Irstea has forged established links with higher education (an agreement, renewed in 2010, links the organisation with the Conference of University Presidents). In 2018, 144 organisation employees were authorised to lead research.
Irstea doctorate students are paid by the organisation and are given a doctoral contract or are welcomed into the research units and funded by external means (CIFRE (Industrial conventions for training through research), regional or international funding, research allocations, etc.)
Every year, Irstea launches a PhD campaign and co-funds over twenty theses. The implementation campaign is open during the first quarter of each year and the candidates are chosen by the Admissions Commission in June.