ENS Cachan's chief purpose is to train future academic staff for public education and research institutions.
After their master's degree, about 75 percent of normalien students undertake a PhD.
Researching and writing a doctoral thesis gives PhD students a taste of what the academic and research professions involve before they embark upon international careers.
Careers targeted by this mission can be categorized into three main areas:
- higher education: lecturer, professor, etc.
- research: research fellow, senior researcher, research engineer, etc.
- secondary and technical education: senior teacher who holds the agrégation (preparatory classes, BTS, IUT, engineering schools, etc.), senior school management, school inspection.
After completing their ENS Paris-Saclay Diploma, a growing number of students go into the French civil service via the competitive recruitment examinations for the Grands Corps de l'État: IPEF (merger between ENGREF and ENPC), INSEE, DGA and Mines; or the École nationale d'administration. It is also possible to pursue further studies at Sciences Po thanks to an agreement between the two institutions.
Some students prefer to take senior positions in the private sector, particularly in science and technology-based sectors after a PhD.