Studying for a PhD in Denmark

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Studying for a PhD in Denmark

In Denmark, PhD students are treated—and paid—like junior university faculty members. Nine major Danish universities offer PhDs in fields ranging from fine arts to theology. Although many are taught in English, some are in the Danish language, and applicants will need to provide proof of proficiency for entry.


Denmark may be a small country, but with heavy reliance on high-tech and science-based industries, it ranks in the world’s top six for research and development spending. Much of this is concentrated in universities. PhD opportunities will almost always be advertised by the university alongside other staff vacancies, so start with the Resources list below to explore possibilities. It is also possible to approach faculty members directly about upcoming possibilities: for example, if a staff member has just landed a research grant in your chosen field or is in the process of applying, there could be an opportunity in it for you.

To find faculty contacts, university websites are useful but may be partly in Danish. International subject associations, such as the Association of Applied Biologists or the European Association for Digital Humanities, provide conferences, publications and online discussion lists that can help.


Would-be students should apply directly to the advertised programme. As well as advertised PhD posts, there are also joint programmes run by major Danish companies, such as Maersk or SAS, and universities—for these fellowships, the Ministry of Education and Science’s Innovation Funds programme is your key contact (see Resources, below). Importantly, these prestigious fellowships give you a chance to do cutting-edge research in a real-world setting and include a generous travel allowance.


Once admitted, you will agree on a formal PhD plan to carry out over a period of three years. PhD researchers are expected to carry out research independently and/or with a team, meeting the terms of their agreement. They also attend formal research methods courses, and most do at least some teaching. Completion is by submission of a thesis. There are ample opportunities to move between Danish university- or industry-based research units or to undertake part of your study in another country.

Student life

EU/EEA citizens have no restrictions in studying in Denmark but need to register with a regional government office. Non-EU citizens need a biometric residence permit, which requires proving that you have been admitted to a PhD programme and showing proof of adequate funding. Your university can help you with the paperwork.

Once you’re in Denmark, student life does have its charms. Both universities and workplaces are big on sport and other activity clubs, so whether you are doing an industry-based or university-based study programme, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The country has an amazing natural landscape for winter, summer and water sports, and cities like Copenhagen and Aarhus also have plenty to offer in terms of student-friendly cafes, museums and clubbing. That said, some Danish universities are based in smaller towns with a slower pace, which of course can help you focus on studying.


This site provides basic details on PhD studies and links to universities.

The Ministry manages the Industrial PhD programme and some other postgraduate funding opportunities via its Innovation Fund.

This is a research students’ group that offers advice and support, aiming to ensure that students’ research conditions are positive and well-paid.

This site regularly reports on research projects in Denmark, and is a great resource for prospective students seeking information on research projects and potential supervisors.

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