I have a master's degree in genomics and data analysis from Aix Marseille University.

Unfortunately, I haven't done so well with my master's courses and have gotten bad grades all along, and my annual average was very low (11.63/20). I had financial difficulties so I had to work on the weekends and sometimes after classes so I wasn't very focused on getting the best grades. Another factor to my failure was that I had to move to another country and depend 100% on myself.

During my master internship I did well, and my supervisor offered me a contract to work as an assistant engineer for a year in a research lab and was featured in a recently published paper.

I want to have a research career and have decided that I would like to get a PhD in a French university. However, I am very hesitant and feeling defeated because of my low marks. Is there any chance for me to get accepted in a PhD program?

  • You can apply and see what happens. Aug 3, 2021 at 22:10

2 Answers 2


Master grades are only one of the criteria used to assess potential PhD candidates, and there is so much variation between different masters that it's not used as an absolute measure. Of course good grades help, but in general I would say don't worry too much about it. If needed don't hesitate to clarify that you had some personal difficulties, but you might not even have to.

Try to emphasize your motivation for doing research, insist on the good experience in your master internship. If your master supervisor can write you a good recommendation letter that would certainly help as well. If possible show that you have some of the skills needed for a PhD: for example organisational skills, writing skills, good English level. And of course try to target a supervisor who works in a domain/topic that you're interested in.

Good luck :)

  • Is this based on knowledge of French PhD admissions in particular? For comparison, it is common for German universities to have minimum requirements for MSc grades written into their PhD regulations.
    – Arno
    Aug 4, 2021 at 10:32
  • 4
    @Arno yes, although to be fair my knowledge is from 10 years ago so things may have changed. Also my domain is not the same as OP so there might be differences about that as well. To my knowledge strict grades requirements are unlikely in most French universities, however for PhD applications there can be some bias towards local known students.
    – Erwan
    Aug 4, 2021 at 11:06

The grade in itself may not provide a complete picture (scales may differ between universities and fields); your class ranking, if you know it, might be important as well.

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