Doctoral Programme on Marine Ecosystem Health and Conservation
 Selection & Evaluation Procedure

Selection Procedure

The selection of grantees is a competitive process based on the academic performance and credentials of the doctoral candidates, in order to guarantee the selection of high-quality researchers.

Eligibility check
: In a first phase all applications will be checked on their technical admission requirements (such as diploma & language requirements and the recommendation letters). In case candidates do not fulfill these requirements they will not be academically reviewed. This preparatory phase of selection is organized by the MARES secretariat. 

: In a second phase the MARES Scientific Board and the future supervisors will review all technically complete application files. A final priority list of doctoral candidates, eligible for an Erasmus Mundus doctoral grant, will be based on academic scores, marine ecosystem health and conservation interest and background, motivations and other relevant criteria. Further, two recommendation letters will be taken into account (with as criteria the names and reputation of the referees, their ranking of the Master student, their evaluation of the language and other capacities of the student). Extra language skills are a positive selection criterion. 

This evaluation process is organized using an online platform. Evaluators (8 members of the MARES Scientific Board) will have online access to all application files and will be able to score according to the predefined selection criteria. Future supervisors will evaluate the applications in the same way. 

In order to get a good view on the motivation and background of the candidates interviews may be organized (through Skype or phone) for the top 20 candidates. Based on these evaluations, the candidates will be ranked in a priority list. 

The final step in the selection process is composing the main and reserve list of doctoral candidates as required by EU-EACEA. Based on this ranking, candidates will be assigned their first or second topic of interest. The list with second choice topics allows for the selection of the best candidates irrespective of their chosen topics, since a too limited number of topics to choose from - similar in number to the EM fellowships -, could inadvertently allow for less qualitative candidates applying for a less "popular" topic, to obtain a fellowship. 

: The Main and Reserve list with doctoral candidates, proposed by the MARES Scientific Board, will be approved by the MARES Management Board and will be forwarded to the EU-Agency for approval under the conditions set up by the EU. After approval by EU, the coordinator will contact the selected candidates to start the registration procedures and mobility arrangements (invitation letters to obtain visa, preparation of employment contracts, preparation of the candidate doctoral agreements).

Selection Criteria:
  • Eligibility criteria:
    • Diploma Requirements (yes/no)
      • A prerequisite for admission is that applicants have a Master degree in Biology, Ecology, Environmental Sciences, Oceanography, Marine Sciences, Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, or other equivalent degrees. In fact a minimum requirement of 240 ECTS or equivalent to 4 years of graduate studies with thesis is eligible.
      • Paper versions of diplomas (or transcript of records for those who have not yet obtained their diploma)
    • Language Requirements (yes/no)
      • A recent TOEFL Certificate: minimum score: 570 points (Paper) or 87 points (Internet)
      • Or a recent IELTS Certificate: minimum score: 6.5
      • Or a recent First Certificate in English of the University of Cambridge
      • Or a recent Certificate of a University Language Centre testifying that the student masters the necessary knowledge of English to function academically (specify CEF-level) - C1 level
      • Or a recent proof that the candidate followed at least 2 Years of higher education taught in English
  • Evaluation criteria:
    • Study Results (score from 1 to 5)
      • Weight of 35%
    • Motivation Letter (score from 1 to 5)
      • Weight of 35%
    • Recommendation Letters (score from 1 to 5)
      • Weight of 10%
    • Scientific output / Relevant skills / Experiences / CV (score from 1 to 5)
      • Publications (international peer reviewed) and posters
      • Weight of 20%
Without prejudice to high academic standards, in order to ensure geographical diversity among the doctoral candidates, no more than two doctoral candidates with the same nationality can be awarded an EMJD fellowship in the same Edition of the same Doctoral programme

Indicative Timeline:
  • Application phase: September - December
  • Evaluation phase: December - January
  • Awarding decision / meeting : early February
  • Provisional Selection status (and preliminary communication): by the end of February.
  • Final approval by EACEA: expected early May. 


At the end of the selection stage applicants have the possibility to appeal against the decisions of the MARES Scientific Board. You cannot make an appeal against the outcome of your selection status, the appeal can only be against the selection procedures followed. 

The MARES Secretariat will be responsible on behalf of the MARES Scientific Board to inform the applicants about the outcome of the selection phase within 15 working days from the publication of the selection results on the MARES website and the notification thereof by email to all applicants. 

The MARES Appeal form contains detailed rules about how and when submitting the document. The appeal form should be signed, dated and send by email to 

Once the MARES Secretariat receives the appeal form, the sender will receive an acknowledgement of receipt by e-mail. The appeal will then be investigated by the Mares coordinator and the Mares Secretariat and if needed extra feedback will be obtained from the Mares Scientific Board.

Within 20 working days, the appealer will receive the outcome of the appeal with the reasons for rejecting or accepting it.


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Last update on 20/12/2017 -
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