PhD degree structure

The PhD programme prepares you for work with research, development and education in jobs that require a particularly high level of academic qualifications. At the Graduate School of Health the aim of the PhD programme is to give the students broad knowledge of the scientific theories, methodologies and tools required for health science research, and to develop their understanding and ability to independently deal with scientific issues. Cross-disciplinary graduate programmes help to ensure that all PhD students at the Graduate School are part of a relevant and challenging environment.


The content of the PhD programme is determined by the PhD Executive Order which states that the estimated duration of the PhD degree programme is three years of full-time study (180 ECTS credits) and that it should comprise the following components:

  • Completion of an independent research project under supervision (the PhD project)
  • Completion of PhD courses corresponding to 30 ECTS credits
  • Participation in active research environments, including visits to other, mainly foreign, research institutions
  • Teaching experience or a similar kind of knowledge communication
  • Preparation of a PhD dissertation based on the PhD project

The PhD degree is acquired after satisfactory completion of a PhD programme and a successful public defense of the dissertation.

What you can expect

As a PhD student at the Graduate School of Health you can expect interesting times in an academic environment that is regarded as one of the best in the world. During your programme you must complete the following components:

  • A health science research project under supervision
  • Participation in one or more journal clubs
  • Participation in PhD courses (30 ECTS credits)
  • Participation in the annual PhD day
  • Teaching experience (150 hours)
  • A stay in another research environment, preferably abroad (duration at least one month)
  • A PhD dissertation at an international level

In addition, you are expected to participate in conferences and summer schools, and we would also like you to be an active participant within your graduate programme and your immediate research environment.

You must record all activities in PhD Planner. for login and information, Please read here.

Academic regulations

The ordinary three-year PhD programme is the most popular PhD programme in terms of enrolment. It constitutes the framework for the Industrial PhD programme and the Graduate School’s integrated MD/PhD programme, and makes it possible to commence a PhD degree while completing a Master’s degree. In addition we offer PhD programmes incorporating leave periods and/or periods of part-time study, which makes it possible to combine a PhD study programme with clinical work or a specialist training position, as mutual approval applies to certain specialist courses and PhD courses.

PhD degree programmes

At the Graduate School of Health we offer the ordinary PhD programme (based on a Master’s degree), integrated PhD programmes (based on a Bachelor’s degree) and the business-oriented industrial PhD programme.

Ordinary PhD study programme

To apply for a 3-year PhD study programme you must have completed a relevant Master’s degree. The Master’s study has to be equivalent to a Danish Master’s degree of 120 ECTS – if you have any doubt you can submit your diplomas for an assessment via

Integrated PhD study programme

At the Graduate School of Health you can commence a PhD study while studying for your Master’s degree. It is required that you have completed your Bachelor’s degree and have been accepted for/begun a Master’s degree, before enrolment as an integrated PhD student. Also you need to have at least one semester left of you Master’s degree at the time of enrolment as an integrated PhD student.

An integrated PhD will always postpone the completion of your Master’s degree with one year=12 months.

As an integrated PhD student your study will consist of two parts; part A and part B. Part A is the part of the PhD study which includes 1 year(12 months) of PhD study as well as the remaining part of your Master’s study. Part A is completed when you obtain your Master’s degree and part B will begin immediately thereafter (1st of the month following the last exam of the Master’s degree).

Part B consists of 2 years of full time PhD study. If any credit transfer has been granted, it will be deducted from part B. It is possible to do Part B as a part time study or to combine it with periods of leave, e.g. to do clinical basic education (‘KBU’).

Integrated PhD studies can be financed by means of a faculty fellowship and/or external financing, such as a grant from a research council or private foundation, or by employment at a hospital.

  • Part A is generally financed by means of an SU PhD fellowship of up to 48 SU PhD grant units. An SU PhD fellowship can be externally financed, but can only be paid out through Aarhus University. The SU PhD fellowship expires upon completion of the Master’s degree, and a faculty fellowship for part B, if applicable, is not extended correspondingly. It is therefore required that you complete the last course of your Master’s degree during the final months of part A.
  • Part B, which requires that you have completed a Master’s degree and submitted documentation for successful completion of the examinations to the faculty, is financed by external means or a faculty fellowship. Salary and employment are in accordance with the relevant collective agreement. 

Part A

Master’s degree

Part B

12 months of PhD Study + remaining Master’s degree study (at least one semester).


2 years

Or less if credit transfer is granted, e.g. 6 months for a completed Research Year

Starting on the 1st of the month after graduating from the master programme



Double degree

PhD students enrolled at a university abroad can obtain a supplementary PhD degree from Health – a so called PhD double degree. The option is worth considering if the PhD project already requires the PhD student to spend time in Aarhus collaborating with Health researchers.

The double degree is awarded in addition to the degree from the university where the PhD student is enrolled (home university). The thesis is handed in at the home university and is assessed by a committee approved by both the home university and Health.

Certain conditions must be met before a double degree can be awarded. They are described in the Guidelines for PhD double degrees. Some central conditions are:

  • The PhD student must be enrolled at a university abroad with which Health collaborates
  • The PhD student must have a co-supervisor at Health
  • The PhD student must have completed a study visit of relevance to the PhD project and of no less than six months at Health
  • A member of scientific staff at Health must be part of the thesis assessment committee and present at the public defence

Furthermore, an Agreement on a PhD double degree must be signed by all parties and approved by the Head of Graduate School at Health. The agreement sets down the conditions concerning the study visit, the PhD programme, supervisor roles, financial matters, awarding of PhD degree etc.

The Graduate School at Health do no charge study fees in connection with the awarding of a PhD double degree. It is expected that the PhD student holds a salaried position or similar at the home university. Supplementary grants in relation to travel and living expenses can, if applicable, be arranged with the co-supervisor.

PhD students enrolled at Health who wishes to obtain a PhD double degree from a university abroad, should observe the rules and guidelines at the university in question.