Doctoral Networks (DN)

The Doctoral Networks aim to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative doctoral candidates, able to face current and future challenges and to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit. Doctoral Networks will raise excellence and structure research and doctoral training, extending the traditional academic research training setting, and equipping researchers with the right combination of research-related and transferable competences. It will provide enhanced career perspectives in both the academic and non-academic sectors through international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility combined with an innovation-oriented mind-set.

A typical Doctoral Network is an international consortium of host organisations from the academic and non-academic sectors, including organisations based in Member States and Associated countries. If necessary, the Doctoral Networks can also include participants from host organisations outside Europe.

In the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, academic and non-academic are defined as:

  • Academic: consists of public or private higher education establishments awarding academic degrees, public or private non-profit research organisations whose primary mission is to pursue research, and International European Research Organisations.
  • Non-Academic: includes any socio-economic actor not included in the academic sector and fulfilling the requirements of the Horizon Europe Rules for Participation. Examples (not-exhaustive) include: industry (SMEs etc.), charities, NGOs, government/public bodies, national archives, libraries, etc.

The Doctoral Network recruits and trains researchers via a collaborative research project involving significant structured research training aspects such as workshops, summer schools and research training courses. In addition, the researchers must participate in a range of activities designed to develop their complementary and transferable skills, such as training in project management, intellectual property rights, entrepreneurship, mentoring, ethics, and outreach to society. The training must follow the EU Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training.

A key aspect of a Doctoral Network is mobility, both international and inter-sectoral, and the recruited researchers are expected to visit other host organisations in the Network for short exchange visits and/or longer secondment stays. Secondments and exchange visits hosted by non-academic organisations are highly encouraged, and are mandatory for Industrial Doctorates. In addition, all recruited researchers must adhere to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Mobility Rule: at the time of recruitment, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date.

An organisation can participate as a Beneficiary or a Partner Organisation:

  • Beneficiaries participate fully in the network, recruiting and training researchers and receiving a portion of the project budget to fund the full costs of this participation. All beneficiaries must recruit at least one doctoral candidate.
  • Associated Partners do not recruit researchers, but get involved in training activities (for example, hosting researchers who are on secondment, contributing to training events): Associated Partners do not receive funds from the project budget, but can reclaim eligible participation costs from one of the Beneficiaries.

What research areas are funded?

  • All areas of research are covered by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, including STEM subjects and the social sciences, humanities and economic sciences.

Summary Details

Three types of Doctoral Networks can be funded:

1) Doctoral Networks (DN)
  • At a minimum, consortia must include at least three independent legal entities, each established in a different EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and with at least one of them established in an EU Member State.
  • The Beneficiaries who form the core of the consortium are encouraged to include a mix of participants from the academic and non-academic sectors. Additional participants can get involved as Associated Partners.
  • The project funds doctoral students. Researchers’ enrolment in a PhD programme is mandatory. The maximum overall EU contribution for MSCA Doctoral Networks is 360 person-months.
  • Project Duration 4 years.
  • Typical Project Budget €3 – 4.5 million.
2) Joint Doctorates (DN-JD)
  • At a minimum, consortia must include at least three independent legal entities, each established in a different EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and with at least one of them established in an EU Member State. At least two of the institutions conferring a joint, double or multiple doctoral degree must be established in an EU Member State and/or Horizon Europe Associated Country.
  • The Beneficiaries who form the core of the consortium can include a mix of participants from the academic and non-academic sectors. Additional participants can get involved as Partner organisations.
  • The project can fund doctoral students only and upon completion of the EJD programme, a researcher should receive a joint, double or multiple doctoral degree. The maximum overall EU contribution for MSCA DN-JD is 540 person-months.
  • Project Duration 4 years.
  • Typical Project Budget €3 – 4.5 million.
3) Industrial Doctorates (DN-ID)
  • At a minimum, consortia must include at least three independent legal entities, each established in a different EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and with at least one of them established in an EU Member State. There must be at least one beneficiary from each of the academic and non-academic sectors. The maximum overall EU contribution for MSCA DN-ID is 540 person-months.
  • Other participants from any sector can be added if required, either as Beneficiaries or Partner Organisations.
  • The researchers must spend at least 50% of their time working in the non-academic sector.
  • Project Duration 4 years.
  • Typical Project Budget €1 – €4.5 million.

How to get involved

  • Use your existing contacts to find a consortium and join-up. Working with experienced participants is a good place for a newcomer to start.
  • Build your own consortium using your existing contacts.
  • Find new partners using the CORDIS Partners Service, InterTradeIreland’s Research Connections interactive map and Knowledge Transfer Ireland’s “Find a Research Partner“. The European Advisor who specialises in your research area is also knowledgeable about appropriate partners.

How to apply

There is an annual funding call for Doctoral Networks. Details of all Calls, including application documentation, may be found on the Funding and tender opportunities portal.

More information can be found on the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions website.