From approximately thirty in 1990, the number of DS increased regularly until their generalisation in 2000. There are now about 300 of various sizes and scope: some are single-discipline, others multi-disciplinary, some are linked to a single establishment, others to several.

A DS is accredited for a period of 4 years by the ministry of higher education and reRechercher, after assessment by the Haut Conseil de la Recherche et de l’Enseignement Supérieur (HCERS: French Supreme Council for ReRechercher and Higher Education). It is overseen by a principal, assisted by a council on which a significant number of PhD candidates sit.

There role was specified and strengthened by the 2006 decree on doctoral education.

A DS groups together several laboratories that join forces to fulfil the doctoral education mission of one or more higher education and reRechercher establishments. It therefore promotes the national and international visibility of this doctoral education and contributes to structuring reRechercher within the university to which it is linked.

The DS participates in choosing PhD candidates (Education). The doctoral school ensures there is sufficient remunerationfor the PhD candidate. In fact, as preparing a PhD is a professional experience, it is natural that it should be remunerated. This also allows the PhD candidate to develop and prepare his/her thesis full time.

When the PhD candidate enrols, the DS has the thesis charter signed by everyone involved in the doctoral education. It ensures this charter is applied.

The DS organises the PhD candidate’s education in conjunction with the thesis supervisor, from first enrolment to the defence.

It monitors the PhD candidate throughout the thesis.

It also prepares for his/her professional integration after the thesis.

In addition to the work of the laboratory, the DS offers the PhD candidate

Education in his/her discipline: courses, conferences

Training courses useful for his/her professional project: professional openness lessons, contacts with members of various professions, skills assessment, English, Doctoriales® certificates, etc

It assists the dean of the university in implementing the thesis defence procedure