Shape your career with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

by Aurelia Chaise

‘Developing talents, advancing research’. This is the motto of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). Find out how they can act as a springboard at any stage of a researcher’s career.

This year, the MSCA programme will celebrate its 25th anniversary, on 29 November 2021.

Over these past years, the MSCA have contributed to boosting the career of scientists from all over the world. Providing an attractive salary and good working conditions, as well as solid frameworks like the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, the MSCA contribute to developing excellent doctoral and postdoctoral programmes.

The five different MSCA (Doctoral Networks, Postdoctoral Fellowships, COFUND, Staff Exchanges, and MSCA & Citizens) aim to equip researchers with new knowledge and skills. They also encourage mobility between countries, disciplines and sectors, in and outside academia. Researchers can always apply for a Fellowship, no matter which stage of their career they are in.


MSCA for Doctoral Candidates

Researchers not yet holding a PhD and planning to conduct research abroad have the possibility to apply for an MSCA for Doctoral Candidates.

By checking directly on the job offers published on the EURAXESS portal, they can find a position and apply directly to the university or organisation of their choice. The future host organisation is in charge of the recruitment and enrols the researcher in a PhD.

The contract includes a monthly allowance, covering salary and travel costs, as well as social security coverage. Researchers can receive a family allowance if they have a partner or children, and even a disability allowance, if needed.

The MSCA also finances training, research and networking activities that allow the researcher to acquire new skills and to work with leading businesses, industries or other private organisations.


MSCA for Postdoctoral Researchers

Researchers (with less than eight years of experience since the awarding of their PhD) planning to pursue their career in another country can apply for Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Calls are published every year for the attention of researchers in all fields of research, from every country in the world.

There are two types of Postdoctoral Fellowships:

  • European Fellowships to conduct research in an EU Member State or country associated with the Horizon Europe programme, regardless of nationality;
  • Global Fellowships that allow to conduct research outside Europe with a mandatory return to an EU Member State or country associated with Horizon Europe.


The researcher needs to ensure that they apply jointly with a host organisation to conduct research in a different country, with respect to the one where the researcher is currently living or working.

The contract includes a monthly allowance, covering salary and travel costs, as well as social security coverage. Researchers can receive a family allowance if they have a partner or children, and even a disability allowance, if needed.

The MSCA finances training, research and networking activities, allowing the researcher to gain new international experience as well as exposure to other disciplines and sectors.


The MSCA make science accessible to all

Open science is an open and collaborative way of producing and sharing scientific knowledge and data and for communicating and sharing research results. It offers new tools for scientific collaboration, experiments and analysis and makes scientific knowledge more easily accessible. Open access to publications funded through the MSCA is therefore mandatory.

All proposals funded under the MSCA should foster an open science culture.

In this scope, researchers must deposit their peer-reviewed scientific publications in a trusted depository.

MSCA Fellows should also engage in research collaborations and information sharing thanks to new digital technologies.


Promoting an MSCA project

Outreach activities are an integral part of an MSCA Fellowship. Each Fellow therefore has the possibility to become the ambassador of their MSCA project.

For example, Fellows can participate in open doors days, where students and citizens receive first-hand experience, visiting labs and research institutions.

Public debates, TV talk shows, podcasts, newspaper articles and online chats can also help increase the visibility of an MSCA project.

Finally, the European Researchers’ Night, which takes place once a year, represents the perfect opportunity to showcase an MSCA project.


Engage with Policymakers

MSCA Fellows can directly engage with policymakers and ensure that decisions about health, safety and environment are based on the best scientific evidence, for example.

For this purpose, Fellows have to create a link between their research and the policy debate.

A first step could be to find the relevant policymakers in their research field. Once key persons are identified, it is crucial to choose the right moment to engage, for example when the media cover topics in the policy field linked to their research.

Another tip is to always be understandable, to drop the jargon and to use appealing wording. Identifying three key messages for the attention of a policymaker could represent a relevant strategy, to be better understood.

Eventually, a researcher needs to find allies and to connect with other MSCA Fellows and also with civil society movements or lobby groups.


Want to know more? Watch these videos to get further information about the MSCA:

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – General presentation:

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions for Postdoctoral researchers – Advance your research career:

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions for Doctoral candidates – Embark on a career in research:

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – Open Science: make Science accessible to all:

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – Engagement with policy-makers:

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – Communication and Outreach:




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