Vincent received Engineering Diploma from Paris School of Mines in 1971.
Vincent graduated from Stanford University with Master of Science degree in 1972.
Vincent graduated from University of Paris VI (Pierre and Marie Curie University) with Ph.D. in 1974.
Vincent graduated from University of Paris VII (Paris Diderot University) with Doctor of Science degree in 1977.
Vincent received Engineering Diploma from Paris School of Mines in 1971. He graduated from Stanford University with Master of Science degree in 1972; from University of Paris VI (Pierre and Marie Curie University) with Ph.D. in 1974; from University of Paris VII (Paris Diderot University) with Doctor of Science degree in 1977.
Vincent began his academic career in France and the United States, including teaching stints at Caltech and the University of Minnesota, and work with the European Geosciences Union, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (where he has been director since 2004), and the Ministry of National Education in France. (From 1998 to 2001 Courtillot served under Claude Allègre as director of research when Allègre was Minister for National Education, Research and Technology.) Courtillot is currently Professor of Geophysics at the Paris Diderot University. He has published in excess of 150 papers in scientific journals, with some emphasis on the specialty of paleomagnetism; he has served as editorial advisor to the French journal La Recherche.
He is currently at the centre of scientific controversy regarding the publication of one of his papers in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters (EPSL) entitled “Are there connections between the Earth's magnetic field and climate?” by V. Courtillot, Y. Gallet, J.-L. Le Mouël, F. Fluteau, A. Genevey (2007) EPSL 253, 328. There have been articles in Le Monde on 15 January 2008, and in Science on 11 January 2008 concerning the debate over this paper.
Courtillot favors the hypothesis that major mass extinctions are caused by massive episodes of vulcanism: that the Permian-Triassic (P/T) extinction that ended the Paleozoic Era was caused by the Siberian Traps eruption, and the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event that ended the Mesozoic Era was caused by the Deccan Traps vulcanism in India. His position is generally in opposition to the hypothesis famously championed by Luis Alvarez and Walter Alvarez, that the K/T extinction that saw the end of the dinosaurs was primarily due to the asteroid impact at Chicxulub on the Yucatan Peninsula. However, Courtillot does not dispute the scientifically-determined facts of the Chicxulub impact; rather, he argues that the totality of the available evidence supports a thesis that mass extinctions are generally caused by volcanic action.
Vincent Courtillot was elected to membership in the French Academy of Sciences in November 2003. He is also a member of the Fondation Ecologie d'Avenir since 2011.
Vincent married Michele Consolo, a professor, on July 7, 1971. They have two children, Carine and Raphael.