Planning To Do A PhD In Europe?

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Here’s what you need to research

There may have never been a better time to study for a doctorate in Europe. Many European universities are expanding, and opening up to a world beyond national borders. There can be significant cost savings as well. If you are a world-class student, there is likely to be a world-class opportunity for you.

Portability and quality.

Research-based doctorates are usually seen as equivalent the world over, but some kinds of professional doctorates, such as medical degrees, can come with licensing issues. Before you apply, make sure the programme will give you equivalent professional status in your country of origin. 

Of course, you must ensure that you have chosen an accredited university. Unfortunately, some overseas students have been caught out by fraudulent firms posing as PhD providers. All European countries have national accreditation schemes for universities, including private education institutions.

You should also ensure that the programme you choose compares well internationally in your field.

Degree check.

In most European countries, you must have the suitability of your foreign bachelors and masters degrees checked by a national organisation before you can apply for a PhD programme. You may need to submit a record of your module marks and information about course structure as well as your degree certificates. A small fee will be charged, and you should allow plenty of time for this process.

Language matters.

You’ll also need to look at language issues. Some PhD programmes are taught in English, and for research-based PhDs language is not always an issue, as long as your supervisor agrees. For others, you may need to take a specific language exam. 

If English is your second language, you may also need to take an exam to establish your level of fluency—which exam and which level will depend on the university and the course. Each country has a language exam framework and will only accept certain qualifications as equivalent: the IELTS is the most commonly used, but you will need to check.

Another possibility is taking a pre-sessional language course followed by an exam. This can usually be arranged directly with the university if you have been accepted as a provisional student.

Visa issues. 

EU students can study anywhere within the EU region without a student visa, but for non-EU applicants this can be a lengthy process. Part of the visa process may include proving that you already have enough money to support yourself (and partner/children if they will come with you) before arriving.

Funded students may receive help from the university in making visa arrangements as part of their package, but self-funding students should begin working as early as possible to ensure everything is in place. The university will, of course, provide you with proof that you have been accepted onto the course, but there will be additional paperwork to prepare and submit.

Be sure that you understand the terms of your visa: Some European countries allow students to work during their studies (usually a limited number of hours), and some allow new graduates to work. Others expect you to leave immediately after completing your degree.

PhD Section

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