Two researchers in a Swedish laboratory. Photo: Jan-Olof Yxell/

PhD programmes

Launch your research career by doing a PhD in Sweden.

Research in Sweden is wide-ranging and well-respected internationally, making Sweden a strong choice for your PhD/doctoral studies.

The Swedish PhD

PhD programmes in Sweden are mainly research-based: most of your time, you will be performing research toward your final dissertation. This will usually take a minimum of four years of full-time work (or 240 ECTS credits).

Because they are research-based, Swedish PhD programmes are very different from study-based bachelor’s or master’s programmes. PhD positions are also usually paid positions: you’ll receive a monthly salary and won’t have to pay tuition fees. Even though you are technically a PhD ”student”, doing a PhD in Sweden is more like having a full-time job.

The main focus of Swedish PhD programmes is your dissertation (thesis). Your dissertation can take the form of a monograph, or a body of shorter pieces of scholarly work built up throughout your PhD period. All dissertations need to be publicly defended. Some departments may want your thesis to be part of an ongoing project within the department. In the fields of technology, natural science and medicine, you’ll often work as part of a team.

While Swedish universities don’t offer taught PhD programmes, theoretical studies and small seminars will be an important component of your PhD programme. You will also receive individual tutoring.

How to apply for a PhD position

In Sweden, a PhD position is usually advertised as a paid position by a Swedish university. (Funding may come from either the university itself or an external funding body). The university will be the one handling the admission process, so you apply directly to the university.

Universities list PhD positions on their websites, usually along with other academic job vacancies. Some departments have fixed application dates, others admit PhD students on an ongoing basis.

Check the links in the below list of “PhDs at Swedish universities” to find more information and browse available positions.

Departments will set their own specific admission requirements. But to be admitted to a PhD programme, you must generally:

  • Hold a university degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree or higher, focusing on the same subject as your intended field of study. In most cases, a master’s degree is required. Previous studies must have included a degree thesis presenting the results of independent research.
  • Have a good command of English. Swedish skills are also important for some subjects in which lectures and seminars are conducted in Swedish.

Useful links

1. PhDs at Swedish universities

2. General PhD vacancies

3. More information


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