PhD degree structure

General Requirements

In Denmark, and hence also at the Graduate School of Science and Technology, the total time of university studies for a PhD degree is 8 years (480 ECTS) following the Bologna Framework. 

The Graduate School of Science and Technology provides a research education, which first and foremost consists of research under supervision. However, it is also required that the PhD programme includes courses, international mobility, and experience in communication. Please read more about the requirements below:

A PhD plan contains

  • A specific scientific plan
  • A course programme (during the first part of your PhD education you will usually have to follow courses corresponding to at least 30 ECTS)
  • Mobility plans (The Graduate School strongly encourages a longer stay with other active research institutions)
  • Communication experiences (teaching science in general, publishing and presenting own scientific work)

Programmes, departments and centers

  • 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.
  • Within the first month of the PhD studies the PhD student must write an individual PhD plan in cooperation with the supervisor(s). The plan is a mutually binding contract between the PhD student and the Graduate School, and ensures that the necessary resources are available in order to carry through the education. It is sent through the department/center/programme of the PhD student to the Graduate School. The PhD plan creates the basis for bi-annual evaluations, which are made in cooperation with the supervisor of the PhD student.
  • It is the main supervisor's responsibility that the PhD education is planned in accordance with current rules and requirements for study programmes. As a part of the above mentioned evaluations the supervisor and the head of the Graduate School will evaluate if the study progress is satisfactory, and if not, the studies may be terminated.


Enrolment as a PhD student – two ways about it

According to The Ministerial Order on the PhD Degree Programme (the PhD Order), you can be enrolled as a PhD student in two different ways:

The traditional 5+3 model - based on your Master’s degree

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:

Figure 1: 5+3 model

As figure 1 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 are going to hand in your PhD thesis. Approx. half-way through your PhD study (18 months of enrolment), you will have to write a progress report and pass a qualifying exam based on the report. 

The flexible 3+5 model - based on your Bachelor’s degree and with credits, if any

In the flexible model , 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:


Figure 2: 3+5 model


As figure 2 shows, you will be admitted on the basis of a Bachelor’s degree. You will be enrolled for five years before you are going to hand 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. An example of an alternative flexible model with 60 ECTS credits (one year of Master’s programme study) in addition to the Bachelor’s degree (4+4) is shown below.


Figure 3: 3+5 model with 60 credits (4+4)


In this case you will be admitted to the PhD study based on your Bachelor’s degree and one year of Master study. You will be enrolled for four years before you are going to hand in your PhD thesis. During the first two 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 two 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.

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.