France dedicates 2.23% of its GDP (i.e. about 45 billion Euros) to private and public research activities

About 67,000 students are registered in Doctorat (PhD) courses in France, and every year, about 13,000 pass their degree. In France, the Doctorat course is largely open to international students: almost 50% of PhD students come from abroad.

Any holder of a Masters degree or an equivalent non-French degree may apply for a Doctorat degree. Training usually lasts for 3 years and lead to a "Docteur" degree after a thesis defense. After approval of the university and the supervisor, the PhD thesis can be written in English. Annual tuition fees for the academic year 2015-2016 were 391 euros (also for international students) and securing the financing of your PhD can be required by the Doctoral School to register.

Organisation of PhD studies: Doctoral Schools


Doctoral Schools include research laboratories working on the same scientific field. The Doctoral Schools themselves supervise the selection, registration and training of Doctoral students.

The Doctorate mainly takes place in a research laboratory under the supervision of a thesis director (or several in the case of joint supervision/direction -"cotutelle" or "codirection"-). Please note that most of the time spent is dedicated to research work and the writing of scientific articles. Trainings are organised by the Doctoral School during the thesis for 100 hours spread over 3 years. The objective of the courses is to improve inclusion on the labour market and to open to the diversity of occupations available through training in research: scientific communication, scientific writing, teaching methodology, business management, French as a Foreign language (FLE), etc.

Find your doctoral school in our online directory and apply for a PhD in France! And if you have questions about the funding system, you have all the explanations here.

Research in France

Research employs 412,000 individuals, including 259,000 researchers spread by 40% in the public sector and 60% in the private sector.

The impact of French publications is the 4th most significant in the world.

France is also ranked 4th globally for the number of Nobel prizes (61). The most recent went to Patrick Modiano (literature, 2014), Jean Tirole (Economy, 2014), Serge Haroche (Physics, 2012) and Jules Hoffmann (Medicine, 2011).

In mathematics, France is ranked 2nd in the world with 13 Fields medals, with Frenchmen Artur Avila (2014), Ngo Bao Chau & Cédric Villani (2010).

In France, research is carried out in universities and research entities such as the CNRS, INRA, INSERM, etc.
The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) is the first research institution in the world in terms of number of scientific publications.