Different routes to a PhD

The PhD programme trains students to carry out research, in part through work with their project and in part through participation in courses. These two elements are – together with a requirement of research communication – the core of the PhD programme. An approved thesis and a number of successfully completed courses are the formal conditions for awarding the PhD degree.

There are many different “routes” to a PhD. CBS offers four different ways of becoming a PhD student: as a research fellow, 4+4 PhD student, an independent student or, an industrial PhD fellow. Each of these options is described below:

Research Fellow
To become a research fellow, you must apply for an advertised scholarship . ‘Research fellow’ is an official job title with a salary determined by collective agreement, corresponding to other publicly employed professionals. The positions are advertised by CBS, funded either by CBS’ own research funds or external funding (or a combination thereof). All such positions are advertised at Jobs at CBS and usually also in other media. The majority of scholarships are advertised within specific fields, some within a relatively narrow research field.

As a research fellow, you are thus employed in a position at CBS, but you are also a student at CBS, since you are enrolled in the PhD programme. As an employee, you are provided with a workplace, and as a student, you are offered teaching and supervision. A scholarship usually includes an obligation to contribute to teaching at CBS. The employment period is three years, since the programme has a standard duration of three years.

4+4 PhD Student

The 4+4 scheme is a 4-year PhD programme. The PhD student is simultaneously enrolled in a Master programme and the PhD programme for the first two years. The last two years, the PhD student is enrolled solely as a PhD student.

To become a 4+4 PhD student, you must apply for an advertised PhD scholarship where the 4+4 scheme is stated as an option. The enrolment in the 4+4 scheme also dependes on the enrolment in a relevant master programme at CBS. CBS will assess in which master programme the enrolment can take place. If a suitable master programme cannot be found or admission as a master student cannot be obtained, enrolment in the 4+4 scheme is not possible.

At the time of enrolment, the applicant must have completed an academically relevant 3-year bachelor degree (180 ECTS points) and one year of a master degree (60 ECTS points). The minimum grade requirements are a weighted grade point average of at least 8.2 on the Danish 7-point grading scale for the entire programme (i.e. for the full bachelor and one year of the master studies together), and at least the grade 10 for the bachelor thesis or equivalent final examination project.

Corresponding qualifications, including especially foreign study programmes, may be assessed to be equivalent to the specified requirements. Foreign degrees may be sent to the Ministry of Higher Education and Science for assessment of the degree’s equivalence to a Danish degree at the same level.

For more information, please see Guidelines for the 4+4 scheme at CBS

Independent PhD Student

Since the number of scholarships is limited, CBS has opened for the possibility of becoming a PhD student as a so-called external or independent student. This implies no employment – and therefore, no salary from CBS. The PhD student is affiliated with CBS as a student only, and must pay a tuition fee. The tuition fee, including CBS' indirect costs is 354,000 DKK. The PhD programme for an independent student can last four or five years (part-time). In that case the tuition fee is 364,000 DKK for 4 years and 374,000 DKK for five years. If the study period is longer than the 3, 4 or 5 year that has been agreed at the beginning, the candidate must by additional 10,000 DKK pr. year.

The tuition fee can be funded personally or by an employer or another external funding provider. Independent students have no teaching obligations.
The requirements for enrolment as an independent student are the same as for research fellows, but as an independent student you of course do not have to apply for vacant scholarship. You can therefore choose any research topic within the CBS’ entire research field.

Industrial PhD Fellow

As an industrial PhD fellow, you are enroled at CBS as a PhD student, but are employed in a company or organisation. Thus, your salary is paid by another organisation and normally your workplace is in that organisation. You are expected to spend approximately 50% of your time in the company or organisation. Usually, you will be at CBS for longer periods of time, not least when you are taking courses and during intensive writing periods. Since you are not employed by CBS, you do not have any teaching obligations at CBS, but you do have a general obligation to communicate about your research.

To become an industrial PhD fellow you must be in contact with both a company and a CBS PhD School. Then you must apply to the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education for funding of your salary (50% can be covered) and the tuition fee. Read more about the scheme.

Visiting PhD Student

PhD students from other institutions in Denmark or abroad, who wish to spend a period of study at a department at CBS, should contact the department they wish to visit. Individual agreements may be made on supervision, participation in courses and a workplace between the student and the department.



The page was last edited by: PhD Support // 03/01/2024