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Published:  22 May 2024

Doctoral Networks 2024 call: 6 steps to prepare your application

Get started with this funding scheme and learn how to prepare a successful proposal.

MSCA Doctoral Networks implement doctoral programmes through consortia of organisations from different sectors across Europe and beyond.

Selected networks expose the researchers to the academic and non-academic sectors, and offer them training in research, as well as in transferable skills and competences relevant for innovation and  long-term employability of researchers.

They also benefit participating institutions which receive funding to develop excellent doctoral programmes, allowing them to attract talent, increase their global visibility and foster cooperation with other sectors and countries.

The MSCA and Doctoral Networks focus on excellence in various aspects. Excellence does not only apply to the individual fellows supported or the collaborations fostered and knowledge transferred. The quality and novelty of the research and innovation methodologies applied, the research conducted as well as the training, supervision and career guidance provided to researchers are also crucial aspects of MSCA Doctoral Networks and key award criteria.

The MSCA are open to all domains of research and innovation, chosen freely by the applicants, and have a strong focus on interdisciplinary, international and intersectoral cooperation. Doctoral Networks support programmes addressing this triple dimension across all research fields, and provide specific incentives to encourage cooperation between academic and non-academic sectors.

If you are considering applying for MSCA Doctoral Networks, here are some useful tips and guidance to start preparing your proposal.

6 steps to prepare your application

  1. Get familiar with how funding works
  2. Make sure your organisation and consortium can apply
  3. Find the best partners to prepare your proposal
  4. Start drafting your application
  5. Check your application with your peers
  6. Submit your application

1: Get familiar with how funding works

Have a look at the Doctoral Networks page and key resources for an introduction to the scheme’s features.

Consult the MSCA Work Programme and annexes for all details about the call. Doctoral Networks offer several funding modalities to set up doctoral programmes with specific incentives for Industrial and Joint Doctoral Networks – check which one matches the project you have in mind.

Standard Doctoral Networks

Promote international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral cooperation to train PhD candidates in various scientific areas. This is done with a focus on promoting entrepreneurial mind-sets, research-related and transferable skills and long-term career prospects within and outside academia.

Industrial Doctoral Networks

Train PhD candidates in skills outside academia, including industry and business. Doctoral candidates also benefit from joint industry andacademia supervision. These programmes bring together the academic and non-academic worlds, helping to transfer and encourage innovation.

Joint Doctoral Networks

Train PhD candidates through integrated programmes leading to joint or multiple doctoral degrees. These programmes promote structuring collaboration among institutions and require a joint governance structure with joint procedures for recruitment, admission, supervision and evaluation of doctoral candidates.

Check thoroughly the basic resources to learn more about the programme’s requirements

The MSCA-NET project, run by MSCA National Contact Points, offers complementary resources to support applicants

CORDIS, the official projects’ database of the European Commission, can help you find examples of previously funded Doctoral Networks.

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2: Make sure your organisation and consortium can apply


Doctoral Networks are open to international consortia of organisations from all socioeconomic sectors, including

  • higher education institutions
  • research institutions and infrastructures
  • private sector organisations, including industry, businesses, and small and medium-sized enterprises
  • public sector organisations, including national, regional, and local governments, agencies, and museums
  • other socio-economic actors including NGOs, think-tanks, charities, etc.

The consortia applying to the call should comply with the following criteria

  • 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
  • on top of this minimum, other organisations from any country in the world can also join, either as beneficiaries or as associated partners, depending on the status of the country as indicated below
  • specific conditions apply to Joint Doctorates
    • at least three independent legal entities in the consortium must be entitled to award doctoral degrees
    • at least one 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
  • all beneficiaries must recruit at least one doctoral candidate. They are required to host at their premises and supervise recruited researchers, or use associated partners linked to them to do so.

Organisations based in Member States and countries associated to the Horizon Europe programme are automatically eligible to funding.

Organisations based in low and middle-income countries can also apply and receive funding from the EU (see specific conditions in the MSCA Work Programme).

If you are not sure about your country’s status, have a look at the list of participating countries to Horizon Europe.

If your organisation is taking part in an EU-funded programme for the first time, you will need to register your organisation and get a participant identification code (PIC) number to participate in this call.


Doctoral candidates funded by Doctoral Networks

  • must not have a doctoral degree at the date of their recruitment
  • can be of any nationality
  • should be enrolled in a doctoral programme leading to the award of a doctoral degree in at least one EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country
  • be employed for a period as of 3 months and maximum 36 months, except in the case of joint doctorates, where this maximum duration is 48 months
  • should comply with the “mobility rule”: in general, they must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting organisation for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date
  • should spend at least 50% of their time outside academia, for Industrial Doctorates
  • can carry out secondments during up to one third of the duration of research training activities carried out their MSCA fellowship. This limitation does not apply in the case of Industrial Doctorates and Joint Doctorates.

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3: Find the best partners to prepare your proposal

To apply you will need to build an international and diverse consortium of leading organisations in the proposal’s research field (see specific conditions onthe scheme’s page in the MSCA Work Programme).

You could start by exploring the existing links that your department and organisations have with institutions around Europe and worldwide. You can also use this call to find new partners and expand your network.

Every consortium has a coordinating institution and partner organisations that contribute to the implementation of the doctoral programme.

These resources can help you find new partners and advertise your organisation

If you are still uncertain about the eligibility of your consortium, MSCA National Contact Points can help you go through the criteria.

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4: Start drafting your application

To apply successfully, you must know the award criteria and call requirements

Core aspects

All future Doctoral Networks will be required to address these core aspects in their proposal.

Evaluation, selection and recruitment of researchers

Selected projects must publish and advertise vacancies as widely as possible, including on the EURAXESS Jobs Portal. They may also use their networks to ensure the widest possible dissemination of vacancies and information about the application process.

Networks will need to select doctoral candidates from all over the world in an open, transparent and merit-based process and offer attractive working conditions, in line with the European Charter for Researchers

Supervisory Board

Each MSCA Doctoral Network should have a clearly identified supervisory board co-ordinating network-wide training, research and in particular supervision activities in line with the It should also establish ongoing communication and exchange of best practice between the participating organisations in order to maximise the benefits of the partnership.

Research and training activities

Projects should provide training opportunities to researchers to gain new research and transferable skills and competences, foster entrepreneurship, engage interdisciplinary research, and work within and beyond academia, when applicable. They should also support good scientific practices such as research integrity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Networks should exploit complementarities within the consortium, share knowledge and promote networking activities.

Selected networks should expose researchers to industry, business, SMEs and relevant non-academic activities whilst promoting an innovation-oriented mind-set and ensuring their long-term employability, in line with the EU Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training.


Particular attention is paid to the quality of supervision and mentoring arrangements as well as career guidance in line with the Guidelines for MSCA supervision. Joint supervision of the researchers is mandatory for Industrial and Joint Doctorates.

Career Development

Projects should pay special attention to improving the employability and career prospects of researchers. The network will have to establish a career development plan for each recruited doctoral candidate jointly with their supervisor.

In addition to research objectives, this plan include the researcher's training and career needs, including training, teaching, publication planning and participation in conferences and events that aim to opening up science and research to citizens.

Green research

In line with the green objectives of the European Union, projects are strongly encouraged to adopt sustainable practices in line with the MSCA Green Charter. Projects should report on their efforts in this direction, and sustainability may even be considered as a criterion to decide between otherwise ex-aequo proposals.

Read the useful tips and guidance to increase the sustainability of projects.

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5: Check your application with your peers

If you want to receive feedback on your draft and get advice from former applicants you can also reach out to

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6: Submit your application

The 2024 call for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Doctoral Networks open on 29 May with a deadline to apply on 27 November 2024, 17.00, CEST.

During this period, you and your partners can prepare and send your application and learn more about the submission process on the call page on the Funding and Tenders Opportunities Portal and through the portal’s online manual.

Become familiar with the Electronic Submission Service, which is the online system you must use to submit proposals.

Submit your proposal as early as possible before the deadline expires to avoid last-minute problems. You can update, download, or withdraw your proposal up until the deadline.

You can see an overview of the evaluation process on the European Research Executive Agency’s website.

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Tagged in:  Doctoral Networks
Published:  22 May 2024