PhD degree course

The opportunities: why take a PhD degree course in ICS?

During your PhD degree course (three years unless dispensed), you will become specialised in a domain,
work on a specific subject of scientific research and acquire scientific knowledge. You will work individually under the supervision of your research director.
You will also attend group courses in the doctoral school (EPIC) to which you will be assigned, organised around four main themes:

1. Methodological training and theoretical training (given during courses, training courses, conferences and disciplinary and interdisciplinary study days)
2. A training course in producing and publishing a thesis
3. Preparation for entry into professional life
4. National and international openings

What professions does a PhD in ICS lead to?

– Research professions: for PhD graduates, these can be mainly broken down into two categories, teacher-researchers and researchers.

The former work in higher education establishments and are recruited through competitive examinations; they become Associate Professors and University Professors.
The latter are recruited by public research organisations, either through competitive examinations or on contract. They become researchers and research directors.
To obtain more information:  Download the brochure on professions in research and higher education.

– Administrative examinations. Government and regional civil service: recruitment according to profile or statutory grade.

– Specialist consultants in a field of the discipline (corporate communication, information management, etc.) in a large company, local authority or in a consulting firm).


Acceptance criteria: what conditions have to be fulfilled?

To submit your application to take a PhD course, you must satisfy one of the two following conditions:

– You have defended your Master’s dissertation in Information and Communication Science and received the grade of magna cum laude in a French or foreign university.
If this university is foreign, your degree must be recognised as equivalent to a French Master 2.

– If you Master’s was defended in a discipline other than HSS (Human and Social Sciences) you must have attended Information and Communication courses during your university education, or have worked as a professional in these domains to be able to apply.

Once you have passed this step, you must propose a subject of research that you will have chosen previously or after having learned of the laboratory’s research themes. You can consult the list of possible thesis directors which can be accessed on the ELICO website in order to orient your choice of subject.

You can then contact one of the thesis directors in order to submit your thesis project to them. Those applicants that have not followed the ICS Research Master at Lyon must enclose a CV, the record of the grades obtained during their Master’s studies, and a letter of recommendation from their Master’s dissertation supervisor.

The aptitude of the applicant to accomplish their research project is evaluated by ELICO’s college of thesis supervisors (HdR) on the basis of their project approved by the thesis director and the laboratory director. If approved, the file is then evaluated by the scientific committee of the doctoral school (EPIC) which takes the final decision to enrol the applicant in the PhD program.


The procedures involved

How should one proceed once these conditions have been satisfied?

If your project has been accepted, you will contact your research director to establish the conditions of collaboration during your PhD program.

Two types of enrolment are necessary for your first year in the PhD program:

– Pedagogical enrolment:

You must compile a pedagogical file, after having obtained the agreement of your thesis director and the approval of the director of ELICO, the PhD supervisor and the head of the Doctoral School EPIC. This document is the prerequisite for your administrative enrolment.

– Administrative enrolment

Administrative enrolment is carried out with one of the universities of Lyon, depending on the choice made by your thesis supervisor.

The enrolment must be renewed at the beginning each academic year. The normal duration of a PhD program is three years. Each year, the student must provide a progress report on their PhD work, signed by ELICO’s college of thesis supervisors. Enrolments for a fourth and fifth year can only be considered on an exceptional basis and must be subject to a demand with a detailed justification for dispensation to the laboratory and the doctoral school, EPIC.

For more information:

Lyon 1:  enrolment for a PhD program
Lyon 2:  heading“1st enrolment for a PhD program”
Lyon 3:  Enrol for a course

– Joint PhD programs:

You can also pursue your PhD program under joint supervision. This procedure allows students to perform their research work under the responsibility of two thesis supervisors: one in France and the other in a foreign country (in Europe or elsewhere). The joint program must be signed during the first year of the PhD course. The PhD program leads to a defence of the resulting thesis in one of the two countries and permits awarding two degrees: a PhD degree from the University of Lyon and an equivalent degree (PhD) from the university in the other country.

For more information:


Grants: how can you finance your PhD thesis?

There are different possibilities for financing your PhD thesis:

– The Single PhD Contract from the Ministry of Higher Education and Research

The Ministry has just modified and eased the previous PhD funding procedures, such as the research and monitor’s allocation. It is a three year employment contract, renewable for one year, without limitation of age, or the need to have defended a Master’s dissertation within the year.

The novelty of the Single PhD Contract is that it provides a legal framework structured independently of the source of the funds used to remunerate the employee. Up to now, funding schemes were intrinsically linked to the funding body, whether the State, local authorities, administrations, associations, companies, etc.

Two types of contract are offered: full-time research; 5/6 research -1/6 teaching.

Every year the Doctoral School EPIC organises a competitive audition at the end of June for each of the contracts it offers.

For more information:

– The Single PhD Contract –Rhône-Alpes Region

This is a regional version of the single PhD Contract. However, there are two differences: it is the region that funds the contract and the doctoral school which recruits, via a research director, on the basis of predefined subjects that respond to specific needs.

For more information: realisation-de-la-these

– The CIFRE Contract, Industrial Convention of Education through Research

– This scheme provides for a three party contract between the PhD student, the Ministry of Research and Higher Education and a company for a period of three years.

The CIFRE places the PhD student at the heart of the structure (all companies subject to French law, including associations) in the framework of research in collaboration with a public laboratory. The aim for the company is to benefit from the PhD student’s expertise in a specific domain, while it provides the student with their first significant professional experience (contract for a fixed term of three years). The works performed by the student in the field and with the laboratory will result in the completion and defence of a thesis during the three year period. There is no age limit, applicants must be Master’s graduates.

This scheme is implemented under the control of the ANRT (Association Nationale Recherche-Technologie). For more information:

– The ATER contract

The ATER contract (ATER is the French acronym for Temporary Education and Research Agent), can be obtained starting from the third year of the PhD program. It permits the student to teach while preparing for a thesis or for recruitment for higher education through a competitive exam, once the PhD has been obtained. The PhD student must provide the equivalent of 192 hours of teaching-tutorials a year.

For more information:

– The French language university agency

It offers grants to foreign students from French speaking countries who wish to pursue a PhD program in a French university. This association covers 94 countries and about 800 higher education establishments.

For more information:


The institution: the doctoral school, EPIC

EPIC (ED 485), the Doctoral School of Education, Psychology, Information and Communication, History, Epistemology and the Philosophy of science, techniques and technologies (EPIC), is a body run jointly by the University Lumière Lyon 2, the University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, the University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, the University Jean Monnet of Saint-Etienne and the ENS Letters & Human Sciences. Its objective is to provide a framework of education for and through research in the three disciplinary sectors that it brings together.

EPIC relies on the activities of 8 reputed research centres (5 EA, 3 UMR), grouping the scientific potential and international networks concerned of the Universities of Lyon 1, Lyon 2, Lyon 3, Saint-Etienne and the ENS-LSH. It includes about 400 PhD students (number for 2006-2007), teams, programs and research directors capable of supervising the work of PhD students and preparing for their future under the best conditions.


The networks: the associations

–  The association ALEC- SIC

The “Lyonnais association of student-researchers in Information and Communication Sciences”. It gathers students taking Research Masters degrees and ICS PhD degrees, and aims at developing a dynamic terrain for research.

ALEC-SIC also produces a bi-monthly review, a digital publication available on

–  TheCJC, Confederation of young researchers

It groups about forty associations of PhD students and post-doctoral students, involved voluntarily in gaining recognition for PhD status as a professional experience. Its expertise in PhD matters has made it a privileged partner of the public authorities and it is represented in particular at CNESER (National Council of Higher Education and Research). At European level it participates in reflection on PhD programs and young researchers through the EURODOC association, of which it is a founder member.

–  ANDES, National Association of PhDs

ANDES is a national association of PhDs that brings together PhDs of all disciplines whatever their age or professional status and whether they live in France or abroad.

It is an interesting address for future PhDs who seek to understand how research, its network and funding work.