Obtaining financing for your doctoral training is often a precondition for admission in a doctoral program.

Are you planning to pursue a doctorate in France? Several financing options are available.

Doctoral contracts: true employment agreements

A new system of doctoral contracts has replaced the old systems of research allocations and teaching assistantships. Doctoral contracts have the features—and the legal force—of individual employment agreements.

Each doctoral contract specifies the objective and the duration of the mission of a particular doctoral candidate, as well as the type of activities in which the candidate will be engaged under the contract. Contracted candidates have the right to paid vacation and accumulate seniority, just like other civil servants.

Doctoral candidates who devote themselves solely to research earn less (€1,685 monthly) than those who take on other tasks such as teaching, popularization of research results, or consulting assignments (€2,025 monthly).

The amounts specified above are legal minimums that individual institutions are free to exceed depending on their recruiting goals and the qualifications of the candidate.

CIFRE: industrial agreements for training through research

Under a CIFRE agreement, young scholars and scientists perform their dissertation research in a corporate setting, working on a research and development program in collaboration with an external research team affiliated with a university or other noncommercial entity. To be eligible for a CIFRE agreement, you must hold a master's degree or the equivalent, such as the diplôme d’ingénieur.

International joint supervision of dissertation research

Candidates may work toward their doctorate in France and another country under an agreement between two (or more) institutions of higher education that provides for joint supervision of dissertation research. The basic terms of such agreements are as follows:

  • Candidates perform their work under the supervision of a dissertation adviser in each of the countries involved.
  • Candidates divide their time between the participating institutions.
  • The language of the dissertation is specified in the agreement.
  • The dissertation is defended only once, but successful candidates receive two degrees.

Joint supervision of dissertation research is not, in itself, a mechanism of financial assistance, but it may be (and often is) accompanied by such assistance.

The recent creation of joint doctoral colleges by French and foreign universities has enabled more joint-supervision arrangements to obtain financial support from programs designed to foster international mobility in science and academia.