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GSNS application guide

GSNS calls for applications four times a year - please see the deadlines below. You can apply for a PhD position with either your own project description via the general call or for one of the positions on the list of specific calls. GSNS does not charge an application fee.
This guide applies to all PhD applicants no matter the type of PhD study structure.

To ensure that your application fulfills all the requirements, please read all the information below carefully before you apply.

Before you apply

General and specific calls

The general call

Application through the general call means that you apply for a PhD position with your own project description. Before starting the application process, it is strongly recommended that you contact a prospective supervisor in order to discuss a potential project. This may contribute to writing a better and more targeted application. Furthermore, it is a good idea to inquire about possible financing, since the likelihood of securing admission through the general call depends on the available resources of the supervisor and the PhD programme for which you apply.

You can find AU researchers/potential supervisors by searching on subject headings here. Furthermore, you can find more info on the various PhD programmes at GSNS on each of the programme websites.


The specific call

Application via the specific call means that you apply for one of the PhD positions on the list of specific calls. Please note that the list is regularly updated and will be complete approximately two weeks before the application deadline. If you can’t find a project within your field of research on the list, please have a look later or apply via the general call.

You can apply for various projects within an application round, but please note that GSNS only evaluates one application per applicant per specific project. If you submit more than one application for the same project, GSNS reserves the right to evaluate only the latest application received.

Application deadlines and start dates

There are four PhD application deadlines each year, and the application system opens two months before each deadline. You can apply for a PhD position under the open call via the general call or the specific call. The deadlines are the same no matter which type of call you apply for: 

Call open for applications

Review of applications

Decision informed to applicants

Earliest start date*

1 December -
1 February

February - March

End of March

1 May

1 March - 1 May

May - June

End of June

1 August

1 June - 1 August

August - September

End of September

1 November

1 September -
1 November

November - December 

Beginning of January

1 February

NB: Application deadlines are at 23:59 PM (midnight) CET/CEST.

*The start date depends on various factors, e.g. final enrollment requirements/details, getting a study- and residence permit (international students), etc.

Start date if you are a non-Danish applicant

GSNS must receive your application for a PhD position at least three months (for EU citizens) or four months (for international citizens) prior to the preferred start date. For example, if you want to start in the period 1 August – 1 October, GSNS must receive your application no later than the May call (deadline 1 May). You can also choose to apply for one the previous calls i.e. February or November.

Application process for applicants without a MSc degree

You are welcome to apply for a PhD position before you obtain your Master’s degree. This will enable you to be evaluated and accepted in good time, so you can start your PhD study straight after your Master’s graduation. In this case, you must upload your Bachelor’s transcripts and diploma, as well as your Master’s transcripts to the application. Once you obtain your Master's diploma, you must send it to GSNS as soon as possible (regardless of whether it is before or after the assessment process).

Please note that you have the option of applying for enrolment based on your Bachelor’s degree with or without credits. You can read more about this on the “PhD study structure and income” page.

Assessment criteria

The GSNS admission committee evaluates all the various elements in each application, but some elements in your application will have more weight than others.

The main criteria used in evaluating incoming applicants are their documented qualifications (composition of previous course programme, grades, publications, motivation, study periods abroad, duration of study, recommendations, etc.).

Regarding grade point average: GSNS does not have a fixed requirement for a minimum level of the grade point average. However, you can use the grade point average requirements from the Industrial PhD scheme (page 3-4) as a guideline for the approximate minimum level for PhD admission.

Secondary criteria are the scientific quality of the prepared research project for the PhD degree programme and the suitability of the research environment for such a project.

Additional aspects that can be taken into consideration include previous activities outside the university, plans for mobility during the PhD study period, plans for collaboration with external partners, plans for dissemination activities, etc. 

When assessing applicants with a Master’s degree, more weight is placed on the secondary criteria and additional aspects than for applicants without a Master’s degree.

Prospective supervisor, financing and tuition

Prospective supervisor

It is strongly recommended that a prospective supervisor is contacted before applying via an general call in order to discuss a potential project and inquire about possible financing. The likelihood of securing admission through the general call depends on the available resources of the supervisor and PhD programme for which the student applies.

To learn more about our PhD programmes and to find a researcher to contact about possible supervision, please visit the programme website or search for a researcher by subject here.

Financing and tuition

Admission to a PhD programme of study is contingent upon financing. Financing can come from a variety of sources such as public or private research foundations, private companies, EU programmes, etc. These types of funding are often secured through the PhD supervisor. Some international PhD students receive financing from their home country, and some PhD students are employed in private companies, most often as part of the Industrial PhD programme.

If a student is admitted, it is the responsibility of Aarhus University to ensure that a complete financing plan is in place for the PhD student in connection with admission. The plan covers all expenses for the PhD programme: Scholarship/fellowship, tuition fee, running costs, incl. expenses for mobility plans, etc.

All accepted PhD students must pay tuition. In most cases, tuition is covered by the PhD financing plan. However, if the PhD student is self-financed, for example via international grants or private funding, the PhD student must secure the tuition fee him- or herself.

Information and attachments needed for the application

Before you start the application you must have all relevant appendices, attachments, addresses for referees, etc. ready, since the entire application must be uploaded in one go. A partially completed application cannot be saved and completed later. However, the application will stay open for filling out for as long as the browser window is open.

As a minimum, all applications must include curriculum vitae, transcripts and diploma(s), grade point averages (weighted and unweighted), project description, one reference and motivation.

Language of the application

All information in the application must be in English or Danish, preferably English. A certified English translation is required for documents written in languages other than English or one of the Scandinavian languages (i.e. Norwegian, Swedish or Danish).


Attachments must be pdf-files, max. 20 MB, no zip. If you wish to upload more than one document under each section, you must scan/merge all documents into one large PDF document and upload this as a single file. GSNS reserves the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and similar. You may consider indicating a URL where the information is available. 

You will be asked to enter information regarding

Personal information

Please provide proof of name changes if all documents does not bear the same name. 

Curriculum Vitae

An updated curriculum vitae (CV) with your education, experience and accomplishments.

Academic background

Diplomas and transcripts for all relevant, credit-bearing qualification(s), such as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Please note, that even if you have started/finished your Master’s degree programme, the transcripts and diploma of your Bachelor’s degree must still be included in the application. If the original documents are not in English or one of the Scandinavian languages (i.e. Norwegian, Swedish or Danish) then copies of the original documents as well as a certified English translation must be attached.

Verification of educational diploma and transcripts
Please note that GSNS reserves the right to verify the authenticity of your educational diploma and transcripts. This means that GSNS can request additional information to verify an application, and reject the application if it is proven, or if the University has reasonable grounds to believe, that the information provided is false or if the applicant refuses to provide the requested information, irrespective of whether an offer has already been made.

Grade point average

The weighted and unweighted grade point average of your academic degrees. The grade point average of your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees must be stated separately, clearly indicating whether the average is weighted or unweighted. The weighted grade point average must be calculated based on your transcripts' credit system and not converted into Danish ECTS - tools for the weighted calculation are available here: for ECTS, for Other credits (up to 35 courses) and for Other credits (up to 75 courses). Please upload the calculation as a PDF file under ‘Other information to consider’.

If available, GSNS encourages you to also upload documentation of your ranking, i.e. in which pct. you have been ranked in the graduation class of your study programme. 


 Information on desired starting date, credit transfer, etc.    

Language skills

Please see the “Language skills” section below    


Indicate sources and amounts of possible financial support, if any. Also, please see the "Financing and prospective supervisors" section above.

Plan of study

Use the drop-down menu to choose the general call or a specific call. If you apply via the general call, please enter the title of your general call project.

Project description for general calls (½-4 pages)

Describe your ideas and research plans for your project. You can indicate a URL to further information. GSNS strongly recommends that you discuss a potential project with a prospective supervisor at Aarhus University before applying. If, however, you write the project description on your own, the PhD committee will use it to find a potential supervisor for you or to match you with another research project close to your interests.

References (min. one)

Optionally, you can use this template to send to your referee(s). Previously obtained letters of reference can also be uploaded as PDFs. Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that all relevant references are received at GSNS. You can either upload the reference (as PDF) yourself or ask the referee to send it as PDF directly to GSNS via e-mail to gradschool.nat@au.dk. If you choose the latter, please upload a PDF document saying that you have done so. Please note that GSNS will not contact referees to remind them to submit a reference. GSNS will upload the reference to the application so it will not be visible to the applicant.

Motivation (max. one page)

Explain your reasons for applying.    


How you found out about the call.    

Language skills

Excellent communication skills in English are considered essential, and the applicant must be able to read, write, and speak academic English fluently. English language requirement is comparable to a minimum of TOEFL 83 or IELTS 6.5 (which is comparable to a an “English B level” in the Danish upper secondary school (“gymnasium”).

The PhD administration may ask applicants to document their proficiency in English at any time during the recruitment process if this is considered necessary.

How to apply

Filling in an online application

Please note: Before you start the application you must have all relevant appendices, attachments, addresses for referees, etc. ready, since the entire application must be uploaded in one go. A partially completed application cannot be saved and completed later. However, the application will stay open for filling out for as long as the browser window is open.

Have all your application attachments ready

The "Information and attachments needed for the application" section above contains important information about the various application elements. Please read this information carefully before you start your application.

Please note that you cannot submit the application if one or several of these documents have not been uploaded.

If you wish to upload more than one document under each section, please scan/merge all documents into one large PDF document and upload this as a single file. Please note that we reserve the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and similar. Instead you can indicate a URL where the information is available.

Go to the application page

When you have all your attachments and information ready, go to the application page and find the application form by clicking on the current open call and the programme/field in which you wish to apply, e.g. “November 2021” and “Biology”.

Fill in information and upload your attachments

Attachments must be PDF documents, max. 20 MB, no zip. All information in the application must be in Danish or English. Some of the information fields in the application have a little number outside of them to the right. By clicking on the number, you can find further directions on how to fill in the information field/what information is needed.

After submission

After submission of the application, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with an application ID you should use for reference, if needed.

Please note: The programme committee may request further information or invite you to attend an interview.

After you have applied

Assessment procedure

All incoming applications are considered collectively by the GSNS admissions committee, which draws on the recommendations supplied by the programme committees at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. The Head of the Graduate School admits new PhD students based on the recommendations of the admissions committee.

Click this link for more information of the Members of the admissions committee at Faculty of Natural Sciences.

You can read more about the assessment criteria in the section above.

Informing applicants about the decision

After all applications have been evaluated, you will receive an e-mail from the GSNS with either an offer of admission or a rejection. If you approve the admission offered, you will be contacted by the GSNS in regards to the actual start date, study and residence permit if needed (international students), etc.

If you have a Danish CPR number, documents relating to your admission to the GSNS will be delivered to your e-Boks. You are required to be able to receive digital mail from public agencies, and are responsible for checking your e-Boks.
If you do not have a Danish CPR number, you will receive these documents by e-mail or by letter mail, depending on your geographical location.

Under the “Application deadlines and start dates” section above, there is a timetable for the application process including when you can expect to receive the response from the GSNS.    

After enrolment


On admission, the head of PhD school appoints the supervisor(s) for each PhD student based on the recommendations of the programme committee:

  • One main supervisor, who is a permanent member of the scientific staff at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the level of at least Associate Professor or Senior Researcher. The main supervisor has overall responsibility for the PhD student’s project and PhD studies.

  • Optional co-supervisors who are employed either within or outside the university and qualified within the field in question.

Any later changes of main supervisor and/or co-supervisor(s) must be approved by the GSNS (see section 5.3 in GSNS Rules and Regulations).

The GSNS recommends that you talk to your supervisor(s) about matching expectations.

Practical info for internationals

Do I need a work and residence permit and if yes, how can I get it? What about tax registration? Where should I live? As an international student starting your PhD studies in Denmark, you may have questions like these concerning practical matters. Therefore, the GSNS has gathered info for international students to help you get on top of the practicalities.

Initiating the PhD project

Congratulations on your enrolment as a PhD student at the GSNS! Our "Initiating the project" page contains info, guidelines and tools on starting up your project and the formalities in this regard.


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