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 defense jury must include at least 4 members and no more than 8 members, and at least half of them must be from another university. The chair of the jury must be a professor of rank A or similar. An associate professor with HDR is not allowed to chair the jury. At least half of the jury members must be professors or hold equivalent qualifications. The other jury members usually hold an HDR. A non-HDR faculty member may exceptionnaly be a jury member if his or her field of competency is recognized and is directly related to the thesis topic. Each jury member must receive a copy of the thesis sufficiently early to be able to examine it in depth.
- 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.