The Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes was established by imperial decree on 31 July 1868 at the initiative of Victor Duruy, then Minister of Education under Emperor Napoleon III. Its purpose was to introduce research in academia and, more importantly, to promote academic training through research, thereby advancing a practical form of scholarship designed to produce knowledge and to be taught in seminars and laboratories, as was being practiced in Germany at the time.
The EPHE took part, in recent decades, in the wave of transformation of public sector institutions of higher education and research. In 1986 it became a Grand Institution (being the highest category under ministerial charter), and in 2005 it received new statutes which redefined its organizational functions and responsibilities.
- 31 laboratories for Earth and Life Sciences
- 15 research teams in Historical, Philological and Religious Sciences
- 2 libraries and 4 documentation centers