Applying for a PhD in France
Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now

Applying for a PhD in France

Written by Taru Medha

France follows the Bologna system of higher education which classifies a PhD as a third-cycle degree. This means you’ll need to complete a Masters (second-cycle degree) to be able to apply for a PhD.

Institutes of higher education in France are free to set their own admission criteria and some tend to be tougher than others.

This guide takes you through what the application process looks like for a PhD in France including information on deadlines and language tests.

Application process for a PhD in France

Applications for PhDs in France are similar to most other countries. You will either be applying for an advertised project or submitting your own research proposal.

However, the application process differs depending on your nationality.

For EU/EEA students there are no specific pre-application procedures to go through, you just contact your chosen doctoral school or supervisor and apply to the institution directly.

If you are applying for an advertised project, then you should simply follow the application procedure. You will typically need to provide the following materials with your application:

  • Academic transcripts – These are certified copies of your degree contents and qualification certificates, with original stamps. Your transcript may have to be translated into French and approved by a lawyer.
  • References – You will usually need to provide at least two academic references who have had experience working with you.

If you are submitting your own research idea then you will have to submit a research proposal directly to a doctoral school.

For non-EU/EEA students in countries that are part of the Étude en France initiative, you will need to apply directly through the Campus France centralised application facility. You can create an account allowing you to submit an application to several institutions.

Language test requirements for international students

Even though France has a number of international institutes of higher education that offer courses in English, French continues to remain the primary language of instruction.

Institutions offering PhD programmes require you to have a certain level of proficiency in either of the two languages, depending on what language your course is taught in.

  • If your course is taught in French – You can take the DELF or the DALF French language test. You can read our guide on French language tests for more information.
  • If your course is taught in English– There are a number of different internationally accepted English-language tests including the IELTS, PTE and Cambridge tests. Check with your university for which ones are accepted.

Application deadline for a PhD in France

Applications for PhDs usually close on 31 January in the year you wish to study. However, this deadline differs depending on the institution.

If you’ve found the French PhD project of your dreams, get your application in! Then all that’s left to do is apply for a visa and pack your bags!

Think you’re ready to find the perfect project for you?

Search our database of PhD programmes in France.

What a PhD in France Actually Looks Like

Interested in studying a PhD degree in France? We tell you all about how a PhD in France is structured, covering supervision, assessments and more.

Read more
Scholarships for PhD Students in France

Our guide tells you exactly how much a PhD in France costs and how you can find the right funding for it.

Read more
Guide to Student Visas for PhD in France

Want to study a PhD in France? This guide gives a detailed introduction to the kind of visa you need to study in France and how to apply for it.

Read more
Living in France – A Guide for PhD Students

What's it like to live in France during a PhD? Our guide covers accommodation, student living costs, working and other key information.

Read more
Load more...

Last Updated: 17 November 2023