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Theses and PhDs
Home / Theses and PhDs at the CEA  /  Preparing your thesis at the CEA

Preparing your thesis at the CEA


You wish to apply to a PhD thesis project, please visit our web site on the page:https://instn.cea.fr/en/these/ and select the topic/s you are interested in.

Once on the thesis project page, you will find the name of the "Thesis supervisor" to whom you can send your application directly. The thesis supervisor will give you any further details you may need.

Successful candidates are individually informed of the award of their thesis contract by INSTN/SFRES.

Applicants to a CEA thesis contract must hold a Master 2 degree. The M2 degree should be issued by a University; Students from French Graduate School or Engineering School should have a diploma enabling them to obtain permission to enrol as a thesis students in a Doctoral School.

Students must obtain their M2 degree and/or permission to enrol as a thesis student before the contract starts. The Selection Committee chaired by the CEA High Commissioner approves all CEA thesis contracts before notification to the applicant.

Students can send their application throughout the year to the supervisors whose contact details are shown on the thesis subject pages. However, for some subjects, applications are accepted as and when they are received, and these subjects may be filled without prior notice.  Contact the CEA laboratories for any further information.

Crédit : D.Guillaudin / CEA

The thesis process at the CEA

A thesis is prepared on average over 3 years (duration recommended by the regulatory texts).

Each year (at the end of the calendar year), doctoral students must submit an activity report to the scientific Department of their unit, the INSTN and any industrial or regional partners for co-funded thesis.


The CEA raises different types of funding for the thesis contracts. Depending on circumstances, the CEA may or may not be the doctoral student’s employer.

  • CFR (Research-based training contract): 100% funded by the CEA.
  • CTBU (Thesis contract on units’ budget): 100% funded by the host laboratory.

The CEA High Commissioner and the partnering doctoral school award the CFR and CTBU contracts after approval. The thesis contract is a 3-year fixed-term employment contract, for which the CEA is the employer

  • CTCI (CEA/Industry thesis contract): co-funded 50% by the CEA and 50% by an industrial partner
  • CTCR (CEA/Region thesis contract): co-funded 50% by the CEA and 50% by a Region Council.

The CEA High Commissioner and the partner (industrial operator or Region) award the CTCI and CTCR after reviewing the candidate’s application, as well as the partnering doctoral school. The industrial operator (or the Region council) sign a partnership agreement with the CEA. This agreement sets out the terms and conditions of the collaboration and the undertakings made by the parties (specifications, thesis follow-up, programme funding, intellectual property, responsibility, etc.).

  • CCNE (Non-employer CEA contract): a third party funds the contract (CNRS, Ademe, Inrae, Inria, Cern, etc.) and the CEA supports 50% of the doctoral student’s salary.

Selection of the thesis applications for a CCNE contract have the same excellence criteria than all the CEA thesis contracts (assessment by the Selection Committee chaired by the CEA High Commissioner).

Working conditions

The doctoral student’s gross monthly compensation is € 2 406 (value July 2023).

Doctoral students have access to the CEA laboratories’ facilities.

Doctoral students employed by the CEA benefit from the same advantages and duties as any CEA staff member (professional trainings, company canteen, vacations…). Other doctoral students are subject to the rules of their employers.

Thesis supervision at the CEA

An experienced engineer/researcher, together with a thesis director holding research direction accreditation (HDR), supervise the preparation and completion of the doctoral student’s thesis project at the CEA

For thesis funded by a “CEA-Industry Thesis Contract” (CTCI), a company engineer participates in the scientific and technical follow-up of the research work.

For CEA-Region thesis contracts (CTCR), a regional lead may also participate in thesis follow-up.

The INSTN also offers training courses specifically aimed at doctoral students and young researchers. (Visit the page: Professional development - INSTN (cea.fr)


Service Formation par la recherche et emploi scientifique (SFRES)
Tel. +33 1 69 08 80 38

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