The purpose of the dual courses and double diploma proposed at ENSA Nantes is to overcome the distinction, now obsolete, between the two archetypal specializations of architect and engineer which emerged in the 17th century and which have traditionally been supported by specific and separate training programs. This opposition has no place in today's world in view of the complexity of projects and the need for European and international openness. This conviction shared by ENSA Nantes and the École Centrale de Nantes spurred the two establishments to propose this dual course to the students of both schools in a spirit of reciprocity.
The goal is not to create a new professional body, just to encourage a dual culture for architecture and engineering students as a means of developing new professional practices both in technical execution and in public or private building project management. A report on a similar dual training scheme in Lyons underlines the observation that "the dual training leads to a new level of mastery of the basic profession and an enhanced aptitude for dialog, and therefore the acceptance of responsibility."
This "architect-engineer" (or "engineer-architect") training in no way reduces the student's potential as an architect or engineer. On the contrary, it has proven to be a powerful vector for dissemination of the respective cultures in areas where they do not traditionally interpenetrate.
The three first years are dedicated to preparing the basic mathematical and physical disciplines. These courses correspond to those of the CPGE (specific programs considered to be a prerequisite for the courses at the École Centrale de Nantes). Architect students follow a targeted course in which the quota of engineering hours progressively increases. The courses are relatively dense during this period, so it is essential that students already have basic knowledge in these disciplines (corresponding to a "distinction" level in a French "baccalauréat" scientific section). Students who apply are selected at the start of the first year on the basis of their past qualifications.
The duration of the studies is six and a half years (13 semesters).