How to become a PhD student

To gain admission to a doctoral programme, candidates must normally have a five-year master’s degree. After special assessment, the institution may approve other equivalent education as a basis for admission. Doctoral programmes are standardised to three years of full-time studies, or four years including 25% required duties.

Applicants are normally required to have a weighted average grade of B or better and B or better on their master’s thesis. Special requirements may be stipulated regarding admission to the various PhD programmes, depending on the field of study and criteria stated in the PhD position announcement.

In order to apply for admission to a PhD programme, you must have funding. Funding is provided through grants from the Ministry of Education and Research (KD grants), through employment with a company (Industrial PhD/Public Sector PhD), or through self-financing (grant funding, project funding etc.). If your application is based on self-financing, documentation must be attached showing that you have sufficient funding to complete the research education for the entire admission period.

It is also expected that the applicant can document good English language proficiency. Research results must be communicated both orally and in writing in English, and participation in seminars must be conducted in English.

Applicants must be able to collaborate with others in our PhD community and with other colleagues. You must also be able to work independently to a high academic standard.

How to apply for a PhD position:

All our PhD positions are announced here: Vacancies at USN.

An application for admission to a PhD programme must normally be submitted within three months of starting a research project (date of employment). If less than one year of full-time work on the research project remains at the time of application, the applicant may be rejected.

How to apply for an Industrial PhD/Public Sector PhD:

The applicant must be employed by an enterprise that has applied to the Research Council of Norway for funding and entered into a collaboration agreement with the PhD programme. Information about the Industrial PhD scheme and relevant forms can be found here.

For further information and assistance in the application process, contact the PhD coordinator of the programme you are applying for.


Other funding schemes:

A documented funding plan must be attached to the application together with recommendations from the main supervisor. If you are an external applicant or have questions about collaboration agreements/cotutelle agreements, please contact the PhD coordinator on the programme you are applying for for further information.


Application for admission consists of a standard application form with the following attachment requirements:

  • Documentation of previous relevant education (bachelor’s and master’s degree diplomas showing grades and credits)
  • Project description including title, research questions, theory and choice of research method. The project description must be written in collaboration with the main supervisor. The project description requires a signature from all supervisors in addition to the candidate
  • Training component plan that includes all courses (minimum 30 credits). All courses must be at PhD level. Courses to be taken at another institution must be documented with a course description
  • Progress plan, preliminary publication plan, funding plan and plan for submission of the thesis
  • Name of main supervisor and other supervisors. Supervisors must normally be employed at USN
  • Plan for stays abroad or stays at another institution

Incomplete applications will not be processed.