The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France, and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid-12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250. After many changes, including a century of suspension (1793–1896), it ceased to exist in 1970 and 13 autonomous universities (University of Paris I–XIII) were created from it.
The university is often referred to as the Sorbonne or La Sorbonne after the collegiate institution (Collège de Sorbonne) founded about 1257 by Robert de Sorbon. In fact, the university as such was older and was never completely centered on the Sorbonne. Of the 13 current successor universities, the first four have a presence in the historical Sorbonne building, and three include "Sorbonne" in their names.
The universities in Paris are now essentially independent of each other, and some fall under the Académie of Créteil or the Académie of Versailles rather than the Académie of Paris. Some residual administrative functions of the 13 universities are formally supervised by a common chancellor, the Rector of the Académie of Paris, with offices in the Sorbonne. As of 2006, Maurice Quénet is the Rector of the Academy of Paris and Chancellor of the Universities of Paris. The Vice-Chancellor of the Universities of Paris is Pierre Gregory. Despite this link, and the historical ties, there is no University of Paris system that binds the universities at an academic level.
To classify professors' knowledge, the schools of Paris gradually divided into faculties. Professors of the same science were brought into closer contact until the community of rights and interests cemented the union and made them distinct groups. The faculty of medicine seems to have been the last to form. But the four faculties were already formally established by 1254, when the university described in a letter "theology, jurisprudence, medicine, and rational, natural, and moral philosophy". The masters of theology often set the example for the other faculties, e.g. they were the first to adopt an official seal.
The faculties of theology, canon law, and medicine, were called "superior faculties". The title of "Dean" as designating the head of a faculty, came into use by 1268 in the faculties of law and medicine, and by 1296 in the faculty of theology. It seems that at first the deans were the oldest masters. The faculty of arts continued to have four procurators of its four nations and its head was the rector. As the faculties became more fully organized, the division into four nations partially disappeared for theology, law and medicine, though it continued in arts. Eventually the superior faculties included only doctors, leaving the bachelors to the faculty of arts. At this period, therefore, the university had two principal degrees, the baccalaureate and the doctorate. It was not until much later that the licentiate and the DEA became intermediate degrees.