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Master's graduate

General Requirements

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. 

Degree structure

In the traditional model, you will be admitted based on your Master’s degree and will be enrolled as a PhD student for three years.

As the figure shows, you will be admitted on the basis of a Master’s degree (i.e. five years of full-time study). You will be enrolled for three years before you hand in your PhD thesis. Approx. half-way through your PhD studies (18 months of enrolment), you will have to write a progress report and pass a qualifying exam based on the report. 

Credit transfer

When you apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the GSNS, you have the option to apply for credit transfer if you have completed education components that are equivalent to (parts of) the content of a PhD programme.

As a minimum, you can apply for three months of credit (15 ECTS credits), and a maximum of six months of credit (30 ECTS credits). Under special circumstances additional credit may be granted. Credit transfer of less than three months can be approved, but the enrolment period will not be reduced.

Credit can be granted for documented independent research work under supervision, i.e. relevant research work related to the PhD project, which must be documented by articles, reports, abstracts or similar written work. The PhD project must still form the basis for a PhD thesis at international level.
Furthermore, credit can be granted for course activity at minimum the same level as GSNS PhD courses.

If you wish to apply for credit transfer, the completed activities for which you are applying for credit must clearly be stated in your PhD application. Your enrolment period will be reduced corresponding to the credit you have been granted.



Model 5+3: Income on Part A and B

Part A Part B
6th study year 7th study year 8th study year
Status PhD student
(enrolled and employed)

Monthly salary*

incl. pension and holiday pay

*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.

Employment and work obligations

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. The fellowship is granted for a period of up to three years (see table 1).

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)

Other types of financing and income

Outline for self-financed PhD or Industrial PhD

PhD students who bring their own financing, e.g. through funding from their home country, and PhD students who are employed in private companies (most often as part of the Industrial PhD programme) should only apply for enrolment.

Self-financed or Industrial PhD: Income on Part A and B

Part APart B
6th study year7th study year8th study year
StatusPhD student

Self-financed or company salary

(+ student teacher employment*)

*May be offered to some self-financed PhD students. Not an option for PhD students on company salary.

Industrial PhD programme

An Industrial PhD is an industrially focused research project and PhD education which is carried out in a collaboration between a company, an Industrial PhD student and a university.

An Industrial PhD student is employed in the company and enrolled at the university (in this case the Graduate School of Natural Sciences/GSNS at Aarhus University). The Industrial PhD student shares his/her working time equally between the company and the university, and spends all the working time on the Industrial PhD project.

What to gain from entering into an Industrial PhD project?

  • The project allows the Industrial PhD student to carry out a research project where results are applied in an enterprise setting.
  • The company gets an Industrial PhD student who is able to carry out a high quality research project and create results that can lead to commercial gain. At the same time, the company strengthens its relations to existing and new collaboration partners at the university.
  • The university strengthens its relations with the business sector, and a foundation for new research is created.

The application procedure
: The company applies for funding for the project from Innovation Fund Denmark, and the potential Industrial PhD student applies to the GSNS. The candidate must have conditional approval from the GSNS before the head of department signs a signature sheet for the company’s application to Innovation Fund Denmark, so please, consider the application deadlines closely.

the GSNS recommends that the company, the potential Industrial PhD student and the potential main supervisor at the university are all involved prior to submitting an application to ensure that all parties agree on the framework and content of the application – and thereby also the Industrial PhD project.

Extra info for the potential Industrial PhD student: the GSNS does not provide contact to specific companies. You are welcome to contact them yourself, or contact a potential university supervisor who might have some company contacts.

If you have any queries, you are welcome to contact PhD partner Rikke J. Ljungmann.

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