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PhD and research in Europe

You are never too late when it comes to studying in Europe. You may already have your bachelor’s and master’s degree, but if you believe that your future is in academia, Europe holds considerable PhD, post-doc and research opportunities.

Becoming a PhD student

You have several options, if you want to become a PhD candidate at a European university. Every country has different opportunities for PhD candidates, so be sure to read the country profile of the country you are interested in.

To obtain a PhD position, you can either apply for a position in an existing research, or apply with your own research plan. Universities often promote the researches they are currently involved in, so it is good to see what fits your interests and academic background. PhDs normally last 3-5 years, where you conduct your research guided by a lecturer or professor.

To finance this, PhD students often work part time as (assistant) lecturer in their area of expertise and in addition apply for a scholarship. Also, many PhD positions are an actual job. The vacancies are posted on the university websites and if you are accepted, you are guaranteed a job for the duration of your research. Often, this kind of PhD positions arise when universities start large research projects, after having received a grant or other funds.

Continuing with a Post-doc

After a PhD, you can pursue a Post-doc position. These are often more difficult to obtain and in most cases the researcher will have to provide the funding for his or her research. This means connecting to local, European and global scientific organisations for scholarships and grants. A well-known initiative is the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska- Curie Actions . This programme supports researchers in all stages of their careers. Another European programme is Horizon2020. Many European research universities are conducting research that is (partially) funded by this programme, either individually or as part as a consortium with other universities, organisations or businesses all over the world.


Mobility is key: researchers are encouraged to extend their horizons. Euraxess is a European Commission initiative to help researchers to be mobile: either by coming to Europe to do research, or to travel within Europe and worldwide to conduct it. The Euraxess job portal helps you find the research position that you are looking for and the funding that you might need. Worldwide, contact persons are available to help you with your questions. For instance, Euraxess South Korea was launched recently. Check if there is someone in your country that can connect you to Europe and your European future in academia.

Research in Europe - Euraxess

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