Research & ExpertiseDoctoral policy A doctorate at IFSTTAR

A doctorate at IFSTTAR

Doctoral training is an essential part of IFSTTAR’s scientific strategy. The presence of doctoral students in its laboratories enables the Institute to tackle new areas of research and reinvigorates its teams. It increases the scope of the Institute’s scientific output (publications and patents) and fosters links with the academic world. The acquisition of new skills while working on their thesis provides doctoral students with what is frequently an extremely valuable initial experience of research and good employability skills for the future. As a result of the Institute’s involvement with applied research, it’s newly qualified PhDs are free to move either into the academic or professional spheres.

The different types of doctoral training available at IFSTTAR

IFSTTAR’s laboratories can train about 380 doctoral students. The Institute has an intake of more than 100 new doctoral students every year.

Candidates must satisfy a number of criteria before they can become an “IFSTTAR doctoral student” :

  • The topic must be connected to the Institute’s goals contract,
  • At least 50% of the supervision must be conducted by one or more person working in an IFSTTAR laboratory,
  • More than 50% of the student’s attendance time must be spent at an IFSTTAR laboratory and the student must be registered at a French doctoral school,
  • The student must be selected by an interview committee (drawn from IFSTTAR or the doctoral school),
  • Dedicated funding must be obtained for the 3 years of doctoral research.

The sources of finance and employers of IFSTTAR doctoral students are extremely varied. The breakdown for the 2012 intake, for example, is as follows:

  • 35% of doctoral students were recruited by IFSTTAR, on doctoral contracts that are financed or co-financed by subsidies
  • 8% of doctoral students were recruited by IFSTTAR on research contracts
  • 24% of doctoral students were publicly funded, but recruited by the other bodies that supervise our jointly-managed laboratories or by foundations
  • 19% of doctoral research was sponsored by CIFRE and hosted by IFSTTAR
  • 8% of doctoral students were employees or trainee civil servants who wish to do a doctorate at IFSTTAR
  • 6% of doctoral students were funded by grants from foreign governments


The sources of finance and employers of IFSTTAR doctoral students


The main co-financers of our doctoral students are the ADEME, the CEA, and the Regions of Nord-Pas de Calais, Pays de Loire, Rhône-Alpes, Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur.

Doctoral student monitoring

Irrespective of how they are funded, the scientific directorate takes the following steps to monitor doctoral students:

  • Recruitment takes place on the basis of a careful selection of topics, and by an in-depth appraisal of the candidates, conducted by an ad-hoc interviewing committee
  • An annual report is made on the progress of the research, with monitoring of the end of the research until defense of the thesis
  • The institute encourages the mobility of doctoral students, their joint supervision and a European quality label …
  • Annual doctoral workshops are organized by major scientific area
  • The Institute organizes teaching placements and placements in firms for its doctoral students with doctoral contracts
  • The career paths of IFSTTAR PhDs are monitored after they have qualified

As part of the goals contract it has signed with the State, the Institute has agreed to monitor a number of indicators such as the number of theses defended (92 in 2012), the median duration of doctoral research (3.3 years in 2012), and the posts taken up by its doctoral students.

According to the statistics for the last two years of PhD graduates (2010 and 2011), one year after defending their thesis 95% of IFSTTAR PhDs had found a job, 62% of which were permanent. The breakdown between different sectors of employment is as follows: 28% in the private sector, 41% in universities, engineering schools or research institutes, and 31% in agencies, local and regional government or ministries.