Admission to a PhD
Thesis admissions requirements
The PhD application is open to students with a Master's degree, a postgraduate degree (Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies - DEA) or an equivalent degree. There must be a fit between the candidate's university studies and the discipline of the requested doctoral programme. For the record, the IEP awards PhDs in law, history, political science, economics, and sociology.
For candidates who do not have the required degrees to be directly admitted into the First thesis year, see admissions into Masters programmes offered by the Graduate School.
Key elements of the application
Thesis supervisor consent
Identifying a research unit
The candidate must identify a host research laboratory. See the list of Sciences Po's research units.
Sciences Po's Graduate School is careful to limit PhD admissions to students whose thesis proposal is likely to succeed. It is therefore important that the candidate have a developed vision of his/her thesis subject and the implications of this choice for his/her research and career plans.
The thesis topic might change during the first months of the PhD programme, but it is important that the candidate formulate in the most precise and coherent way possible the key elements to evaluating his/her research project.
These elements are:
- The selection of the research problem must be supported by previous work.
- A presentation of the chosen methodology to address the given problem.
- An evaluation of the feasibility of the planned research from both a scientific and practical perspective. Some topics require access to areas or data that are not easily accessible.
- The candidate must also indicate his/her availability to produce a thesis. This is particularly important for employed candidates.
- The financing of studies: in accordance with the decree of 25 May 2016 setting the national training framework and the procedures leading to the issuing of the national doctoral degree, the financial preconditions must be met to ensure the orderly conduct of the research work and preparation of the thesis. Doctoral funding is therefore necessary to engage in a doctoral thesis. The doctorate is full-time at Sciences Po (except in the particular case of full-time employees who work on a research subject directly related to their job and have obtained the employer's agreement to have the necessary time to carry out their research) and the funding must meet the following criteria :
- a duration of at least three years;
- a net monthly amount of approximately EUR 1,500 ;
- the obligations attached to the financing must not represent more than one day per week (with the exception of CIFRE, where the obligations must be assessed on a case-by-case basis);
- the funding organization must respect the academic freedom of the doctoral student regarding the content of his research and the composition of the defense jury;
- funding must not come from personal resources but from public or private organizations (foundations, associations, companies, public authorities, international organizations, local authorities or others to be validated beforehand by the doctoral school) offering doctoral funding.
- For more information on funding opportunities, see the section on Funding.
- Finally, it is important that the candidate be able to explain his/her project in relation to his/her academic and/or professional background. The academic record should preferably be consistent and coherent. In all cases the requisite academic track record must be very good. Moreover, for employed candidates, the professional career must be explained and related to the thesis project: how might the candidate's professional experience tie into the thesis project? Is the thesis part of a professional development plan?...
The application is available exclusively online.
Attention: You must include the following documents in your application:
- A thesis project in PDF or Word format (5,000 words maximum). 3000 words maximum for the PhD programme in History, excluding bibliography, that shouldn’t exceed 20-25 titles
- A synopsis of your thesis project (two pages) in PDF or Word format
- Two academic recommendations
- A CV
- Proof of identity
- A copy of the last completed degree (for the PhD in political science, highest honours on the Masters thesis is required)
- For the PhD programmes in Sociology and History, a signed letter from a thesis supervisor authorised to supervise research at Sciences Po, indicating that he/she accepts to supervise your thesis.
- For the PhD programme in Sociology, a letter from the laboratory director indicating that he/she accepts to host you in the laboratory.
PhD applications are examined by the thesis committee, which makes recommendations to the executive committee of the Graduate School.
Final admission is granted by Director of Sciences Po, on the recommendation of the Graduate School director based on the recommendation of the executive committee of the Graduate School.
Admission results are communicated by mail from the general secretariat of the Graduate School.
Register required in French for the admission in thesis
|Required languages||Recommended languages|
|Political Science - Comparative political sociology||French (B2)|
|Political Science - International Relations||French (B2)|
|Political Science - Political theory||French (B2)|
|Ecole de Droit : programme doctoral - 3ème année (vous êtes titulaire d'un diplôme de Master de Droit)||English (C2)||French|
Applicants who already hold a Master's degree, whether from France or abroad, and wish to enter a Sciences Po doctoral programme directly at the PhD level, must submit their 2020 application by one of the following two deadlines:
- 20 January 2020 at the latest for admissions' results end of February 2020
- 20 May 2020 at the latest, for admissions' results mid-July 2020
The application is available exclusively online.
For all students entering the PhD programme at the "thesis" level, the annual fee for 2020/2021 is 385 euros, irrespective of tax residency.
In addition to receiving guidance from their thesis supervisor, some PhD students receive assistance from another Professor or Researcher who may be based in a different institution.
The role of this co-supervisor must be formalised through a co-supervised thesis agreement established between the PhD student's institution and the co-supervisor if the co-supervisor works at a different institution, or between the supervisor and co-supervisor if both work at IEP Paris.
The PhD student will obtain a PhD from his/her home institution. The co-supervisors commit to following the PhD student's work and to sit on the thesis examining committee. The thesis will explicitly state it was co-supervised and include the names and titles of the co-supervisors on the thesis cover page. At Sciences Po the co-supervision is formalised through an exchange of letters.
The joint thesis involves guidance from two supervisors: a professor at IEP Paris and a professor from a foreign institution.
It allows the issuance of two PhD degree, or of a joint degree where applicable.
In France, joint theses are governed by the amended decree of 6 January 2005 on international joint theses (PDF, 45Ko)
At Sciences Po, joint theses may only be permitted if:
- The student has already been admitted to Sciences Po
- The two thesis supervisors approached have conferred and provided their consent in writing.
Joint theses require the establishment of an agreement signed by all the partners (individuals and institutions). The three-year agreement must cover, among other things, the terms of registration, tuition, and the defence. It must be established in the first thesis year: see the section below on administrative procedures.
A joint thesis only makes sense and is only possible if the research project is shared by two institutions. In cases where this condition cannot be met, the student might consider a co-supervision, which also provides guidance from two supervisors, but does not allow the issuance of a dual degree.
A joint thesis allows the student to: have access to greater resources (documentary resources, networks) and pursue international career opportunities. Also, joint thesis scholarships covering the costs of joint theses (student's residence and defence fees) are available.
Joint theses may be difficult if the thesis supervisors have divergent views on the PhD student's work, or if the institutions' rules are too far apart.
In this case, the student might consider a co-supervision, which also provides guidance from two supervisors, but does not allow the issuance of a dual degree.
Even if the student is already enrolled in a foreign university, he/she must also be admitted to Sciences Po's at the thesis level.
Upon admission, the student must submit his/her joint project to the administration (administrative manager).
The agreement must include the following information:
- The university of primary enrolment
- Terms of tuition payment
- Terms of the defence
- Terms of sharing the defence fees
Once the agreement is signed, all parties will receive a copy.
If any breach of agreement should arise, management should be contacted.
Tuition will be paid in accordance with agreement. However, until the agreement is signed, the student is liable for the tuition at both institutions.
The organization of the defence is governed by the agreement.
For the presentation of the thesis, certain specific rules must be observed. See "Presentation Norms" on the page "Defence"
For more on submitting a thesis in a foreign language, see the "Defence" page.
Some foreign universities require a pre-defence. Inquire with the relevant academic authorities.