The pre-Doctorate programmes

Are you sure you're ready to do a Doctorate in France? To make sure you are properly prepared, we suggest you take a preparatory programme.


In France, research starts in the first year of the Doctorate. The first year of the Doctorate is not a year of classes, even if, of course, the doctoral student participates in technical seminars and can also take a few bridging courses. You must therefore be ready to work independently, and quickly adopt the codes of the world of research: publications, ethics, intellectual property, etc.

For a few years now, specific courses that last a few months have been available to help doctoral candidates. If you did not do Master's in France, one good solution consists of doing your Master's level research internship in France, before doing your Doctorate.

Here are several initiatives that provide preparation for the Doctorate.

FIER-DOC: the programme for future researchers

FIER-DOC (French Innovative Experience in Research) is a programme that prepares future doctoral students for their thesis and their future occupation as researcher. Set up by the N+i network, it is aimed at foreign students who have or are completing a Master's in sciences, engineering science or technology. It is a two-month programme in research management followed by a 3-month internship in a laboratory.

It is a programme which is conducted entirely in English, and earns you 30 ECTS credits and a university degree. It represents a good lead-in to a Doctorate. 

For a future doctoral student, there are two reasons for taking the FIER-DOC. It lets you become familiar with the research environment in France and with the work that you'll have to do during the Doctorate. It includes visits to companies, laboratories and seminars. The research internship tests your knowledge, skills and sense of independence in a laboratory that may offer to continue at thesis level.

FIER-DOC organises two sessions per year: one in October and one in February. Check the N+i site for more information and to apply.

The PSL-ITI pre-doctoral year

L’année de formation pré-doctorat PSL-ITI

The Institute of Technology and Innovation (ITI) at the University of Paris Sciences and Letters (PSL) offers a pre-Doctorate programme to people embarking on a science Doctorate who would like to become entrepreneurs. The programme includes a five-month internship in a laboratory or company, multi-discipline courses and participation in a company start-up simulation.

This pre-Doctorate programme is open to French and foreign students with a Master's from an engineering school, the École Normale Supérieure and/or a Master's of Science (MSc). Applications are made online.

The FSMP pre-Doctorate programme

Les séjours de formation pré-doctorat de la FSMP

The Fondation Sciences Mathématiques de Paris (FSMP), has eleven mathematical science laboratories under its umbrella along with more than 1,200 researchers, including five winners of the Fields medal. It accepts doctoral students, but also finances scientific pre-Doctorate residencies in outside laboratories. Applications are made online.

Follow the main steps to come study in France