In Denmark, the total time of university studies for a PhD degree is eight years (480 ECTS) following the Bologna Framework.
The GSNS provides a research education primarily consisting of research under supervision. As a PhD student at GSNS, you are always admitted to a graduate school programme and affiliated to one of the departments.
All PhD students will be appointed a main supervisor and, if relevant, any co-supervisors, and it is required that the PhD programme includes courses, international mobility, and experience in communication.
You will be admitted based on your Bachelor’s degree, with credits if any, and will be enrolled as a PhD student for up to five years.
As the figure shows, you will be admitted on the basis of a Bachelor’s degree. You will be enrolled for five years beforehand in your PhD thesis. During the first three years of your PhD study, you will be enrolled as a Master’s student in parallel to your PhD study enrolment (i.e. a combined Master’s and PhD study). When you have been enrolled as a PhD student for three years, you will have to write a progress report and pass a qualifying exam based on the report. When you have passed the qualifying exam, you will also obtain your Master’s degree.
This model is called flexible because you can be admitted with any kind of credits from your Master’s degree programme.
In the flexible model, the qualifying exam will always be held two years before your enrolment end date, regardless of the number of credits you have been enrolled with.
|Part A||Part B|
|4th study year||5th+6th study year||7th+8th study year|
|Status||Combined Master's and PhD student |
|PhD student |
(enrolled and employed)
Corresponds to 1-2 monthly SU grants
(+ student teacher employment*)
PhD SU scholarship
Corresponds to 2 monthly SU grants
(+ student teacher employment*)
incl. pension and holiday pay
*Optional for PhD students on the 3+5 model (see below)
**Only for eligible students (see more below)
***PhD fellows are employed on the basis of academic trade union agreements, and the salary is regulated accordingly (depending on seniority). The salary amounts to approx. DKK 28,000 per month before tax, excluding pension and holiday. The working and fiscal status of a recipient of a PhD fellowship is that of a university employee.
PhD students admitted with less than 60 ECTS credits in addition to the Bachelor’s degree and financed via the GSNS can be awarded a special (privately funded) grant (Scholar grant) until they become eligible for a PhD SU scholarship.
For PhD students eligible for SU (in Danish short for Statens uddannelsesstøtte = the Danish Students’ Grants and Loan Scheme), the Scholar grant amounts to approx. DKK 6,000 per month (before tax). For international PhD students not eligible for SU, the Scholar grant amounts to approx. DKK 12,500 per month (before tax). The Scholar grant ceases when the PhD student starts receiving a PhD SU scholarship. The working and fiscal status of a recipient of a Scholar grant is that of a student.
PhD SU scholarships can be awarded to PhD students without a Master’s degree who are admitted on the basis of a Bachelor’s degree and have a minimum of 60 ECTS in addition to the Bachelor’s degree (four years of full-time study in total).
The PhD SU scholarship is typically paid out in instalments of DKK 12,500 per month (before tax). The PhD SU scholarship ceases at the end of the month in which the PhD student passes the qualifying examination (and thus obtains a Master’s degree). The working and fiscal status of a recipient of a PhD SU scholarship is that of a student.
In addition to the Scholar grant and the PhD SU scholarship, 3+5 PhD students are offered employment as student teachers to work as teaching assistants or to perform other kinds of academic work.
Please note that the work as student teacher is not a direct part of the PhD study, and is not required to obtain the PhD degree (although some experience with dissemination is required).
PhD students eligible for SU can receive SU in parallel with the scholarships. Contact the Danish Students’ Grants and Loans Scheme Office at Aarhus University for more information and an application for SU.
PhD fellows: PhD students employed on the basis of a Master’s degree.
PhD fellows are employed on the basis of academic trade union agreements, and the salary is regulated accordingly (depending on seniority). The salary amounts to approx. DKK 28,000 per month before tax, excluding pension and holiday. The working and fiscal status of a recipient of a PhD fellowship is that of a university employee.
Work obligations for PhD fellows
One-sixth of the PhD fellowship salary is given as compensation for an obligation to work 280 hours per year as a teaching assistant, or doing other academic work decided by the department and/or the GSNS. The PhD fellow can arrange with the department not to have work obligations (with a corresponding reduction in payment). Working as a teaching assistant is not required to obtain the PhD degree (although some experience with dissemination is required), and it counts as extra work on top of the PhD study.
All PhD fellows are granted one semester’s exemption from this work obligation without reduction in payment. Furthermore, PhD fellows may get exemption with no reduction in payment during extended stays abroad for up to six months in addition to the general one semester’s exemption. If the stay abroad lasts more than six months (or one year, if including the general one semester’s exemption), the PhD student must compensate by additional work before or after the stay.
Read more about employment in the Danish State Sector (in Danish only)