CIFRE (Industrial Agreements for Training through Research) contracts

Funding your PhD studies
CIFRE theses (Industrial Agreements for Training through Research) CIFRE contracts provide for an applied research project, with close ties between a PhD student, a structure that hires him/her, and a university laboratory that hosts him/her and contributes to his/her training. The PhD student has a tutor in the organization and a thesis supervisor in the laboratory. He/she is hired by the structure, and obtains a PhD degree after defense.


What compensation, what time frame, what opportunities?

In 2022, the minimum salary was 23,484€ gross/year, for an average of 30,399€ gross/year. The State finances half of the salary, the company the other half (and can pay a higher salary). A company can benefit from a research tax credit allowing it to compensate part of the salary.
The scholarship is for 36 months only. The CIFRE contract can be extended (without extension of the scholarship). Most of the contracts are fixed-term.
Approximately 90% of CIFRE contract PhD graduates are employed within 6 months of completing their thesis. For the laboratory, a CIFRE thesis often creates a lasting partnership with the structure.

What are the eligibility criteria?

  • is in the process of obtaining a master's degree or has a master's degree; he/she has the agreement of the doctoral school for enrollment in the thesis and a letter from the future employer who undertakes to employ him/her under the terms of the CIFRE contract.
  • has good grades in the master's program, has a suitable profile for the project
  • has not been enrolled in a thesis for over 9 months at the time of submitting the CIFRE contract application
  • has not been employed by the structure for more than 9 months at the time of submitting the CIFRE contract application, excluding internship and apprenticeship periods
  • is not enrolled in another thesis, is not already a PhD graduate

  • is a structure located in France. It can be:
* a company (SME or large group); 40% of the SMEs involved have less than 10 employees.
* an association, a neighborhood association, a trade union
* a local authority: local authorities (municipalities, counties, regions, authorities with special status and certain overseas authorities, consular chambers), regional parks, non-national museums, theaters, Paris Philharmonic; industrial and commercial establishments (EPIC) or administrative establishments (EPA); public interest groups (GIP). NO courts, ministries, universities, national museums.
  • the company's main mission must not comply with articles L112-1 of the French Research Code and L123-3 of the French Education Code. This means that the company must not be primarily involved in research, and this excludes institutions that issue diplomas.
  • the employer is only eligible if the research subject is clearly in line with its purpose and development. For authorities, there must be an impact on public policy, the development of the authority (e.g. revitalizing territories)
> Do you want to know if a public institution is eligible? Write to "1000 doctorants pour les territoires" (see contact details in "How to obtain help setting up a project?")

  • is/are located in a university or school.

What is the submission procedure, what are the timeframes?

Projects can be submitted throughout the year. The schedule below is indicative, but gives an idea of average timeframes.
1) initial examination by the ANRT (National Research and Technology Association): a few days: checking the eligibility of partners, ensuring that the application is complete, responding to the company + sending an application number

2) then, if the application is complete:
* between submission and assessment, approximately 2 to 3 months
* then review by a committee (the number of applications in a given committee is limited, in order to spread the budget over the year): approximately 4 months. Economic expertise by the DRRT - Regional Research and Technology Division (financial solidity of the company, presence of an R&D department), scientific expertise by an academic researcher (scientific quality of the research project; entrepreneurial requirement; suitability of the laboratory; quality and suitability of the PhD student's curriculum)

3) The deadline for starting the CIFRE contract once approval has been given: the deadline depends on the necessity to spread the budgets over the year. For CIFRE contracts starting between May and July, the ANRT (National Research and Technology Association) agrees that enrollment should be carried out in September (and that the CIFRE contract should therefore start in September).
The average success rate is approximately 85%.

How to obtain help setting up a project?

  • for a CIFRE contract with an authority or association: the « 1000 doctorants pour les territoires », program run by HESAM université.
  • for a CIFRE contract with a company : Floralis at UGA. Contact: Guillaume Comparato
  • supplementary resources : ADCIFRESHS (Association of PhD students and CIFRE doctors in Humanities and Social Sciences), Association Bernard Grégory

Where to find ideas or offers for CIFRE theses?

  • Look on the ANRT and Association Bernard Grégory websites, which publish CIFRE offers.
  • Regularly check the websites of companies that interest you, they also publish proposals for thesis topics.
  • You can also set up your own project, depending on your network, the internships you have done, or by exploring, for example, the competitiveness hubs (wood, ageing, etc.) to see if there are any interested parties, or even a public innovation fair. It is important to show the usefulness of the research project for the development of the company, the territory, the association.
  • For CIFRE theses in literature, linguistics, languages, potentially successful leads may be publishing houses or companies focused on mediation/communication. Many other collaborations can be imagined, including with the public sector, to work with the various groups targeted by local authorities' or associations' fields of action (teaching, guidance, leisure, communication strategy, a common language between stakeholders, etc.).

France-Morocco CIFREs

  • the program is reserved for Moroccan students, for companies based in France
  • the PhD student must be under joint supervision with a Moroccan laboratory
  • at the end of the CIFRE contract, the PhD student must spend 18 months in Morocco
  • the minimum salary is the French minimum wage, but the company usually gives more. Morocco pays about 7000€ per year to the PhD student.

Some examples of CIFRE theses

Here are some examples of CIFRE theses carried out in the fields covered by the LLSH doctoral school, in our school or elsewhere in France:
  • Geoffrey Volat, information-communication, within the city of Clermont
  • Audrey Dominguez, literature, with the herbalist Au Temps des Fées, Grenoble
  • Dalel Boussahel, language sciences, with the INSTEP LEO LAGRANGE Association, Ile De France
  • Lucia Pagliardini, cinema, with Gaumont


> How to present your CIFRE thesis project?

Updated on  July 13, 2022