The PhD


Normandy University

Normandy University is a community of universities and institutions associating higher education and research establishments in the Normandy region. Since 2015, the doctorate has become a skill curated by Normandy University, which coordinates doctoral policy in Normandy on behalf of its members and associates. For this reason, regardless of the institution of registration, doctoral students receive, after the defense of their doctoral dissertation, the diploma of doctor issued by Normandy University.

Normandie Université is composed of :

Applying for a PhD

If you wish to pursue a PhD, contact a laboratory or a potential advisor to define a thesis project and find financing. You can also apply to the topics open annually to competition (topics posted on the home page). For more information and advice, contact the “Maison du Doctorat” (an organization dedicated to the information and support of PhD students) on your campus.

Doctoral enrolment

If you wish to enroll in a PhD program in Normandy, please follow the following links depending on the registration institution of choice:

The PhD

The doctorate is the highest level of education. It corresponds to the degree and title of Doctor (or Dr.) and is certified by a national diploma. The doctorate is generally delivered after three years of research following a master's degree (or equivalent) and after the defense of a doctoral dissertation about the candidate’s original scientific work. The doctorate is the culmination of a "training through research, to research and innovation" and of "professional research experience".

The national framework for training and the procedures leading to the awarding of the national doctoral diploma is specified in the ministerial order of May 25, 2016

Thesis direction

The supervision of the thesis is ensured by one or two researchers with accreditation to supervise research (HDR) and attached to a Normandy Research Unit. Exceptionally, a second thesis co-advisor from the non-academic socio-economical world can be involved.

Co-supervision of thesis

The doctoral student may be co-supervised by a person without an HDR. The request for co-supervision must be approved by the research commission of your registration institution after the evaluation of the corresponding doctoral school.

Thesis funding

The doctoral contract

A three-year doctoral contract is offered to doctoral students recruited by public institutions of higher education, research organizations, and the Normandy Region.

The “Disability" doctoral contract

Specific "disability" doctoral contracts are open to students with a recognized disability (a status known as RQTH and delivered by the MDPH) as part of an annual award campaign either by the Ministry or by the Universities of Caen Normandie and Rouen Normandie.

The CIFRE thesis

The “Convention Industrielle de Formation par la Recherche” (CIFRE) is a system allowing a doctoral student, attached to a research laboratory, to complete their thesis while being paid by a private company. The company recruits the doctoral student and entrusts him with a research project to be conducted at either or both facilities.

Research contracts

Laboratories may fund theses with their own resources, usually obtained through research contracts with one (or more) public or private partner(s).

Government grants

The French government or foreign governments can grant scholarships to students wishing to pursue all or part of their doctoral studies in France. The thesis may lead to the award of doctoral degrees from both signatory countries in the case of an international joint supervision (cotutelle).

Other funding

Organizations, associations, and private or public institutions can also fund the research work of doctoral students in topics that are relevant to them.

International joint supervision of a thesis

The joint supervision of a thesis is a provision promoting scientific cooperation between French and foreign research teams and as such, is part of the international policy of the institution. The co-supervised student carries out their work under the supervision of a thesis advisor in each of the two countries involved. For a single thesis project and oral defense, the doctoral student receives two doctoral diplomas featuring a mention of international cotutelle, in both countries. The bilateral joint supervision agreement is available for download at: joint supervision agreement.

The European Doctorate credential

This agreement makes it possible to recognize the doctorate at the level of the European Union. The European doctorate is a credential that can be awarded on request as a supplement to the doctoral diploma when the thesis has been prepared, at least in part, in another country of the broader European Union. In this respect, it is understood to mean the countries member of the European Union extended to other free trade states including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

In order to obtain this credential, the following four conditions must be met:

1.   The doctorate must have been prepared, in part, during a stay of at least three months in another European country;

2.   The authorization to defend the oral dissertation is granted on the basis of reports written by at least two professors (or equivalent academic rank) from two higher education institutions in two European countries other than the one in which the doctorate is presented ;

3.   At least one member of the jury must belong to a higher education institution in a European country other than the one in which the doctorate is defended;

4.   Part of the defense must be delivered in a European national language other than the national language(s) of the country in which the doctorate is presented.

The status and obligations of the doctoral student

Legal obligations

When enrolling for a thesis, the doctoral student signs the doctoral charter, reads the rules of procedure of the Doctoral School and the rules of procedure of the Research Unit (internal regulations, good practices, confidentiality agreement...). By signing, they commit to respecting the contents of these texts.

Doctoral student without a French work contract

A doctoral student without a French employment contract is either: a doctoral student with a scholarship or a doctoral student who does not receive funding for their thesis. A doctoral student with a scholarship does not have an employment contract but has specific financial aid (scholarship) from an institution, government, etc. A doctoral student "without funding" has no financial resources related to the preparation of their thesis or benefits solely from occasional funding.

Doctoral student with a doctoral contract

The doctoral contract provides all the social guarantees of a public law employment contract.

In the case of a CIFRE agreement, the doctoral student is recruited on a fixed-term contract by the company. The doctoral student has rights but also duties towards their employer, defined in the employment contract.

Employed doctoral student

This category of doctoral student is in employment (teachers, hospital personnel, self-employed) and at the same time is preparing their thesis part-time.

The PhD in Normandy

In 2019, nearly 1800 doctoral students were enrolled in Normandy and 415 defended their thesis. Their number varied by discipline as follows :




Soutenances de thèse

Biologie Intégrative, Santé, Environnement (ED NBISE)




Physique, Sciences de l'Ingénieur, Matériaux, Energie (ED PSIME)




Mathématiques, Information, Ingénierie des Systèmes (ED MIIS)




Normande de Chimie (ED NC)




Homme, Société, Risque, Territoire (ED HSRT)




Histoire, Mémoire, Patrimoine, Langage (ED HMPL)




Droit Normandie (ED DN)




Economie, Gestion Normandie (ED EGN)




Doctoral students are registered in one of the four Normandy institutions authorized to

PhD students are registered at one of the three universities of Normandy or at INSA Normandy. Regardless of the institution of registration, doctoral students receive, after their thesis defense, the diploma of Doctor of Normandy University.

Funding of theses in Normandy

Funding for doctoral students in Normandy is as follows:

Universities and INSA / Ministry funding / CNRS, INSERM....

24 %

Regional doctoral funding

25 %

National Research Agency (ANR) grants

3 %

Research partnerships

2 %

Industry funding agreements (CIFRE)

6 %

European programs

2 %

Funding for doctoral students with disabilities

1 %

Funding for foreign doctoral students

10 %

Funding from organizations and patronage

1 %

Doctoral students without dedicated funding

8 %

Doctoral students with an external professional activity


Report on the doctoral studies 

A detailed report of data regarding doctoral training for the period ranging from 2015 until 2019 is available for download at: 2015-2019 report.

Doctoral Houses

The supporting and consulting services for the doctoral program (Doctoral Schools and administrative management of the institution of registration) are grouped within the “doctoral houses”. If you are a student pursuing a Master’s degree, these organizations will provide useful information on how to proceed to become a doctoral student. If you are a doctoral student, you will find information and advice to help you through all the stages of your doctoral program, from the registration process to professional integration upon graduation.

Meeting places for doctoral students and rooms dedicated to doctoral training are available on the premises of the “doctoral houses” or nearby.

These “doctoral houses” are located on the main Normandy university campuses:

- Mont-Saint-Aignan site, University of Rouen Normandy: 1st floor, Monod building  ;

- Madrillet site, INSA Rouen Normandy: lobby, Magellan building

- Campus 1, University of Caen Normandy: MRSH

- Campus 2, University of Caen Normandy: Sciences 3 building ;

- University of Le Havre Normandy: DirVED.

The professional integration of Normandy PhD graduates

A follow-up on the future of Normandy PhD graduates is recorded by each institution by regularly questionning the doctors on their professional situation 3 years after the thesis defense. The results of these surveys, carried out by scientific field among the doctors who presented their doctoral dissertations between 2009 and 2013, are available at:

A 2018 summary of the employment of PhD graduates in France is available at : report on PhD graduate employment in France in 2018.