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Applying for a phd

Have the required qualifications

To be eligible for a doctoral contract, you must hold a national master's degree or another degree conferring the grade of master, obtained at the end of a training course or professional experience establishing your aptitude for research, as well as a certificate of English at least equal to B2.
For students who have obtained a foreign diploma (outside the European Higher Education Area), an equivalence of diploma can be obtained after examination of the file by the ED director. As for the other candidates, a certificate of English level at least equal to B2 is also required.

Identify a laboratory, a director and a thesis subject

You must contact the ED's partner laboratories in order to find an HDR thesis director attached to the EDML who will agree to follow you throughout your PhD. He will also help you to define your thesis subject. In most cases, it is the laboratories that propose the thesis subjects.

Find funding

Registration for a thesis is only possible if the doctoral student can justify a minimum funding (currently about 1200 € net monthly). The funding of the thesis can be obtained from different organisations, within a different framework and according to different procedures. Far from proposing an exhaustive list, the following list offers a few examples of the situations most often encountered in the ED. For doctoral students whose professional project is to enter higher education or to acquire certain skills, it is generally possible that the doctoral student, during his/her thesis, carries out teaching activities in the form of vacations, without exceeding (for a full-time doctoral student) 64h TD equivalent/year. This can constitute a complementary income but also requires the agreement of the main employer.
Doctoral contract

Each year, the Ministry (MESRI) allocates doctoral contracts to institutions. The recruitment of some of these doctoral students is carried out by the Doctoral Schools. For the ED, 6 to 8 contracts of this type are available each year.
The ED member laboratories propose a list of subjects that are open to competition. The contracts are awarded by the Institutions on the advice of the Scientific Council of the Doctoral School which selects the best candidates during the auditions which take place in May or June. The rules of this competition are specified in the Internal Regulations of the ED. Institutions may also target certain doctoral contracts according to their research policy or international partnerships. The recruitment process is then specific to each institution.
The allowance of a net monthly amount of 1600 to 1800 € gross (according to the policy of each institution) is attributed for a period of 36 months. The institution is the employer of the doctoral student.

CIFRE theses

This type of funding is part of a partnership between a public research laboratory and a company, which generally employs the PhD student on a fixed-term contract. The company and the laboratory submit a grant application to the ANRT to obtain its support.

The aim is to be able to carry out the thesis in a company or laboratory by carrying out a research and development programme in conjunction with a research team from outside the company, so as to strengthen the technological capabilities of the companies.

The supervision is carried out by at least two researchers (a teacher-researcher HDR from one of the laboratories attached to the ED (the thesis director) and a researcher carrying out a study or research activity in the company). The duration is 36 months.

Please note that to obtain a letter of commitment from the doctoral school, you must send us :
  • A CV
  • The last transcripts
  • The summary of the thesis subject
  • The summary of the master's degree or internship subject conferring research experience
  • A certificate of English level at least equal to B2
  • For applicants with a foreign degree, additional documents may be required

Funding from local and regional authorities

Public authorities (mainly the Regions) can offer research laboratories funding for theses on subjects or research projects that they consider to be priorities.

Other funding
  • Fixed-term contracts linked to research projects (ANR, Labex, I@L, etc.)
The public funding of research within the ED laboratories often corresponds to the labelling of research projects, following calls for projects (ANR, FUI, Carnot Institute, LABEX, ...). Within the framework of these projects, part of the budget allocated to the laboratory includes the financing of a fixed-term contract for a PhD student. Under these conditions, it is often the organisation managing the research contract of the recruiting team of researchers (institution, CNRS, R&D subsidiary, etc.) that is the employer of the doctoral student. The selection process of the candidates is organised by the management team.
  • Funding by public research bodies
Research organisations or agencies (CNRS, INSERM, CEA, INRIA, INRA, INED, CNES, IFREMER, ONERA, ADEME, ANVAR, etc.) can finance or co-finance thesis contracts. The allocation procedures are specific to each organisation. Generally, the contract takes the form of a 36-month fixed-term contract with the organisation as employer. An agreement (framework or specific agreement) is established between the operating institution where the PhD student is registered, the ED laboratory to which the thesis director belongs and the organisation. The supervision team associates one or more members of the registration institution attached to the EDML and one or more researchers from the organisation. To obtain such funding, candidates are invited to contact the laboratories associated with the ED
  • Funding for foreign students
Depending on the country, it is possible for some foreign students, under certain conditions, to obtain thesis funding from their government and/or the French government.
  • ...

Part-time doctorate

It is also possible to complete a thesis part-time. Under these conditions, the doctoral student's resources come from a professional activity not directly related to the thesis (e.g. teaching). The employer concerned must authorise the employee to devote at least 50% of his/her time to the thesis, which is then prepared on a part-time basis. In the case of a 50% investment, the duration of the thesis must be 6 years. However, depending on the results obtained, this period may be shortened to no less than 3 years.


It is the laboratories (most often the supervision team) that propose the thesis subjects and select the candidates before the ED studies their background. Thus, it is advisable to send applications directly to the laboratories (to the supervision teams) and it is at the laboratory level that the selection process of the candidates is done. At the end of the recruitment process, the thesis supervisor sends a form to the ED management, setting out the procedures implemented to select the candidate.
On the other hand, it is the Doctoral School management alone that has the power to admit candidates (or to refuse their admission), with regard to the pedagogical and administrative criteria mentioned in the internal regulations.
Finally, each operating institution (ECL, INSA de Lyon, Université Lyon 1) has defined a certain number of administrative requirements for thesis registration.

Doctoral school competition

The allocation of doctoral contracts is subject to a recruitment competition for candidates assigned to subjects identified as priorities in terms of scientific policy by the laboratories. The selection process is described in detail in the internal regulations of the ED.

The selection procedure takes place in several phases :
  • The research teams/laboratories circulate their thesis projects and select candidates by project.
  • The doctoral school lists the projects proposed by the research units, selects a certain number of projects and organises the audition of the candidates (generally between the second half of May and the first half of June). A ranking of the candidates by operating institution is proposed to the ED Board on the basis of their academic excellence and the suitability of their profile for the thesis subject.
  • The Board of the doctoral school establishes a final ranking by operating institution, taking into account the result of the hearings and the scientific policy of the ED and the laboratories. This ranking is proposed to the operating institutions.

Students must apply to the laboratories associated with the doctoral school.