Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences (AI4theSciences) doctoral program

Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences (AI4theSciences) is a doctoral program run by Université PSL. 26 PhD contracts at the interfaces of artificial intelligence or big data processing are offered. AI4theSciences is supported and cofunded funded by the Horizon 2020-Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions-COFUND European program.

psl ai 4 the science

This unique, structuring and international project aims to create a research community from multiple PSL laboratories and schools, along with a dozen of private and public partners.

Initiated in October 2020, AI4theSciences is a five-year program, and will include two academic admissions, in September 2021 and September 2022. The students will not only receive a training specific to each PhD project, but also common courses and events: they will all be trained in AI and Machine Learning techniques, in writing articles for science popularization, in Open Science, in cross-disciplinary skills, etc. during weekly seminars and conferences.

Each doctoral student will benefit from a joint supervision: a supervisor, by a PSL expert in the chosen subject, and a co-supervision by a specialist in AI techniques or big data – who may work for laboratory outside PSL or for a private partner located in France or in Europe. The PhD positions are available in all PSL disciplines, as long as they use artificial intelligence or massive data processing techniques.

Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences is among the initiatives that contribute to strengthen PSL's research on our century's highest stakes.

Artificial Intelligence at PSL

Founding member of the PR[A]IRIE Institute and the ELLIS Paris unit, PSL is a leader in mathematical and computer techniques needed for AI and Machine Learning. The university also offers the ideal environment for the development of the technologies in all scientific disciplines. AI and machine learning are already integrated by our researchers in physics, chemistry, astrophysics, biology, cognitive sciences, social sciences, economics, finance, humanities, etc. Our Master's programs already include AI and Machine learning, through numerous multidisciplinary training activities offered by the DATA Science Program. PSL, one of the world's leading universities, offers exceptional research and education resources.


Planning of the “AI4TheSciences” COFUND admissions

Planning of admissions, first call




Call for PhD projects (PSL & partners)

June 2020

October 16, 2020

Check for eligibility

Octobre 19, 2020

November 16, 2020

Call for proposals to students

November 17, 2020

February 26, 2021

Selections for interviews

March 15, 2021

April 9, 2021

Interviews and admissions of applicants

June 1st, 2021

June 25, 2021


The selected PhD project will start in September 2021. In case of administrative issues (e.g. related to visa granting), a short postponement may be considered.
The same procedure will be set up for the second admission round with a start date in September 2022.


AI4TheSciences Call for PhD projects (closed)

The first step of the AI4theSciences project started with a call for PhD projects for the scientific teams of the PSL community.
Closed on October 16, 2020, the submitted PhD projects were assessed by the members of the Executive Board, according to the following criteria:

  • Interdisciplinary angle, guaranteed by an interdisciplinary pair of supervisors (one specialized in the research field of the PhD project and the other specialized in AI).
  • International angle, for instance via international partners that will host the doctoral student during a transfer, etc.
  • Feasibility of the project within the three-year duration of the dissertation work.

Eligible projects have been published on Euraxess in a call for applications (November 2020-February 2021).

The second call for PhD projects will be open in May 2021 for the academic year starting in September 2022.

Call for applications (open, until 26-02-2021)

Applications for PhD projects are open from the November 17, 2020 to February 26, 2021, on Euraxess and on the PSL admissions website. Students admitted will start their PhD work at the beginning of the 2021 academic year.

Requirements for applicants

  • Applicants must hold a master’s degree (or be in the process of obtaining one) or hold a University degree equivalent to a European Master’s (5-year duration) when the call is closed;/li>
  • There are no requirements based on nationality or age, but applicants should not have lived or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the deadline of the call (MSCA Mobility rule), namely between the 27th of February 2018 to the 26th of February 2021 ;
  • Applicants should be available to start the program on schedule.

The applicants should provide the following documents:

  • Transcripts translated into English of the master’s degree (or equivalent 5-year degree). A copy of the master’s degree or a certificate of achievement will be required later on for the final registration;
  • International resume and a cover letter explaining why the student wants to prepare a PhD, why they apply to this offer and their professional project (guidelines will be given to the applicants in order to help them in the writing of their letter);
  • Two reference letters written by academics;
  • A signed statement on the mobility rules, availability and conflicts of interest (the template available at the end of the guide for applicants).

The selection for the interviews (round 1) will begin on the 15th of March, 2021 and will close the 9th of April, 2021. All candidates will be contacted in April 2021. Interviews (round 2) will be held from June 1 to June 25, 2021.
For further information, please read the Guide for applicants.

Selection of applications

For the start of the 2021 academic year, 15 doctoral contracts, out of the 23 subjects listed below, will be jointly funded.

The future doctoral students of the program will be selected between from March and June 2021 in two rounds:

  • Selection on the basis of the application package from March 15, 2021 to April 9, 2021 (round 1)
  • Interviews with candidates from June 1 to June 25, 2021 (All candidates will be contacted in April 2021)

The excellence of the applicants - an essential principle of the Horizon 2020-MSCA projects - will lead to select the 15 PhD projects out of the 23 offered in the call. Out of the 23 projects open for application, 9 projects will therefore not be funded but may be submitted during the second AI4theSciences call for applications which will start in May 2021.

Appel à candidatures (clos le 26-02-2021)

Les candidatures sur les projets de thèse ont été ouvertes du 17 novembre 2020 au 26 février 2021, sur le site Euraxess et sur PSL recrutement. Les lauréates et lauréats commenceront leur doctorat à la rentrée 2021.

Critères d’éligibilité

  • Les candidats doivent disposer d’un diplôme de Master (ou être en cours d’obtention de ce diplôme) ou avoir un diplôme universitaire reconnu équivalent à un diplôme européen de Master (sanctionnant une durée de 5 ans d’études) à la date de fin de l’appel ;
  • Aucun critère lié à l’âge et à la nationalité ne s’applique mais les candidats doivent respecter la « règle de mobilité » MSCA : ils ne doivent pas avoir vécu ou suivi leurs études plus de 12 mois en France, entre le 27 février 2018 et 26 février 2021.
  • Les candidats doivent être disponibles pour un démarrage du programme en septembre 2021

Documents à fournir par les candidates et candidats dans leur dossier de candidature :

  • Une traduction anglaise de leur diplôme de Master (ou d’un diplôme équivalent sanctionnant 5 années d’études supérieures). Une copie du diplôme de Master ou une attestation temporaire seront demandées au moment de l’inscription définitive.
  • Un CV international et une lettre de motivation exposant les raisons amenant le candidat à entreprendre un doctorat, à postuler à une offre du programme AI4theSciences et précisant ses projets professionnels
  • Deux lettres de référence préparées par des universitaires
  • Une lettre de déclaration concernant les règles de mobilité, la disponibilité et les conflits d’intérêt, dûment signée par le candidat (téléchargeable dans le Guide for applicants)

Sélection des candidatures

Pour la rentrée 2021, 15 bourses doctorales, sur les 23 sujets listés ci-dessous, seront cofinancées. 

La sélection des futurs doctorantes et doctorants du programme se déroulera de mars à juin 2021 en deux temps :

  • Sélection sur dossier du 15 mars 2021 au 9 avril 2021 (round 1)
  • Audition des candidates et candidats du 1er juin au 25 juin 2021 (L’ensemble des candidates et candidats sera contacté courant avril 2021)

L’excellence des candidats, principe essentiel des projets Horizon 2020-MSCA, permettra de sélectionner les 15 projets de thèse sur les 23 proposés dans l’appel. Sur les 23 projets ouverts aux candidatures, 9 projets ne seront donc pas financés mais pourront être proposés lors du second appel à candidatures AI4theSciences qui débutera en mai 2021.

The 23 PhD subjects available for applications

Governance of the Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences program

The Management Team (MT)

The Management Team includes Bruno Bouchard, Scientific Coordinator of the project and Diane Gabeloteau, the Project Manager. The Project Manager is the direct contact for any question related to the project.

The Executive Board (EB)

The Executive Board is chaired by the AI4theSciences coordinator, Bruno Bouchard, and the Vice-President in charge of Graduate Research and Education and the Doctoral College at PSL and includes six scientists chosen by PSL among its academics. Special care has been taken to ensure that the Executive Board encompasses all disciplines and potential applications available at PSL. Chosen for their expertise in research or private sector as well as their knowledge of AI techniques and applications, EB members are: Jamal Atif, Chloé-Agathe Azencott, Giulio Biroli, Hubert Bost, Eric Brousseau, Sharon Peperkamp, Anne-Marie Turcan. The EB's missions are:

  • Verify the scientific eligibility of projects submitted under the two calls for PhD projects
  • Ensure that the submitted PhD projects meet the COFUND expectations, and that they are scientifically approved.
  • Suggest for each call for doctoral projects the members of the Selection Committee
  • Approve the annual budget of AI4theSciences
  • Manage possible conflict resolution
The Selection Committee (SC)

The Selection Committee includes between 8 - 16 independent experts, internationally renowned specialists of AI and its applications, depending on the diversity of the PhD projects submitted by PSL scientists, to ensure that all relevant areas are available. The committee includes PSL academic experts (50%), external academics (25%) and business experts (25%).

The Selection Committee is in charge of the selection and ranking of the applicants at round 1 and 2 of the admission process. The committee will released one ranking list of the 15 admitted students as well as the waiting list. The list indicates which projects will or will not be set up.

Selection committee members

•    Alexandre Allauzen
•    Silke Biermann
•    Isabelle Bloch
•    François Boulanger
•    Justine Cassel
•    Jean-Michel Dalle
•    Romuald Elie
•    Rémi Monasson
•    Anne Siegel

The Committee on Safeguards (CS)
The Committee on Safeguards will include the PSL HR Director, one elected doctoral student and two referents of the scientific integrity who will be independently nominated by the Vice-President for Student Life and Social and Environmental Responsibility.

The Committee on Safeguards, together with the Executive Board, guarantees the fairness of the project and the respect of ethical rules. It meets when necessary and takes charge of the appeal procedures filed by candidates during the pre-selection and admission procedures.

The logic behing the Horizon 2020-MSCA-COFUND actions

Horizon 2020 is the EU Research and Innovation program. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) - COFUND funding of Horizon 2020 aims to foster excellence in the education, mobility and career development of researchers. The funded projects have a very high level of requirement in terms of transparency in the selection, admission and career management processes of the researchers who won the call.

The projects are expected to offer attractive working conditions and to promote gender equality and inclusiveness in the pursuit of excellence. These PhD projects include outreach activities and aim to inform the public about the societal stakes of research.

Although they are "bottom-up", MSCA-COFUND projects must respect the "3i" rule, and be interdisciplinary, international, and intersectoral (linked to the non-academic sectors). The PhD laureates must respect the MSCA "mobility rule", i.e. not have lived more than 12 months in the project country during the last three years at the time of their application. There is no requirement on the applicants' citizenships. This is intended to promote European mobility and build the European research area (ERA).


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