HDR – Accreditation to Supervise Research

Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (HDR, Accreditation to Direct Research) is the highest university degree awarded in France. 
HDR researchers are recognized for their high-level of scientific training and expertise, the originality of their scientific approach within a particular field, their capacity to master a research strategy within a sufficiently broad scientific or technological domain, and their capability to supervise young researchers. 

The HDR degree was created in 1984 by the Act of 26 January 1984 (so-called “Savary Act”), to fill the gap left by the abolition of the State Doctorate. HDR-holders can apply for university professorships (following their registration on the “qualification list” by the CNU – National Council of Universities), serve as a thesis supervisor and be chosen as a thesis reviewer (rapporteur in French). HDR accreditation is also strongly recommended to apply for a position as an EPST research director. 

The HDR degree is awarded by the universities of each site. Below, you will find information according to your university of registration. 
HDR applicants must: 

  • Hold a doctorate degree or,
  • Hold a doctor’s degree in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or veterinary medicine, as well as a degree awarded for advanced studies or a Research Master’s degree,
  • Or be able to prove a degree, work or experience equivalent to a doctorate. 

The last provision notably applies to holders of a post-graduate degree or a doctorate in engineering, complemented by other work or full-time research-and-teaching experience of at least 5 years. 
Applicants can only apply to register at a single institution during a single academic year. Applicants having already been registered at another institution with a view to pursuing this degree must make this known. 
Registration applications are examined by the president or director of the institution, who then rules based upon the recommendations of the scientific council (comprising HDR research directors) and the applicant’s research director (if he/she has one).