Studying a PhD or postdoctoral degree in Europe

Publication date: 05/11/2021

Learn more about what you need to apply for PhD and postdoctoral studies, how to find positions and receive funding.

Student taking a book from a library shelf

Europe offers considerable opportunities for existing and young researchers from around the world to study a PhD, a post-doctorate degree and to work as a researcher.

Some points to keep in mind when applying for PhD and postdoctoral studies in Europe

  • You should have a Master’s or equivalent degree to apply. In some cases, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient.
  • Make sure you have a unique research proposal or know how your work can contribute to existing research in a field. 
  • Generally, it takes a minimum of 4 years to complete a PhD in Europe, although there are 3- and 5-year programmes available, as well as part-time options. 
  • Fees are typically low or non-existing and good grant possibilities are often offered by host countries, the European Union (EU) and other organisations. You may also be able to gain employment as a researcher during your doctoral studies.
  • The diversity of opportunities is matched by a system of qualification recognition and credit transfer, meaning that your degree will be internationally recognised and accepted by all countries with an ENIC-NARIC network
  • After a PhD, you can pursue postdoctoral work. These positons are somewhat more difficult to obtain and in many cases the researcher will have to provide the funding for his or her research.

Find a position or funding

EURAXESS is a European Commission portal providing information on research positions and funding to help researchers come to Europe to work, work in another European country or beyond.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions 

Who can apply?

Funding is open to PhD students of all disciplines and nationalities, for up to four years.

How to apply?

To be considered for MSCA funding you can either

  • apply as an organisation: submit a proposal to an open funding call on behalf of your organisation or a consortium
  • apply as an individual to Postdoctoral Fellowships: develop and submit a proposal to an open funding call jointly with your host organisation
  • apply to PhD and postdoctoral vacancies funded by MSCA projects

Find out more about eligibility for each MSCA application path and check the specific conditions to apply.

Header image: © iStock/demaerre, 2018.