France devotes more than 2% of its GDP (about €40 billion) to public and private research. The nation is home to some 70,000 doctoral students (41% of whom are from outside France), and more than 200,000 scholars and researchers, about half of whom work in public universities, schools, or other institutes.
General organization of research in France
In France, university research is an essential element of the national research system. Based on the concept of "mixed research units" (UMR), the university's research teams collaborate with researchers from large state organizations.
These organizations include the French National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS), the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale - INSERM), the French Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique - CEA) and other mixed research units (Unités Mixtes de Recherche - UMR).
Any student holding a master's degree or the equivalent may apply to a doctoral program. Most candidates are required to secure financing for their research as a condition for admission to a doctoral program. After an average of 3 years of study and successful defense of a dissertation, students receive a doctoral degree.
Training takes place within a research team or unit affiliated with a doctoral department and under the supervision of a dissertation director. Research teams are organized along thematic lines and serve several research entities which have research interests in common.
Most doctoral departments are based in universities and research projects are conducted in close collaboration with research laboratories. The main aims of doctoral departments are to ensure that students have a support structure for professional development, career planning and preparation to enter the academic, research or alternative career labor market.