PHD Funding Opportunities In Sweden For Non-EU Students

PHD Funding Opportunities In Sweden For Non-EU Students

Curious about securing a scholarship for your doctoral studies in Sweden? Explore our comprehensive compilation of scholarship options available for universities in Sweden, encompassing premier national and international scholarships, fellowships, grants from colleges and universities, tuition waivers, government funding, and various forms of financial assistance for students.

You have the opportunity to seek scholarships at Swedish universities, covering various stages of education from high school seniors to postgraduate studies. Our comprehensive scholarship database offers financial assistance for college students, graduate programs, and beyond.

Earning a PhD in Sweden offers the chance to pursue studies in a nation blending a rich educational legacy with a spirit of innovation and creativity. With university roots tracing back to the fifteenth century, Sweden has cultivated a fertile ground for academic pursuits.

Moreover, its influential contributions to contemporary society through renowned brands like Spotify, IKEA, and inventions like Bluetooth underscore Sweden’s ongoing impact on the global stage.

Explore a range of scholarships tailored to different academic fields such as business, engineering, law, or medicine. Additionally, discover opportunities for funding in sports, arts, and music to support your studies overseas.

Opportunities For PHD Studies In Sweden

If the aim of your doctoral pursuit is to generate unique and possibly groundbreaking contributions (which it should be), then pursuing a PhD in Sweden could be the perfect option. Much like its neighboring Scandinavian nations, Sweden boasts a culture of high tolerance, characterized by progressive laws that champion LGBT rights and warmly embrace international students and visitors.

Here are some compelling reasons to consider pursuing a PhD in Sweden as an international student:

Emphasis on Creativity and Originality:

While you might not stumble upon the next revolutionary music streaming platform or fully decipher those intricate IKEA instructions, your doctoral research will find a welcoming environment in Sweden, a nation that values independent thinking and fosters innovative ideas.

Prestigious Research Opportunities:

Sweden’s rich legacy as the birthplace of the Nobel Prize, boasting 34 laureates, underscores its longstanding commitment to recognizing and honoring outstanding research, excellence, and ingenuity.

Absence of PhD Tuition Fees:

Typically, Swedish PhD programs do not impose tuition fees on their students, irrespective of their nationality, making it a financially attractive option for aspiring scholars.

Esteemed and Time-Honored Universities:

With a higher education tradition dating back to the 1400s, Sweden’s universities command respect and recognition globally. They consistently rank well in contemporary assessments, particularly excelling in fields such as Medicine, Life Sciences, and related disciplines.

Swedish Universities:

Sweden has 39 state-funded universities and similar institutions, in addition to a smaller number of privately funded higher education institutions.

The education system follows a three-cycle structure, aligning with the broader European Higher Education Area. Pursuing a PhD in Sweden constitutes the third cycle of education, typically following completion of Bachelor’s (first cycle) and Master’s (second cycle) studies.

Higher education providers in Sweden are categorized into two main types:

Universities, which are large establishments offering degrees across a wide array of disciplines. These institutions conduct original research alongside academic instruction and possess the resources to support and mentor PhD candidates.

University colleges, which specialize in technical and professional training, often focusing on applied sciences and related fields. While less inclined to offer PhD programs, they may do so in specific subject areas.

The differentiation between these two groups may not always be readily apparent, as institutions labeled as university colleges might identify themselves simply as universities. However, there’s no need for excessive concern.

As a doctoral student, you’ll probably find yourself enrolled at a university, but it’s worth noting that the fewer doctoral programs available at university colleges are just as demanding and esteemed.

PHD Program Framework:

In Sweden, obtaining a PhD signifies the pinnacle of academic accomplishment. Similar to other nations, the primary focus lies on conducting independent research aimed at producing an original thesis that contributes novel insights to the field of study.

In Sweden, completing a standard PhD program typically entails a commitment of four years of full-time study, equivalent to 240 ECTS credits, culminating in the awarding of a doctoral degree and the esteemed title of ‘doctor.’

Alternatively, individuals may opt for a shorter licentiate degree, requiring two years of full-time study toward a more concise thesis, equivalent to 120 ECTS credits.

The Swedish licentiate degree is akin to the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) offered in the UK and other nations. Some students initially pursue this qualification before advancing to full PhD candidacy.

The academic calendar in Sweden spans from August to June, divided into two teaching terms: August to January and January to June, with summer and winter breaks in between.

While PhD students typically have a more flexible schedule throughout the year, they may engage in additional courses and activities tied to specific teaching periods.

Structure Of The Program:

During your PhD in Sweden, your primary focus will revolve around conducting original research essential for your thesis. Typically, you’ll commence by evaluating existing scholarship in your field through a literature review, followed by the gathering of sources or experimental data, culminating in the composition of your conclusions and findings.

Certain universities may supplement your research with structured training opportunities. These may include participation in short courses covering research methodologies and other pertinent skills relevant to your project.

Additionally, it is customary for PhD students at Swedish universities to undertake roles as junior academic staff within their departments or faculties as part of their funding agreements. In such cases, you may also be assigned additional responsibilities such as teaching or assisting with demonstrations.

Evaluation And Tests

The evaluation process for obtaining a Swedish PhD hinges on the quality of your doctoral thesis, which you present upon concluding your research. Your thesis must showcase originality, substantial contribution to your field, and your personal involvement in its design and execution

This assessment culminates in a final public defense of your thesis, akin to the viva voce used in the UK and elsewhere, albeit with some procedural differences. Instead of a private examination, you present your thesis to an examining committee in front of an audience, which may include academics, fellow PhD candidates, and loved ones.

Among the committee members is an external expert, serving as your ‘opponent’, tasked with questioning your thesis and challenging your findings and conclusions. Other committee members and audience members may also pose questions.

Ultimately, the committee determines whether you have successfully defended your thesis and can be conferred the PhD degree. While the live examination process may seem daunting, it serves as a fitting culmination of your research journey, allowing you to demonstrate your expertise and validate your qualification. Moreover, failure at this stage is uncommon.

PHD Funding:

Tuition fees and application fees are not applicable for PhD programs at state-funded universities in Sweden, though this exemption does not extend to Master’s or Bachelor’s degrees. Doctoral studies are free for EU, EEA, and international (non-EU) students. Additionally, there are no application fees for PhD programs in Sweden. While you will be responsible for covering your accommodation and living expenses, your university may offer support to assist with these costs.

Grant Opportunities:

PhD students in Sweden are typically considered as staff members and may have an employment contract with their university. This contract entitles them to a monthly salary referred to as a study grant, which amounts to around €1,500 per month (though subject to taxation).

During the course of your PhD, your employment status may change. In the initial two years, you’ll receive the study grant without access to benefits or social security. In the latter two years, you’ll usually transition to a full employment contract, gaining entitlements such as support during illness or parental leave. Your university will provide further details.

In exchange for the study grant, you’ll likely have responsibilities within your department, such as teaching undergraduates or assisting with administrative tasks.

Scholarship Opportunities

Additional financial aid options for doctoral studies in Sweden could potentially supplement or replace study grants. The primary source of funding for international PhD students is the Swedish Institute (SI), which provides scholarships tailored to students from various regions such as Turkey, the Balkans, and the Baltic countries.

Detailed information can be found on the Study in Sweden website. Additionally, universities in Sweden and relevant academic organizations or research charities may offer alternative funding opportunities depending on your field of study.

Admission criteria:

Swedish universities have autonomy in determining their admission standards for PhD programs. Typically, a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is the minimum requirement, although having a Master’s degree is often preferred, especially if seeking financial support.

Equally crucial to your academic background is your capacity to exhibit prior research experience. This might involve your dissertation projects from your previous degrees, underscoring your readiness for the independent research expected in a PhD program.

The overall eligibility requirements for PhD applications in Sweden closely resemble those of other EU countries.

Language prerequisites

A significant portion of instruction at Swedish higher education institutions is conducted in English. Consequently, proficiency in Swedish may not be mandatory for studying abroad in Sweden. However, it’s advisable to verify the language requirements with the specific university or department you intend to enroll in.

Even if fluency in English isn’t obligatory, acquiring some language skills can facilitate your integration and enhance your academic experience.

Non-native English speakers might be required to provide a recognized proficiency test score, although exceptions could apply if they have completed a prior university degree taught in English.


Sweden is a diverse and welcoming nation, offering abundant prospects for skilled PhD graduates to utilize their abilities and knowledge. It’s possible that your contributions could contribute to the next significant Swedish breakthrough.


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