The French Ministry of Agriculture implements a doctoral program for executives from its specialized administrative corps to develop lasting linkages between food policy makers and academia. Every year a limited number of positions are open to civil servants who wish to complement their technical and managerial education by three years of doctoral research. After undertaking PhD studies on a specific subject, these executives are better able to tackle the complex multi-stakeholder systems that characterize agrifood and environmental issues. They also develop an analytical framework and a better understanding of research methods and networks. This program helps to build institutional bridges between research and policy-making networks, allowing research to respond to genuine policy problems on the one hand, and policy makers to orient research more effectively while making better use of research methods and networks on the other.