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Joint doctoral campaign of the Université de Lyon & the China Scholarship Council (CSC)

Note: beware of double applications!


The main goal of this program is to enable eligible students selected by the Université de Lyon and the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) to complete a thesis in a research unit under the Université de Lyon.

The Université de Lyon and the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) have been pursuing an agreement since 2013 which provides for the funding by the Chinese government of 30 Chinese doctoral students per year.

What does being a doctoral student mean?

To be admitted into a doctoral program in France, you must have a research subject, a supervisor and a funding. Thesis subjects are provided by the research supervisors.

A PhD program lasts 3 years but can be extended to 4 years if it is scientifically relevant and if there is available funding.

Usually, French is the language of the dissertation and defense. However, it is possible to write and to defend in another language, but in this case, there must be a written abstract in French (and sometimes an oral abstract too).

The doctoral student is attached to a doctoral school (in French, a doctoral school is called "école doctorale -ED"), according to his/her scientific area and registered as a student at a selected higher education and research institution. The doctoral school manages and validates the selection of candidates, guarantees the scientific quality of supervision and provides doctoral students with interdisciplinary training The higher education and research institution decide the admission into a doctoral program and awards the degree.

Each doctoral student has to take a certain limited amount of "doctoral courses" adapted to their scientific and professional aims. This training may consist of participation at a scientific seminar or at short training sessions. The Université de Lyon offers a wide range of training opportunities which seek to provide doctoral students with transferable skills and to help them in ensuring their future employability.

Once they are admitted into a doctoral program, doctoral students pay registration fees as well as the Student Life and Campus Tax (CVEC). This tax of €90 must be paid every year. PhD students have to register on their own to France's social security system. This procedure is free of charge.

The Université de Lyon has 17 doctoral schools which cover all fields of research.

2024 campaign important dates

Note: beware of double applications!

Some member institutions of the Université de Lyon (ENS de Lyon, INSA Lyon & Centrale Lyon) have similar agreements with the CSC. Be careful not to apply through both ways as this could have consequences for other applications.

  1. Applications opening: July 3, 2023
  2. Thesis proposals must be sent to until September 15, 2023
  3. Validation Security Defense of thesis offers by the Université de Lyon: September 2023
  4. Publication of approved thesis proposals: December 2023
  5. Student applications to thesis directors and doctoral schools: between January & February 2024
  6. Communication of the names of the successful candidates to the UdL: no later than March 1, 2024
  7. Shortlisted candidates should submit their CSC scholarship applications directly via the CSC website between March 10 and March 31, 2024
  8. The thesis director, via his laboratory, sends his institution's Defense Security Officer (FSD) the complete file of the candidate selected for authorization of the doctoral student's access to the laboratory (approximately 2 months)
  9. The CSC communicates the results of the selection to the University of Lyon, which in turn transmits them to the Doctoral Schools: end of May 2024
  10. The selected doctoral students will arrive in France on September 1, 2024.
Visit our webpage in French for more information on procedures

Eligibility criteria

  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of China;
  • Hold (or be a future holder of) a Master’s degree or equivalent that demonstrates your aptitude for research;
  • Be in the 2nd year of a Master’s degree or 1st year of a PhD for a basic grant;
  • Be in the 2nd year of a PhD for Cotutelle grants;
  • Have a very good level of French or English, depending on your scientific field (a minimum level of B2/C1 is recommended).

How to apply?

If a subject or theme corresponds to your project: send your application to the thesis director (detailed CV and cover letter in the requested language).


If you have a thesis subject to propose: send your application (detailed CV and cover letter in the requested language) along with the thesis subject to the director of the corresponding doctoral school.

Your application will be reviewed by a research team. You may be asked to submit more information or to have an interview on line.

The research teams select the candidates. The director of the lab and the director of the doctoral school validate the selection.

You will receive a letter of acceptance of your application signed by the director of the host laboratory, the thesis director and the director of the doctoral school. You will attach this letter to your CSC application.

You submit your application file directly on the application portal hosted on the CSC website from March 10 to 31, 2023.

You are notified of the result of the CSC scholarship by the doctoral school, subject to the access authorization (FSD) to your host research laboratory.

The Université de Lyon wishes to encourage applications:

  • From universities in Shanghai (ECNU, Tongji, Fudan, Jiao Tong Shanghai, New York Univeristy Shanghai) partners of the Université de Lyon,
  • As part of an existing program between an establishment in Lyon or Saint-Étienne and a Chinese institution,
  • For joint doctorates.

Guidelines from the CSC

Topics and subjects proposed by the doctoral schools