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In France, a Doctoral school ("école doctorale") is an educational structure similar in focus to a graduate school but restricted to PhD level. The concept was created in 2000. Doctoral schools have the responsibility of providing students with structured doctoral training in a disciplinary field. Each university will have different doctoral schools, relative to their main fields of research. A doctoral school can be shared between two or more universities. Some universities have also regrouped their Doctoral schools into a Doctoral college.
Admission to a doctoral program requires a master's degree, both research-oriented and disciplinary focused. High marks are required (typically a très bien honour, equating a cum laude), but the acceptance is linked to a decision of the School Academical Board.
A large share of the funding offered to junior researchers is channeled through the école doctorale, mainly in the shape of three-year "Doctoral Fellowships" (contrats doctoraux). These fellowships are awarded after submitting a biographical information, undergraduate and graduate transcripts where applicable, letters of recommendation, and research proposal, then an oral examination by an Academical Committee.
- (in French)—French Doctoral schools