PhD Program

What is a PhD ?

A PhD is a form of learning dedicated to careers in research: it is both a period of training and a first phase of professional integration.

  • Open to holders of a Master’s Degree, or equivalent level degree, the PhD is the highest degree of academic degrees. A PhD is a “training through research for research and innovation” and a “professional experience of research”.
  • The doctoral training combines the practice within a research team to complemental scientific training modules provided at the Doctoral school.
  • As a professional experience, the doctoral training is often associated to a funding method which can involve additional missions: teaching, joint research, or advisory mission for a company, contribution to the scientific and technical culture… There are several funding mechanisms for doctoral researchers.
  • The doctoral training is also open to multiculturalism and has an international dimension; the research laboratories are a meeting place for hundreds of doctoral students representing dozens of nationalities: half of the two thousands of doctoral students at the University of Lorraine are of foreign nationality.
  • The PhD title is awarded usually in recognition of three years of research, after the defence of a thesis – a dissertation of a few hundred pages – which covers original scientific works.
  • Depending on each discipline, there are several variations concerning the time needed to prepare a PhD.
  • The PhD is considered as a first professional experience and it must be initiated with the purpose of pursuing a career after the thesis: each PhD student has to define as quickly as possible a project for the future. This question must be discussed with the thesis supervisor, first contact of the doctoral student, soon after the registration for the doctoral program.

How is the PhD prepared ?

The PhD student is supervised in a privileged way by the supervisor or by the co-directors of thesis when preparing an international joint thesis.

  • The PhD student’s work is held in a research laboratory.
  • The PhD training is managed by a PhD school. The PhD student is enrolled in a University.
  • Relationships and mutual commitments between various interveners are governed by a thesis charter.

Thesis supervisor

The thesis supervisor proposes the authorization to submit the thesis and gives also their opinion on the nomination of the thesis committee.

In general, there is a main thesis supervisor, but the PhD student can also be supervised by several co-supervisors. This is the case when a thesis co-supervisor is in charge of a more direct monitoring or when the subject of the thesis covers several disciplines, or again when the thesis is under a joint international supervision.

Research laboratory

The research laboratory is headed by a Director and has a management board with an advisory role, in which doctoral students can be represented.

The PhD is in general prepared in a unit or a research team of the University where the PhD student is enrolled. During the preparation of the thesis, the PhD student is fully involved in the research unit.

PhD school

The PhD school is the structure that oversees the entire doctoral cycle: its mission is to inform, assist and monitor PhD students throughout their studies. The PhD school :

  • implements a policy of choices of PhD students based on public and specific standards and it organizes, according to each institution’s policy, the allocation of funding amounts including those for doctoral contracts,
  • ensures the quality of supervision of PhD students by research units and teams, makes sure that the Thesis charter is being respected,
  • organizes the training of PhD students and prepare them for their professional integration.

Each PhD school is principally connected to a University, but can be transversal to several institutions. Its role is to bring together several research teams and its disciplinary scope can be very large depending on the local context.

Doctoral schools are headed by a Director, assisted by a council of 12 to 26 members and approximately 20% of PhD students belonging to the Doctoral school, elected by their peers.

Thesis charter

The thesis charter is adopted by a university, based on a model charter developed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research.