Denmark PhD Scholarship: Your Guide to Funding Opportunities in Denmark

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on PhD scholarship opportunities available in Denmark for international students. We will explore the different types of scholarships, eligibility criteria, application processes, and other key details you need to know to pursue fully-funded PhD studies in Denmark.

Denmark is an excellent location to pursue doctoral research with a supportive academic environment and world-class universities. Moreover, obtaining a Denmark PhD scholarship allows you to focus solely on your research without worrying about tuition fees or living expenses. 

Overview of the Danish Higher Education System

Denmark has eight universities that offer PhD programs across diverse fields. The largest and most renowned universities are:

  • University of Copenhagen (KU): Founded in 1479, KU is Denmark’s oldest and largest university with over 41,000 students. It has a strong focus on social sciences, law, theology and health.
  • Aarhus University: Established in 1928, it is the second largest university in Denmark with over 41,000 students. Key research areas include science, engineering and arts.
  • Technical University of Denmark (DTU): Focused on engineering, natural science, medicine and technology. DTU has an excellent reputation in fields like nanotechnology, biotechnology and sustainable energy.
  • University of Southern Denmark (SDU): A multidisciplinary university with three campuses located in Odense, Slagelse and Kolding. Popular subjects include business, fisheries, maritime sciences and health science.

PhD programs in Denmark usually last 3 years. The primary language of instruction is English. PhD positions are considered employment, so international students can become residents and eventually apply for permanent residency.

Let’s move on to explore the major scholarship programs available to prospective international PhD students in Denmark.

Danish Government Scholarship (PhD stipend)

This is the prime scholarship offered by the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science to attract talented PhD candidates from abroad. Here are the key details:

  • Annual stipend amount: 138,824 DKK (around $21,000) tax-free. This amount is one of the highest for government scholarships globally and enough to live comfortably in Denmark.
  • Tuition fee waiver: Scholarships include full coverage of university tuition fees, which can otherwise be upwards of $10,000 per year.
  • Additional allowance: 17,000 DKK (around $2,600) annual research support for three years.
  • Dependants allowance: Around 6,000-9,000 DKK per month if accompanied by spouse/children.
  • Eligibility: Top universities shortlist candidates based on research proposal. Applicants must have a relevant Master’s degree and acceptance from a Danish university.
  • Application deadline: Generally 1-2 intakes per year with deadlines usually in March and October. Early applications are recommended.
  • Success rate: Around 15-20% as it is highly competitive. Strong candidates with an excellent research proposal stand the best chance.

This comprehensive scholarship basically covers all living and study expenses, letting recipients focus fully on doctoral research. It is undoubtedly the most prestigious funding opportunity in Denmark.

Individual University Scholarships

While not as generous as the Danish Government Scholarship, individual universities also offer funding through:

  • Rector’s PhD Scholarships: Top universities award selective scholarships directly funded by the university itself. Criteria and amounts vary but can be around 10,000-15,000 DKK monthly.
  • Department Scholarships: Some departments have independent funding from research projects and may offer positions to suitable candidates outside the government scheme.
  • International Marketing Scholarships: A few universities provide targeted scholarships for certain nationalities as part of internationalization strategies. Examples include DTU INDIA PhD Fellowship.

University scholarships are usually not as well advertised but pursuing them alongside the main scheme application can boost chances. It is best to check individual university websites or contact potential supervisors.

EU-Funded Scholarships

European Commission programs like Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) are another major source of PhD funding in Denmark. Key programs offered under MSCA include:

  • Innovative Training Networks (ITN): Joint PhDs within an international industrial consortium. Tuition, living allowance and mobility grants provided.
  • Individual Fellowships (IF): Funding for individual international PhD mobility either to or from Denmark. Living allowance of around 4,000 EUR/month.
  • Co-funding of Regional, National and International Programmes (COFUND): Co-finances national/regional PhD programs to strengthen collaboration.

Eligibility and deadlines vary for each call. ITN and IF have strict criteria focusing on research excellence and impact. COFUND schemes have quotas for the Danish universities involved. Application can take significant preparation so starting early is advised.

This covers the primary publicly-funded scholarship avenues. Let’s now look at some alternative private options.

Scholarships from Foundations and Research Councils

While more limited in number, several Danish foundations and research councils also provide independent PhD funding through competitive annual calls:

  • Villum Fonden Young Investigator Programme: Awards up to 4 million DKK for 4-5 years to Danish or international candidates.
  • Carlsberg Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships: In natural sciences, annual stipend of ~210,000 DKK. Accommodation support also offered.
  • Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFG): Funding postgraduate students through its International Postdoc Programme.
  • Novo Nordisk Foundation: Largest private foundation in Denmark supporting biomedicine research through fellowships and project grants.

Application criteria vary but emphasis is usually given to research excellence and potential impact. Foundations offer prestigious recognition beyond financial assistance. However, success rates are even lower than government schemes.

This covers the wide spectrum of funding opportunities for PhD scholarships in Denmark. Let’s move to the application process in the next section.

The PhD Application Process

Applying for a Denmark PhD scholarship generally follows these main steps:

  1. Research potential supervisors: Contact professors working in your field of interest to discuss collaboration possibilities before applying. This is a crucial first step.
  2. Select a university and program: Decide where you want to pursue research after thoroughly understanding university/department strengths and available programs.
  3. Prepare research proposal: Outline research questions, impact, methodology and 3-year plan in detail (8-12 pages typically). Get feedback from potential supervisors.
  4. Check eligibility and deadlines: Make sure you fulfill criteria like educational background, language skills etc. Mark key dates in your calendar.
  5. Assemble application dossier: This includes CV, transcripts, reference letters, research proposal and any other requirements specified.
  6. Submit application: Most can be completed online. Check for all necessary documentation is complete and submit well before deadlines.
  7. Interview (optional): Shortlisted candidates may be interviewed online/in-person by an admission committee assessing qualifications and research fit.
  8. Notification of results: Expect 2-3 months for evaluation. Outcome letters are sent to both successful and rejected candidates.
  9. Visa application (if needed): A residence and work permit is required to take up a PhD position in Denmark as a non-EU student.
  10. Relocation to Denmark: Once all paperwork and funding is finalized, you can move to Denmark to begin your doctoral studies!

Thorough preparation and starting early is recommended due to the competitive nature. Reach out if any part of the process needs clarification.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section addresses some frequently asked questions about Denmark PhD scholarships:

1. What are the normal admission requirements?

Key criteria are a relevant Master’s degree with excellent grades (usually a GPA of 7.0/12.0 or above), strong English skills, and a compelling research proposal aligned with university strengths. Relevant work experience or publications can boost your profile.

2. Can I apply if I am still completing my Master’s?

For most scholarships, you must have completed your Master’s degree before the application deadline. However, some university programs may consider applicants who will graduate before the PhD program start date. Confirm requirements with intended departments.

3. Is funding guaranteed for the full 3 years?

The standard duration of a Danish PhD program is 3 years, and most external funding covers this period. However, scholarships may be discontinued if satisfactory progress and annual reporting is not maintained. Universities may provide bridge funding if a candidate requires some additional months to complete.

4. Are there any language requirements?

While courses may be taught in English, basic Danish language skills are highly recommended but not essential. This will help your integration and participation in department/university social life. Consider enrolling in a free Danish language course once in Denmark.

5. What are the living costs in Denmark and rental prices?

With the scholarship stipend, living expenses are easily covered. Expect to pay 3,000-6,000 DKK monthly for rental in university towns like Copenhagen or Aarhus. Groceries, transportation, utilities may cost around 5,000-8,000 DKK per month for a single person depending on lifestyle.

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