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Marie Curie - Doctoral Networks (DNs)

The MSCA Innovative Training Network (ITN) scheme under Horizon 2020 is now called MSCA Doctoral Network (DN) under Horizon Europe.

MSCA DNs are European-level training networks essentially fund training for doctoral candidates via international networks of academic and non-academic institutions.

DNs are designed to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative researchers. After training,  researchers must be awarded a doctoral-level degree and should also have the skills needed to proactively work and communicate across different disciplines, sectors and national boundaries. DN projects provide research and transferable skills training at both individual researcher and network level.

The scheme also aims to raise the quality of doctoral training, making it more structured across the EU as well as competitive on a global scale.


The next MSCA DN call is expected to open on 29 May 2024 with a deadline of 27 November 2024.

MSCA DN Key Information

DN projects can last for a maximum of 48 months (except in the case of Joint Doctorates where this maximum duration is 60 months). The application can be based on any area of research apart from some atomic energy research (this is covered by the Euratom Treaty).

The organisations that employ researchers are known as 'beneficiaries'. All beneficiaries must recruit at least one doctoral candidate. Other organisations that take part in the network, but do not employ a researcher are known as 'associated partners' (e.g. provide secondment, training opportunities).

Beneficiaries vs Associated Partners

Beneficiaries (=project partner):

  • sign the grant agreement
  • recruit/host researchers
  • contribute to the direction of the project

Associated partners:

  • offer training or secondment to Fellows.
  • are associated to project, not contracted (they do not sign the grant agreement)
  • can be potential future employers of the fellows

MSCA Doctoral Network Models

There are three types of MSCA Doctoral Network that could be applied for:

  • Doctoral Networks (standard model)
  • Industrial Doctorates
  • Joint Doctorates

The overall EU contribution for all types of MSCA Doctoral Networks actions is limited to a maximum of 540 person-months. The duration of each fellowship for Doctoral Networks (standard model) and Industrial Doctoral Networks is minimum 3 months and maximum 36 months, meaning there can be a maximum of 15 ESRs per network. In the case of joint doctorates however, the maximum duration of a fellowship is 48 months.

Doctoral Networks (DN) - Standard Model

Eligibility criteria:

All beneficiaries must recruit at least one doctoral candidate. They are required to host at their premises and supervise recruited researchers, or use associated partners linked to them to do so.

Industrial Doctorates (DN-ID)

Industrial Doctorates allow doctoral candidates to step outside academia and develop skills in industry and business. They are jointly supervised by academic and non-academic organisations.

Eligibility criteria:
  •  At least three different beneficiary organisations established in three different EU Member States or Associated Countries. At least one of them established in an EU Member State.
  • At least one beneficiary must be from the academic sector and at least one must be from the non-academic sector.
  • Once the minimum consortium requirements have been met, it is possible to include additional beneficiaries and associated partners.
  • Additional beneficiaries will need to be established in EU Member States, Horizon Europe Associated Countries, or low- or middle- income non-associated third countries listed as automatically eligible for funding.
  • Legal entities in countries not in list of countries eligible for funding will only be eligible for funding if the granting authority considers their participation essential for project implementation.
  • Associated partners can be located anywhere in the world.
  • The researchers recruited must spend a minimum of 50% of their time in a non-academic sector organisation.

Joint Doctorates (DN-JD)

Joint Doctorates represent a highly integrated type of international, inter-sectoral and multi/interdisciplinary collaboration in doctoral training. They deliver joint, double or multiple doctoral degrees recognised in at least two EU Member States or Horizon Europe Associated Countries.

Consortia can apply for up to 540 months of ESR training and ESRs must be enrolled on joint, double or multiple award doctoral degree programmes.

Eligibility criteria:

Eligibility conditions: Recruited researchers

  • Researchers recruited onto a DN must be doctoral candidates, i.e. not already in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of recruitment. (Researchers who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis but who have not yet formally been awarded the doctoral degree will not be considered eligible).
  • Recruited researchers can be of any nationality. They must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date.
  • Researchers must be enrolled in a doctoral programme in at least one EU Member State or Associated Country, and for Joint Doctorates in at least two.


The budget is calculated using unit costs based on the number of researcher months applied for.

Paid to the fellow*
Euros per/month
Paid to the beneficiary
Euros per ESR/per month
Living allowanceMobility allowanceFamily allowance
(if applicable)
Long-term leave allowance (if applicable)Special needs allowance
(if applicable)
Participation allowance (research, training and networking costs)Management & direct costs
EUR 4010EUR 710EUR 660EUR 4720 x % covered by the beneficiaryRequested unit x (1 per number of months)EUR 1600EUR 1200

*Host employment costs are deducted from the allowances shown before the fellow is paid.

  • The living allowance is adjusted dependent on the country coefficient (see p.141-142) of the individual beneficiary.
  • Family allowance is dependent on the personal circumstances of the ESR i.e. whether they have family obligations or acquire family obligations during the action duration.
  • The long-term leave allowance contributes to the beneficiary’s pay obligations related to researchers’ leave, including maternity, paternity, parental, sick or special leave, longer than 30 consecutive days. 
  • Special needs allowance contributes to the additional costs of researchers with disabilities.

Evaluation, Resubmission restrictions and success rates


Proposals are evaluated on three main criteria: the Excellence (50%), Impact (30%) and Implementation (20%) of the research & training programme.

Resubmission Restrictions

Proposals submitted to the previous (2023) MSCA Doctoral Networks call having received a score of less than 80% cannot resubmit to the following year (2024 MSCA Doctoral Network call).

Success Rates

Scores for successful applications vary by evaluation panel. In 2020, the lowest threshold for an application to be successful was a score of 89.8% and the highest was 96.6% . The overall success rates for the 2020 call were:

  • ETN 8.9%
  • EID 14.8%
  • EJD 14.6%

MSCA DNs@Leeds

The University of Leeds has an impressive track record of success under the DN (formerly ITN) calls.

  • Under FP7 the University co-ordinated 14 networks and was a partner in a further 15, making it one of the most successful applicants to the scheme.
  • Under Horizon 2020, the University has been awarded 31 co-ordinated ETNs, 9 co-ordinated EIDs and is a partner in further 30 ETNs and 3 EJD.

The Marie Curie Fellows Forum

The Marie Curie Fellows Forum, set up by the EU Team, is a new initiative that provides a space for sharing of best practice and practical experiences with other MSCA Fellows (currently over 45 in post). It also adds an additional layer of mentorship through a buddying system which pairs new MSCA researchers with more established MSCA Fellows who will have experienced similar issues.

For more information on the Marie Curie Fellows Forum, please consult our Networking & External Engagement page.

Project management & post-award

Successful DN Coordinators usually employ part-time Project Managers to help them with the administrative management of their DN project.

Post award support is also provided by the Faculty Research and Innovation Office and the EU Post Award Team.

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