Thesis defenses are subject to article 19 of the ministerial decree of May 25, 2016.
Its requirements must be taken into account when scheduling the defense: a period of two months on average is required between the date of submission of the final manuscript to the thesis supervisor and the jury members, and the date of the defense.
- When the thesis supervisor considers that the manuscript submitted by the doctoral student is final and can be presented in public defense, he or she must communicate the names of two reviewers: facutly members accredited to supervise research (HDR), working in another university to whom the thesis manuscript should be sent. After reading it, and at the latest fourteen days before the scheduled defense date, the reviewers send a pre-report indicating whether the thesis meets the discipline requirements for a defense. The reviewers do not necessarily need to be the jury members.
- The jury must have between 4 and 8 members.
- Half of its members must be French or foreign personalities external to the Doctoral School and to the institution in which the candidate is enrolled.
- The other half must be professors or assimilated faculty (rank A) within the meaning of article 6 of decree no. 92-70 relating to the National Council of Universities or lecturers of equivalent rank who are not under the supervision of the ministry for higher education (in other words, this category only includes practicing or emeritus professors, and not retired professors; note that associate professors with accreditation to supervise research (MCF HDR) are not assimilated to professors, see https://www.galaxie.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/ensup/pdf/election%20CNU/Annex_2_Liste_des_corps_assimil%E9s.pdf
- It must ensure a balanced representation of women and men. If parity is not respected, a derogation must be requested from the director of the Doctoral School.
The jury members select a chairperson from among their numbers (necessarily a professor or assimilated, or of equivalent rank) and, if applicable, a Rapporteur for the defense. There are no obligations regarding the other members who may be retired professors or active associate professors (MCF) without accreditation to supervise research, or people who do not have a university degree but whose skills may be of interest to the jury. A jury member who does not have a doctoral degree will preferably be given the status of guest member (a guest member is mentioned on the cover page of the manuscript, is present at the defense, but is not considered as an examiner and therefore does not sign any document relating to the defense).
- The thesis supervisor(s) are jury members. They take part in discussions and their contribution is essential to ensure that the work they have supervised is properly understood. The supervisor(s) can, if necessary, bring clarifications in the discussions leading to the decision, but they do not lead the discussions and, if present for the deliberation, they do not take part in the final decision. The thesis supervisor(s) are taken into account when determining the ratio of jury members from inside or outside the university. The supervisors do not sign the deliberation minutes, but they do sign the defense report. When the defense report refers to the deliberation, it must specify that the decision was made by the members of the jury with the exception of the thesis supervisor(s). The thesis supervisor(s) are included in the list of jury members, also when making the legal deposit.
- The international joint supervision agreements (co-tutelle) may require specific conditions with respect to the jury's composition.
- With the approval of the reviewers, the Director of the Doctoral School authorizes the defense by means of a decree signed by the President of the University.
- The decree of May 25, 2016 establishing the national framework and the conditions for obtaining a doctoral degree did not modify the provisions of the previous decree, which only required the honors (mention) to be mentioned in the defense report and not on the diploma. The jury's assessments are recorded in the defense report.
- Defense by videoconference: see the procedure for defending a thesis or HDR with part of the jury attending by videoconference.
- At the end of the defense, the jury deliberates before awarding the candidate the title of doctor. The defense report, which must be signed during the deliberation, is sent to the Doctoral School administration, which issues a provisional certificate of successful completion of the defense. It usually takes one year to publish the diploma.
- The president of the jury prepares the final defense report, which is sent to the doctoral student in the month following the defense and to the Doctoral School. The report must be sent to the section of the National Council of Universities (CNU) corresponding to the discipline of the recipient, which allows him or her to obtain the qualification to teach.