Po is in fact a trademark registered in 1988 by the Fondation nationale des sciences politiques, the same foundation that owns Sciences Po Paris.

To remove these obscurities, on January 30, 2015 an agreement was signed between the directors of the 10 French IEPs. The legal status is now that proposed by the Fondation nationale des sciences politiques in these terms:“each IEP may use this name if, and only if, it is followed by the name of the city in which it is located“.

Sciences Po Paris therefore retains the prerogative of using the shortcut “Sciences Po”, while the regional institutes must always add the name of their city.

From now on, you can proudly write the following list:

  1. Sciences Po (= Sciences Po Paris)
  2. Sciences Po Strasbourg
  3. Sciences Po Bordeaux
  4. Sciences Po Toulouse
  5. Sciences Po Grenoble
  6. Sciences Po Lyon
  7. Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence
  8. Sciences Po Lille
  9. Sciences Po Rennes
  10. Sciences Po Saint-Germain-en-Laye

IEP = Sciences Po.

2 thoughts on “What is the difference between “IEP” and “Sciences Po”?

  1. You can add this: In a joint statement (2015), the ten directors (including Paris) reaffirmed that “the National Foundation of Political Sciences is the only one authorized to use the name Sciences Po”. According to the will of the foundation, repeatedly affirmed, “each IEP can use this name if, and only if, it is followed by the name of the city in which it is located.” This explains why the many IEPs that emerged after the Parisian establishment are mostly known by these acronyms, such as “Sciences Po Lille” or “Sciences Po Grenoble”. This agreement only concerns the 10 IEPs. Not one moreover.

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