Ciarlet graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique in 1961; got his PhD in mathematics in 1966 at Case Institute of Technology, Cleveland; and his Doctorat d'Etat-es-Sciences at the University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, in 1971. He was a professor at the University Pierre et Marie Curie from 1974-2002. From 2002-2011, he was Chair Professor at City University of Hong Kong, where he is currently University Distinguished Professor. His honours include: Grand Prize from the Academy of Sciences in Paris; von Humboldt Research Award; Shanghai Prize for International Cooperation in Science and Technology; and eight honorary degrees from universities in Romania and China. He is a member of the French Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Technologies, Academia Europaea, European Academy of Sciences, Romanian Academy, National Academy of Sciences of India, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong.