Are you a research leader eager to develop ambitious collaborative interdisciplinary projects? The Marie Skłodowska Curie Doctoral Networks (MSCA-DN) call offers an exceptional opportunity to shape the future of research while training the next generation of researchers. In this blogpost, we will provide an overview of the most important aspects of the programme, offering insights and guidelines to help you navigate the proposal preparation process for the MSCA-DN call.

MSCA-DN calls fund the implementation of doctoral programmes with an emphasis on solving important scientific challenges, by partnerships of organisations from different sectors across Europe and beyond. The doctoral programmes seek to train highly skilled doctoral candidates to stimulate their creativity, enhance their innovation capacities and boost their employability in the long term.

Aims and focus of the MSCA-DN programme:

 New research and transferable skills and competences for predoctoral researchers, leading to improved employability and career prospects within and outside academia

 New knowledge allowing the conversion of ideas into products and services, where relevant

 Enhanced networking and communication capacities with scientific peers, as well as with the general public that will increase and broaden the research and innovation impact

 Improved quality, relevance and sustainability of doctoral training programmes and supervision arrangements in European institutions

 Enhanced cooperation and transfer of knowledge between sectors and disciplines within European countries

 Increased integration of training and research activities between participating organisations in European countries

 Boosted R&I capacity

 Increased internationalisation and attractiveness

 Regular feedback of research results into teaching and education at participating organisations

To fulfil these aims, MSCA-DN grants fund joint doctoral programmes projected by consortia formed by a minimum of 3 beneficiaries in institutions within EU member states or associated countries. Each programme can be awarded a maximum of 2.8 M€. MSCA-DN’s success rates have experienced a significant increase in the last few years (rising from 9.8% in 2020 to 15.8% in 2022).

To increase your MSCA-DN project’s chances of success, it is important to keep in mind that MSCA actions are training programmes rather than only research actions. Hence, it is essential to carefully develop a training plan for doctoral students involved in the project. Therefore, it is essential to develop a comprehensive training plan for doctoral students involved in the doctoral network. The plan should encompass the development of research projects, and include specific plans to develop their transferable skills, secondments and stays in non-academic environments, and networking opportunities. Providing interdisciplinary and intersectoral training is beneficial for evaluations.

Types of MSCA-DN actions and eligibility:

There are three categories of MSCA-DN actions:

Standard DN (DN): 

  • Offer a maximum of 360 person-months for a maximum of 10 candidates
  • From 3 to 10 beneficiaries involved (average 2021: 8 beneficiaries)
  • Success rate (2021): 12.9 %
  • 123 DN have been awarded in the last call (2022) 

Industrial Doctorates (DN-ID): 

  • Offer a maximum of 540 person-months for a maximum of 15 candidates
  • 50% of the fellowship must be implemented in a non-academic institution
  • From 4 to 18 beneficiaries involved (average 2021: 10 beneficiaries)
  • Success rate (2021): 18.2%
  • 14 DN-ID have been awarded in the last call (2022)

Joint Doctorates (DN-JD): 

  • Offer a maximum of 540 person-months for a maximum of 15 candidates
  • The PhD award must be joint between two or more institutions 
  • From 4 to 12 beneficiaries involved (average 2021: 7 beneficiaries)
  • Success rate (2021): 14.1%
  • 12 DN-JDs have been awarded in the last call (2022).

General eligibility criteria:

  • No more than 40% of the contribution may be allocated to beneficiaries in the same countries or to a single organisation
  • All beneficiaries must recruit at least one doctoral candidate

Important dates:

The call opened the past 30th of May of 2023 and you have until the 28th of November of 2023 to submit your proposal. We recommend planning your writing process well ahead of the deadline to maximise your chances of success.