Doctoral programs are periods of intense work and creativity that offer young researchers real professional experience. Candidates learn the craft of research while actually researching in an international context.
The irreversible internationalization of higher education programs has spurred France’s doctoral departments—and their
parallel structures abroad—to develop programs for the joint supervision of doctoral research and dissertations. Such
programs carry the advantages of bilateral scientific cooperation—and the participation of 2 expert advisers to shape and guide the original work of doctoral candidates.
International PhD program (cotutelle de thèse) operates under the terms of a formal agreement
governing all facets of a candidate’s doctoral program, from admission and enrollment to the defense of the dissertation
and the award of 1 or more doctoral degrees.
In the spirit of the 2005 decree that organized international joint dissertation supervision in France—“to advance the
building of an European space for higher education and research“— Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorates (EMJDs) were
created in 2009. It organizes specific programs within the framework of a university consortium. Erasmus Mundus doctoral
programs accept applicants from all countries. Those admitted receive financial assistance and opportunities for mobility.


International joint PhD programs (cotutelle de thèse) is a mechanism that promotes mobility among doctoral candidates while encouraging scientific cooperation between French and foreign research teams.

Candidates in a joint supervision program conduct their research under the oversight of, and with guidance from, a dissertation adviser from each of the 2 countries involved in the program. Working jointly, both advisers provide a full measure of supervision for the candidate. The candidate conducts his research in the 2 countries under the terms of the agreement governing the program. The decree of 2005 introduces more flexibility in the definition of these terms and allows to adapt the general framework for each student therefore improving the proper progress of the doctoral studies.
Lists of French doctoral departments, research centers and laboratories are available on the CampusFrance website.

What degree does the graduate receive?

International PhD program operates under the terms of an agreement between 2 institutions, 1 of which must be French. The rules and procedures are the same as those of French doctoral programs and doctoral programs within the foreign university. The 2 universities recognize the validity of the joint supervision and of the degree awarded to successful candidates—a doctoral degree from the French institution and an equivalent degree from the foreign university.
There are 2 possibilities for the granting of the degree:
• The successful candidatemay receive a single doctoral degree conferred jointly by the 2 institutions. The diploma will carry the name of the degree in 2 languages. (For example, Doctorat en littérature française and PhD in French literature)..
• The candidate may receive 2 separate degrees, 1 from each institution. In this case, each diploma will bear the name of the degree issued by that institution, will mention that the dissertation has been jointly supervised and will specifie the name of the partner university.
In both cases, the dissertation is defended in just 1 of the institutions participating in the joint supervision agreement, as
determined by the 2 research advisers.

How does one enroll?

Prerequisite degree: Master 2 (300 ECTS credits) or equivalent.

  •  Candidates must apply for admission to a French doctoral department and a partner institution abroad.
  • They must have a dissertation adviser at each institution and prepare 2 copies of a joint supervision agreement. The agreement may be a preexisting agreement between the 2 institutions or a new agreement reached specifically for the applicant’s dissertation.
  • They must enroll in the 2 universities: The agreement exempts the candidate from the payment of tuition in 1 of the 2 institutions upon presentation of a receipt for payment of tuition and fees at the other university for the year in question. The agreement also specifies the terms of the candidate’s insurance coverage in the 2 countries.

In France, applications are typically examined by a panel consisting of research directors and associate directors of the institution’s various doctoral departments. The panel’s findings and recommendations are passed on to the university’s scientific council, whichmakes final admission decisions.

How does joint supervision work?

Each year during the preparation of the dissertation, the student registers in the two universities, paying tuition at one
university. For the year in which the candidate will defend the dissertation, he or she pays tuition to the university at which the defense will take place.
• During the period of joint dissertation supervision medical insurance is provided by the entity named in the joint supervision agreement. Arrangements for the candidate’s housing in the partner country and for financial support are also spelled out in the agreement.
• The time required to prepare the dissertation must be divided between the 2 institutions in alternating periods. Generally, neither institution should host the candidate for more than 70% of the dissertation period. The typical length of a doctoral program in France is three years.
• The publication, commercialization, and protection of the dissertation and research results are handled by the candidate’s 2 host laboratories in accordance with the procedures specific to each country.

How are jointly supervised dissertations defended?

The dissertation jury is formed by common agreement of the 2 partner universities, with balanced representation of both
institutions. The jury should include the 2 dissertation advisers, as well as scientific experts from outside the 2 institutions.
Expenses connected with the defense often are met from a special, dedicated fund. Per diem expenses of the jury members are paid by the university at which the dissertation is defended. Jury members’ travel expenses are borne by the other university in accordance with institutional policies. A ceiling on the amount of expenses that may be incurred may be written into the joint supervision agreement.

In what language is the dissertation written?

If the national languages of the 2 partner institutions are different, the dissertation may be written in any language accepted for doctoral dissertations at either of the partner universities. The candidate must, however, prepare an abstract of the dissertation in the language of the other partner university. He or she must either defend the dissertation or summarize it orally in French.

Which documents are required to enroll in a joint PhD program?

• A Curriculum Vitae ;
• Copies of degrees, with certified translation;
• A dissertation plan;
• Evidence of a financing commitment (nature and amount) for the entire dissertation period;
• Joint dissertation supervision agreements signed by representatives of the 2 universities. (Model agreements are often
available for download from university Web sites.)

How are international PhD program funded?

A joint supervision agreement may be implemented without a dedicated source of funding. Nevertheless, because programs last three years, candidates are strongly advised to obtain financial assistance from French or foreign sources.

  • French government mobility grants for International dissertation supervision program

 International students admitted to a doctoral program in France may apply for a joint dissertation supervision grant from the French embassy in their country of origin. While the dissertation is being prepared, the candidate spends alternating periods in France and the country of origin. The portion of the dissertation research period spent in the partner country is not funded by the French government.While in France, the candidate is covered by the French national social insurance system and receives a travel stipend. Applications for French government grants for joint dissertation supervision may be obtained from the French embassy in the partner country.

  • Grants for joint dissertation supervision specific programs (examples):

• Joint dissertation support from the Franco-German University
• Program Frontenac for joint supervision arrangements between France and Quebec
• Program Vinci for joint Franco-Italian dissertation support
• Joint doctoral grants from the public universities of Malaysia

  • French government grants

French government grants are awarded by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs for academic programs, internships, and language study in France. Most grants are awarded by the culture and cooperation sections of France’s embassies and consulates abroad. Prospective doctoral candidates from all countries are invited to contact France’s diplomatic posts for information about such grants well in advance of their proposed program and in all cases before arriving in France. Available information covers conditions for the award of grants, the timetable for selection, and the application forms to be used.

  • Eiffel Excellence Grants (doctoral component)

This program is designed to support the international recruiting efforts of French higher education institutions. Institutions that sponsor candidates for grants agree to admit those candidates should they win an Eiffel grant. The program operates in three broad fields: the sciences, economics and management, and law and political sciences. Grants make possible a 10-month period of mobility in the course of a joint doctoral program (preferably during the second or third year of doctoral study). The Eiffel program is designed to help French institutions attract the very best international students.

Note: Within the framework of the newly created the Office Méditerranéen de la Jeunesse, mobility grants are available for jointly supervised doctoral programs in areas of pan-Mediterranean interest:


  • Technical sciences applied to the exact sciences and engineering

- Agriculture, agri-food industries, fisheries
- Building and public works, civil engineering, city planning
- Electricity, electronics, computer science, mathematics, and
- Environment and earth sciences (sustainable development,
renewable energy, water resource management, waste
treatment, marine industries)
- Transportation (aeronautics, logistics, mechanics)

  • Technical sciences applied to the social sciences

- Cultural management
- Economics and political science
- Law
- Management, finance, and business
- Tourism, hotel management, restaurant management

  • Health sciences

- Medicine, biology, biotechnologies


The doctoral option under Europe’s Erasmus Mundus program is a form of joint doctorate offered by a predefined
consortium of educational institutions and research centers that share scientific interests. The candidate enrolls at 1 of
the consortium’s member institutions and conducts his or her research in laboratories focusing on similar research
Erasmus Mundus offers full-time grants to students who have been selected to participate in a doctoral program that
has been granted the Erasmus Mundus label. The amount of the doctoral grants varies from program to program,
ranging from €24,000 to €40,000 per year over three years. Grants include tuition, travel expenses, living expenses,
and so on.
To be considered for an Erasmus Mundus grant, candidates must:
- Identify an Erasmus Mundus program appropriate for their intended research.
- Submit an application for admission to the university that coordinates the consortium. Applications are generally
due between October and December.
Each Erasmus Mundus program has its own admission criteria, procedures, and deadlines. Applicants are allowed to
submit applications to no more than 3 different consortia in a given year.
The program is coordinated by EACEA, the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the European
Commission, which publishes a guide to the Erasmus Mundus program for 2009–13.
The guide is available online.

Erasmus Mundus Programs

- ALGANT-DOC: Algebra, Geometry and Number Theory Joint Doctorate
- EDLE: European Doctorate in Law and Economics
- EMJD-GEM: Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate on Globalization, Europe & Multilateralism
- ENC Network: European Neuroscience Campus Network
- ETeCoS3: Environmental Technologies for Contaminated Solids, Soils and Sediments
- EUROPHOTONICS: Doctorate Program in Photonics Enginneering, Nanophotonics and Biophotonics
- EUROSPIN: European Study Programme in Neuroinformatics
- FONASO: Forest and Nature for Society
- ICE: Interactive and Cognitive Environments
- IDS-FunMat: International Doctoral School in Functional Materials for Energy, Information Technology, and Health
- INTERZONES: Cultural Studies in Literary Interzones
- IRAP PhD: International Relativistic Astrophysics Doctorate Program
- SETS: Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate in Sustainable Energy Technologies and Strategies
For more information



Extended-stay scientific visa

This extended-stay scientific visa is designed for holders of a Master-level degree or higher who wish to visit France to conduct research. It is therefore appropriate for doctoral candidates. The visa entitles the holder to apply, within 2 months of his or her arrival in France, for a temporary residency permit marked “scientifique.” If the foreign doctoral candidate is hired under a doctoral contract, the contract will refer to the candidate as a salaried employee, entitling him or her to a 1-year, renewable residency permit. A tax of €300 is due when the permit is issued.

Doctoral contracts

In April 2009 doctoral research allowances were replaced with a new system of doctoral contracts. Contracts have a term of threeyears and offer full social benefits as well as a minimum gross monthly salary of €1,685. Doctoral contracts are open to second-year Master students who wish to continue on for a doctorate. The number of contracts is limited. Admission is determined on the basis of the applicant’s academic record and an interviewbefore a faculty panel fromthe doctoral department inwhich the studentwishes to enroll.

Joint supervision for doctorate (Codirection)

When faculty responsibility for directing a candidate’s research is shared, candidates have the opportunity to conduct their research under the supervision of 2 dissertation advisers, at least 1 of whom must be French. The responsibilities of dissertation adviser or co-adviser may be assumed by the following persons:
• University professors or faculty members of equivalent rank, French or foreign (who need not be accountable to the French Ministry of Higher Education), or, more generally, by personnel working in institutions of higher education, public research organizations, and research foundations who are qualified to direct research projects. The agreement to share responsibility for dissertation supervision may be entered into by 2 French universities, 2 doctoral departments at the same university, or 2 research units within a single doctoral department
• By other individuals who possess a doctorate, chosen for their scientific expertise by the principal dissertation adviser upon the recommendation of the director of the candidate’s doctoral department and after consultation with the institution’s scientific council. The individual selected need not be affiliated with a research unit. He or she may be of any nationality.


• Pooling the expertise of 2 advisers and 2 research units. The candidate may receive financial or in-kind assistance from 2 research units or 2 doctoral departments and apply for mobility grants from the international offices of the 2 institutions involved.
• A diploma that bears the name and title of both of the advisers who supervised the research.
• A shared supervision agreement signed by the 2 advisers. Although the candidate is enrolled in a single institution, he or she is affiliated with 2 research units and/or 2 doctoral departments.
• A single defense that takes place at the university in which the candidate is enrolled.
• A dissertation written in French (except in doctoral departments that accept dissertations written in English with a French abstract).
• A doctoral program without any special funding mechanism, subject to all of the financial arrangements that normally apply at the doctoral level.