I read an interesting topic entitled "PhD candidate vs. PhD Student". I understood that the distinction between the use of those terms is strongly linked to the structure of PhD programs in the US/Canada. I wonder how should I phrase it for an application to a doctoral workshop that requires me to mention whether I am PhD student or candidate (I completed research master's coursework, passed agrégation examinations and defended my dissertation proposal before getting into doctoral school).
To be sure I well understand how it works in North-American universities: students often get admitted in 5-6 years PhD programs after graduating from a 4 years bachelor's degree. The PhD programs, therefore, include a 1 to 2 years first step (PhD student) in which students pursue intensive training in their field. Students have to work on a dissertation proposal which is defended at the end of that first step so that the second step (PhD candidate) deal with the completing the dissertation (reviewing relevant literature, structuring research questions, designing research protocols, testing, analyzing results ... and finally, writing the dissertation).
Considering that European students often have to complete a research master + research proposal (+ for humanities and social sciences in France, having passed a competitive examination for teaching which is called agrégation is often implicitly required, those demands seem similar to final exams of N-A PhD programs) before applying to 3-4 years PhD programs, should we consider they are "PhD candidates" from their entrance into PhD programs?