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Funding for your PhD

A PhD grant is the preferred type of funding, but there are many other ways to fund a PhD. Some topics are offered with funding, but it may be up to the candidate to identify a potential source of funding. Depending on the source of funding, the application requirements and the procedures for admission to a doctoral school at the University of Bordeaux may also vary.

Funding a PhD

In France, PhD students can have an employment contract (private law, public law, industrial) during their PhD studies, giving them a salaried status for their research activity, or be awarded a grant. There are many sources and types of financial support:

  • Types of funding: employment contract (PhD grant, fixed-term contract, Industrial Convention of Training through Research - CIFRE, Convention of Training through Research in Public Administration - COFRA), various grants, etc.
  • Sources of funding: French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR), French National Research Agency (ANR), Public Scientific and Technological Establishments (EPST), European Commission, Region, organisations, foundations, government(s), etc.

Many sources of funding

In some cases, candidates request funding on their own, then apply for admission to a doctoral school covering their speciality. In other cases, for some types of funding, thesis supervisors are responsible for applying for funding for a research topic (via targeted calls for applications, some of which are organised by the University of Bordeaux) selecting a candidate and then arranging their admission to the doctoral school.

This page sets out the most common types of funding, but it is not exhaustive. Other types of funding may be available to fund your PhD.

Information.pngWhile funding an employment contract for research activities is one of the basic principles set out in the doctoral charter and is one of the University of Bordeaux's priorities, it is not required by the Decree of 25 May concerning PhD training. Depending on the academic field, the research team hosting the PhD student is not always able to provide funding. This is why, in certain academic fields and in certain doctoral schools, it is possible to be admitted to a PhD program without any source of funding. In this case, the doctoral school director will take all the necessary steps to assess the material and financial feasibility of carrying out the PhD. Before applying for a PhD, check whether the doctoral school you are interested in requires a minimum level of funding before you can enroll.

PhD grant

This is a 3-year employment contract, conditional on enrollment in a PhD and it is recognised as professional experience in and of itself.

Contracts for the doctoral school's selection process for PhD positions (MESR)

PhD grants are the main form of support given to PhD students. At the University of Bordeaux, around a hundred grants funded by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR) are awarded each year to candidates through the doctoral school selection processes for PhD positions (concours).

Every year, the University of Bordeaux's 8 doctoral schools launch a recruitment campaign for the beginning of the next academic year in order to award the PhD grants they have available.

Candidates are usually selected by a panel of specialists in their field, after the assessment of their application in most cases. As well as assessing the quality of the candidate's academic background and thesis topic, this interview is an opportunity to confirm their enthusiasm for research and their ability to present the merits of their project.

Application procedures and key dates vary from one doctoral school to another: find all the information you need about admission to each one.

Funding for research contracts and targeted calls for applications

PhD grants funded through these calls for applications are initially applied for by thesis supervisors. Candidates seeking admission to a PhD program can only apply for this funding at a later stage, via the doctoral school's selection process for PhD positions and their offers of research topics for some, or via a specific call for applications and selection process.
  • PhD grants for research projects
Research units may fund theses with their own resources obtained through research contracts with one or more partners. This is the case for most French research organisations, whether they are an EPST (CNRS, INRIA, IRD, etc.) or an EPIC (CEA, IRSN, CNES, etc.). Other sources of funding are also offered by research foundations or associations (FRM, AFM, French League Against Cancer, Oréal, etc.). The funder then tasks the research unit concerned with carrying out a research project, and possibly recruiting a PhD student to contribute to it.
  • Targeted calls for applications
The University of Bordeaux also funds PhD grants as part of its structuring initiatives to promote interdisciplinary research and the internationalisation of PhD programs.
For more information about the University of Bordeaux's targeted calls for applications, view the relevant page in the "Supervising PhDs".

Industrial Conventions of Training through Research (CIFRE)

The aim of the CIFRE scheme is to encourage the development of public-private research partnerships and to improve the career prospects of PhD students. The PhD student devotes 100% of their time, which is shared between the company and the research unit, to their research thesis. They benefit from both academic and professional training.

They sign an employment contract (fixed-term or open-ended) with the company.

To be eligible for a CIFRE, candidates must have held a Master's degree for less than three years and be enrolled in a PhD, regardless of nationality. Each doctoral school has its own admission rules for CIFRE contract holders.

Applications must be submitted to the A.N.R.T (French National Association of Research and Technology).

For more information, check out the ANRT website – CIFRE scheme.

NEW: Within the framework of the "1000 PhD students for the territories" program and in order to develop the use of the CIFRE scheme among public-sector stakeholders and associations, a platform has been created to bring together the three parties involved in a CIFRE application (the public-sector stakeholder or association, the thesis director and the future PhD student).

>> Access the platform

Convention of Training through Research in Public Administration (COFRA)

The aim of a COFRA is to facilitate the completion of PhDs in public administration, within the framework of research contracts of the same name. The public administration recruits a PhD student on the basis of a 3-year project contract and assigns them research work which will be the topic of their thesis.

For more information, check out the page dedicated to calls for applications.

Article on Campus Matin 2 March 2023: "A PhD grant to bring research into the State".

International grants

This type of funding can, in some cases, cover the duration of a PhD or fund an international mobility project for PhD students enrolled in a foreign institution.

For more information, check out our page dedicated to international mobility grants or visit your country's Campus France page.

Disability PhD grants

Within the framework of its policy to support people with disabilities, the Graduate Research School takes part each year in the Ministry's campaign to award "disability" PhD grants. It is aimed at students with disabilities wishing to pursue a PhD in a doctoral school at the University of Bordeaux.

Extension: For contracts that started during the academic year 2021/2022, it is possible to apply for an extension of your fund. These applications are processed under the same conditions as a formal application.

On average, between 0 and 2 PhD grants are awarded each year by the Graduate Research School.

The 2024 campaign is open.

To apply, you need:

Deadline for sending applications to the PHASE department: February 16, 2024 at 12pm

For more information, please contact:

Denis CLANET - PHASE department:

denis.clanet@u-bordeaux.fr +33(0)5 40 00 30 83

Nathalie AUGOYARD - Graduate Research School:

aaphandicap@u-bordeaux.fr +33(0)5 40 00 38 97

The UB PhD Scholarships call for applications

This call for applications is open to international candidates in the scientific scope of the Graduate Programs.

Find more information on this page.

Download our guide for contractual PhD students

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