École Polytechnique is run under the supervision of the French ministry of defense. It is headed by a general, and employs military personnel in executive, administrative and sport training positions. Both male and female French polytechniciens (or "X"), as the undergraduate engineering students of the school are known, are reserve officer trainees and have to go through a period of military training before engineering studies proper. However, the military aspects of the school have lessened with time, with fewer and fewer students joining officer careers after leaving the school (aside for the engineers of the defense procurement agency), and the reduced duration of preliminary military training.
Traditionally, a favored goal of the polytechniciens was to join the elite government bodies known as the grands corps techniques de l'État, but nowadays many join PhD or master programs in French of foreign universities.
École Polytechnique has an undergraduate general engineering teaching curriculum as well as a graduate school. It has many research laboratories operating in various scientific fields (physics, mathematics, computer science, economics, chemistry...), most operated in association with national scientific institutions such as Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. In addition to the faculty coming from those laboratories, it employs many researchers and professors from other institutions, making up for a varied and high level teaching offer.