Awarding of the diplôme national supérieur de l’ENSP, worth the grade of a Masters degree, through the validation of prior experience.

The École nationale supérieure de la photographie has been able to offer the acquisition of the school diploma, a Master’s degree award, through a process of validation of prior experience (VAE) since 2007 when it established its own examination and validation centre.

The VAE validates the achievements of salaried, self-employed and/or voluntary professional experience with a view to acquiring a diploma, a professional certificate or a qualification from a list drawn up by the national joint employment commission of a professional branch, registered in the national directory of professional certifications (RNCP).

The VAE is thus a means of acquiring a certification in the same way as school and university paths, apprenticeships and further professional training. It has the same status as other methods of testing knowledge, skills and competences.

The application to obtain the diploma through the process of the VAE takes place in three stages following an annual calendar.

IMPORTANT | All relevant information can be downloaded here. Please ensure that you have read the full document before uploading your application.

Who can apply for the VAE?

The VAE process is open to all regardless of age, nationality, social status or level of education or training.

Including :
→ Employees (open-endende, fixed or short term contracts, temp workers etc)
→ Non-salaried, self-employed or freelance workers, members of the liberal professions, traders, craftsmen/women, agricultural workers, farmers etc.
→ Registered as job-seekers, with or without benefit payments
→ Volunteers with associative, charitable or union experience
→ Public servants (under permanent contract or not)

A single condition must be met : the candidate for the VAE must be able to demonstrate at least one full year of activity directly related to the certification aimed for. Activities to be considered can have taken place over a continuous or discontinuous period, part-time or full-time.

It is a question of validating the totalité of the acquired professional competencies in the practice of a paid, unpaid or voluntary activity in direct relation to the content of the diploma, with regards to the document RNCP 28290

Voluntary activity corresponds to the situation of a person who freely commits, within the domain of a registered charity or public service structure, to carry out an unpaid activity for others outside of their professional or familial activity.

Activities corresponding to the amateur practice of an artistic activity on a personal basis or in a family setting will not be considered in the calculation of the length of time required for the application to be received.

The decree relative to higher education does not, a priori, exclude  taking into account in the required length of time, internships and training in a professional environment carried out for the preparation of a diploma or certificate.

Legal framework of the VAE

The law relating to social modernisation n° 2002-73 of the 17 January 2002 regulates this procedure.

The general framework of the VAE procedure has been organised by a general decree, decree n° 2002-615,  26.4.02 (JO of the 28.4.02). This decree, having been Ce décret having been repealed on the 23 May 2006 (Decree n° 2006-583 du 23.5.06 (JO of the 24.5.06)), these dispositions are now contained within the regulation of the  Code for education (article R335-6 to R335-11).

The implementation of the VAE in higher education is regulated by a specific and distinct decree n° 2002-590 of the 24 April 2002. A new decree n° 2017-1135 of the 4 July 2017 determines the rules regarding the calculation of the length of time of activities in a professional context necessary for examination of the demand.

3 stages for the acquisition of the VAE

The application for the ENSP diploma by Validation of Acquired Experience takes place in three stages according to an annual schedule.

IMPORTANT | All the necessary information can be downloaded here.  Please ensure you have read the full document before applying.

This first step assesses the administrative admissibility of the application with regard to the evidence and supporting documents provided, attesting to the candidate’s experience in connection with the diploma concerned. (RNCP 28290)

The admission commission and requests for funding will take place in March.

The candidate’s artistic portfolio should demonstrate the research, commitment and artistic pathway of the candidate.

Methodological support by the ENSP 

The methodological support provided by the ENSP allows the candidate to compile their admission dossier and to prepare in the best possible conditions for their interview with the diploma jury.

The programme includes methodological support in the constitution of the admission dossier and in the valorisation of the candidate’s research and creation process through both group work and individual sessions.  This support allows admissible candidates to be part of a work dynamic favourable to the preparation of the interview with the jury.

The support programme proposed by the ENSP and the costs are provided on request once the candidate is admissible. Please contact sophie.branchard@ensp-arles for more information.

Admissible candidates may also be advised to follow certain complementary training modules.

The law does not require the candidate to be supported before their passage in front of the jury. This is an optional measure offering candidates additional opportunities to complete the VAE process. It in no way presumes the decision of the jury, which is sovereign.

The VAE interview is intended to demonstrate the experience acquired by the candidate in the domain of the aimed for diploma, and the associated competencies, aptitudes and knowledge.

He/she will present in a formal manner, both methodical and argued, a set of productions related to the image and the photographic medium as well as a specific project achieved in the last couple of years.

In the event of the candidate receiving only partial validation they will have a maximum of five years to present again to the jury. After this time the candidate will no longer be able to  apply. The jury indicates the capacities remaining to be acquired or developed by the candidate in order to receive full validation at the time of their second attempt.


The registration fees for the VAE are confirmed each year by the publication of an inter ministerial decree applicable to national art schools.

› For the year 2021/2022, the registration fee for the VAE, applicable to all higher education establishments under the Ministry of Culture and Communication, is 780 €.

› Candidates must pay an administrative fee of 80€ when submitting their applications for the admissibility analysis . This fee is not reimbursed should the dossier be declared inadmissible.

If the application is declared admissible, the candidate must pay the additional 700€ to cover the costs of the procedure leading to the award of the diploma.

Candidates able to demonstrate that they are not in a position to benefit from funding by a third party (company, organization, local authority), can request the benefit of a reduced fee from the head of the establishment of 350 €.


The VAE process can be funded.

Depending on the candidate’s status, it is possible to mobilize the CPF (Compte personnel de formation). Pôle Emploi, the Transition pro association in your region, or your employer as part of its skills development plan may also be able to provide information on available funding.

It is also possible to request assistance from your Region. For example, the Région Sud offers a VAE Pass to help with registration fees.

Validation des acquis de l’expérience – Ma Région Sud

You can find more information about the VAE on the following sites:

Etre recevable : dépôt du 1er dossier – Le portail de la validation des acquis de l’expérience