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Studies to become an Egyptologist

Several courses are possible to train in Egyptology, each approaching the ancient Egyptian civilization from a specific angle and complementary to the others.

If one generally does not gain access to a permanent position in Egyptology - as a lecturer, researcher at the CNRS, research engineer or study engineer - only after having defended a doctoral thesis in History, History of Art or Archeology, it is also possible to participate in excavation sites as a topographer, biologist, architect, photographer etc.  

 In other words, for high school students who are considering a career as Egyptologist, the path chosen for the baccalaureate does not matter. However, only general or technological baccalaureates open the doors of the university, unless you subsequently pass the DAEU (Diploma of access to university studies).

If the choice of the baccalaureate course is not of primary importance for undertaking Egyptological studies, it is nevertheless essential to master the reading of English and German, which are very important languages ​​in Egyptological literature.

A complete Egyptological course can be followed in several higher education establishments in France, whether within the Faculty of History or History of Art and Archeology:

-        Sorbonne University,

-        Charles de Gaulle-Lille 3 ,

-        Light-Lyon 2  (with a special curriculum, the DUESE),

-        Paul Valery-Montpellier III ,

-        Strasbourg,

-        École du Louvre in Paris

-        The School of Advanced Studies (EPHE) in Paris (from the Master only).

Other universities offer introductions to Egyptology, which do not, however, allow you to continue the course to the end, so that you have to consider changing universities before entering the third year of the Bachelor's degree. so as to approach the Master with the most complete training possible. Whatever the institution chosen, it is highly recommended to start learning the Egyptian language - preferably the Egyptian medium to begin with - from the undergraduate years. Private organizations, such asKhufu Institute of Paris, or local Egyptian associations also provide language courses, sometimes also by correspondence. 

In order to forge a solid working method, students are strongly advised to undertake a preparatory class for the grandes écoles (CPGE), at the end of which they will take the competitive examination for the École normale supérieure (ENS) or the School of Charters. At the same time as the CPGE, students can register cumulatively - that is to say, they do not follow the courses and do not take the partial ones - in a university. Thus, at the end of the preparatory stage, they can continue their studies in their home university, without having to start over from the beginning thanks to the system of equivalences and compensation.

The preferred courses in university for approaching Egyptology are History, History of Art and Archeology and Classics. There are links from one discipline to another, which allow a student to change streams during the course. However, it is important to choose well not only the course - a student wishing to train in the Greco-Roman period, for example, should consider the question of classical letters, to learn about papyrology or to improve in Latin and in Greek - but also the university which one wishes to integrate according to the specialties of the teachers who will govern the choice of the subject of Master and, possibly, of thesis.

After the 2e university cycle (Master), various professional possibilities are offered, not only to increase his experience, but also to ensure his subsistence. Here again, the choice of the source of origin is essential. Many history students decide to take the CAPES and Aggregation in order to become, for a time at least, a teacher in middle and high schools. Obtaining these competitions is then a significant asset when applying for university positions. Studies of 2e cycle also allow students of Art History and Archeology to take the Heritage Competitions (curator or conservation attaché, for example).

While various scholarships exist for students of 1er and 2e cycles, it should be noted that few doctoral students (3e cycle) have the chance to land a three-year “doctoral contract” which provides them with an income while they work on their thesis. For others, it is often necessary to find other resources such as library, museum or university vacations. It is also possible for some to benefit from an ATER position (temporary teaching and research attaché) at the end of their doctorate.  

            Once the thesis is defended, various possibilities for post-doctoral contracts of one or more years are available to young doctors so that they can develop their research activities, enrich their CV and embark on the preparation of competitions for positions in university or CNRS.

We have just given you a brief overview of the possibilities open to you to undertake studies in Egyptology. It is obviously far from cross-checking all the questions you can ask yourself. Therefore, if you still have questions, do not hesitate to contact us for more details.