Marie Curie PhD Scholarships: Enabling groundbreaking scientific research


Marie Curie was one of the most accomplished scientists in history. As the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, in two different scientific fields no less, she broke barriers and inspired countless people with her pioneering research on radioactivity. Even today, over 100 years later, her legacy of empowering women in science continues to impact the world. Marie Curie PhD Scholarships play an important role in supporting the next generation of female scientists and helping their innovative research push the boundaries of knowledge.

What are Marie Curie PhD Scholarships?

Marie Curie PhD Scholarships are prestigious European Union grants awarded to exceptional early-stage researchers pursuing doctoral degrees in EU Member States and Associated Countries. The scholarships aim to enhance the career perspectives and employability of researchers by providing funding and international exposure. Specifically, the scholarships finance research projects in any field within EU Member States or Associated Countries, different from the researcher’s home country. This international mobility experience broadens research training and helps build long-lasting international collaborations.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a Marie Curie PhD Scholarship, applicants must meet certain criteria:


Applicants can be of any nationality but must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the host country for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the call deadline.

Education Level

Applicants must have a university degree allowing them to embark on a PhD program in the host country. Typically this means a master’s degree (or equivalent) in a related field.

Language Proficiency

Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in the main teaching language of the proposed host institution/department. Language assessments may be required.

Research Quality

Applicants must submit an outstanding research proposal, jointly defined with their prospective PhD supervisor, that aligns with Marie Curie goals of scientific excellence and innovation potential.

Benefits and Funding

Marie Curie PhD Scholarships provide very competitive funding packages to support researchers throughout their doctoral research projects. The typical overall funding period is 3-4 years.

Some key benefits include:

  • A living allowance (salary) to cover living costs, which is periodically adjusted based on the cost of living in the host country.
  • A mobility allowance to help cover international travel and relocation costs to the host country.
  • A family allowance to support married scholars or those with children.
  • A research budget to cover project costs such as equipment, consumables, conferences, publications, etc.
  • Opportunities for training courses and participation in conferences and events.
  • Assistance with the visa application process and social security registration in the host country.

The funding levels are quite generous and aim to minimize financial barriers to pursuing doctoral research abroad. With typical salaries upwards of €3,000 per month in Western Europe, the scholarships provide a very comfortable standard of living while also allowing scholars to fully focus on their research. Additional funding may also be available in some cases, for example to support Open Science training.

Career Impact

Completing a Marie Curie PhD has significant long-term career benefits for researchers in terms of knowledge, skills and professional network gained. Some of the most important impacts include:

  • Exposure to international research environments and collaboration opportunities that last well beyond the project itself. This is highly valued in an increasingly globalized research field.
  • Advanced skillset encompassing cutting-edge research methods, project management, presentation, teaching, mentoring and more from a top-level university.
  • Multilingual, intercultural competencies that support mobility in academia or other innovation-driven sectors internationally.
  • Increased independence, creativity and leadership abilities developed over the course of defining and executing a significant research project.
  • Formal credentials of a high-quality PhD from a prestigious European university that strengthen academic CVs and publication lists.
  • Wider employment prospects internationally in academic, industrial or policy environments seeking innovative doctorate-level talent.
  • Potential to build an impressive academic career thanks to the head start and connections gained early on during the Marie Curie phase of research.

In short, the long-term impact of Marie Curie PhD Scholarships on employability and career progression is enormous, especially considering it comes at the very start of one’s doctoral studies. It opens doors previously unseen.

Impactful Research Areas

Marie Curie funded research projects span practically all domains of science – from health to the environment, from physics to digital technologies, and much more. Some examples:

Health and Medicine

  • Preventing antimicrobial resistance
  • New cancer immunotherapies
  • Regenerative therapies for spinal cord injuries
  • Biomedical imaging techniques
  • Global health policy research

Environment and Sustainability

  • Improving climate change impact models
  • Developing carbon capture technologies
  • Circular economy approaches in cities
  • Water resource management techniques
  • Conservation technologies for biodiversity

Physics and Engineering

  • Quantum computing algorithms
  • Space materials and robotics
  • Synthetic biology developments
  • Advanced nanotechnologies
  • Renewable energy storage solutions

Technology and Digital Futures

  • AI safety and ethics considerations
  • 6G wireless network architectures
  • Cybersecurity in critical infrastructure
  • Big data analytics for precision medicine
  • Blockchain applications in logistics

As you can see, Marie Curie researchers tackle ambitious projects at the forefront of global issues, applying multidisciplinary methods to generate breakthrough solutions. Their research fosters scientific excellence while also stimulating the knowledge economy and technology progress in Europe.


How competitive are Marie Curie PhD Scholarships?

Marie Curie scholarships are immensely competitive, with only around 10-15% of applicants being selected each year. Applicants need truly outstanding academic profiles,CVs, research proposals and letters of recommendation to succeed. It helps significantly to target carefully selected host institutions with a strong match between proposed research and expertise. Early pre-proposal consultation is strongly advised.

What fields of research are best suited?

While Marie Curie scholarships accept research across all domains, certain ‘Future and Emerging Technologies’ (FET)-related fields may have additional eligibility and evaluation criteria, as they align well with Marie Curie goals of high-risk/high-gain research. These include nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, photonics, cognitive science, robotics and more. Interdisciplinary projects also tend to fare very well.

How long does the application and selection process take?

The timeline varies slightly per call but applications are typically due around September-October each year. Shortlisted candidates may be interviewed between January-March. Final decisions are released by April-May. Successful candidates normally begin their projects by October at the latest. So the process takes 8-9 months from application to project start. Advance planning is key.

Is it possible to pursue a Marie Curie within Europe as a European citizen?

Yes, European citizens can apply but they must move countries – so undertaking the PhD in a different eligible European country than their nationality or most recent country of residence. Remote access options without physical mobility are usually not supported, as international exposure is a core goal of the program.

Are there requirements after the PhD completes?

There are no direct work requirements after completion. However, many Marie Curie alumni become science ambassadors and continue collaborating internationally. Some may opt to remain in Europe, but others return to start innovative ventures or research careers worldwide.

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