PhD - before, during and after

What’s involved in a PhD?

A PhD is an academic degree, but since it also entails an employment, some legal terms and conditions concerning employment apply. Here, we have gathered the most important facts regarding hiring and employment terms.

Terms of employment

Is your PhD a funded PhD scholarship at public university? A PhD scholarship is a three-year employment contract. You will simultaneously be enrolled at the university.


When you are a state employee, your salary as a PhD scholar will consist of a base salary, pension and pay supplements and deductions. You will be placed in a base salary according to your education, reported experience under the state and employee unions’ contractual agreement.

In addition, there is a pension contribution. As supplemental wage to your base salary and pension, you will receive a centrally agreed PhD supplement.

Working hours

You have an average weekly working time of 37 hours as a publicly employed PhD scholar of the state. 
A PhD scholarship student is obliged to provide the work effort that is indicated in the stipulated program for the scholarship and described in the research and project plan.

If you are employed as a PhD scholar at a university, you are obliged to carry out work assignments for that institution according to its instructions, to an extent that corresponds to a total of 840 working hours for three years.

In general, you are not entitled to remuneration for additional work. Unless the additional hours are because your PhD position at the university demands far more hours than the stipulated 840 hours in 3 years.


As a PhD scholar, you are entitled to holidays and special vacation days according to the holiday laws and the state's statutory annual leave entitlement. The right to paid holidays must be earned - otherwise you are entitled to unpaid holidays.

Newly graduated employees of the state are yet entitled to paid time off (5 days) within the first year of employment, provided that certain specific conditions are met.

The right to paid time off (5 days) only applies for new employees from April 1, 2018 to August 31, 2020, after this, the new holiday laws will come into force.
The time of vacation should be settled between the PhD scholar and the employer, but it can be a hassle to mark vacation time on your calendar.

You can expect that the employer forces you to take holidays - both during and at the end of the scholarship. The employer has yet to comply with holiday laws.

Parental leave

As a university-employed PhD scholar, you have the right to parental leave and salary in connection with paternity or maternity leave according to the state's parental leave agreement.

In the event of absence due to parental leave, you are entitled to an extension of the scholarship corresponding to the length of your leave – but only for the part of the leave that is placed within the stipulated period of employment.

It may be significant for the extension, whether it is during or at the end of the PhD position that you take parental leave.

Off sick

There may be an opportunity for prolongation with a legitimate reason to delay your research. You do not have a guaranteed right to get an extension, but you have the right to request.

Municipality, region or private

You can also be employed as a PhD scholar in a region or municipality according to the rules of the regional or municipal contractual agreement, and you can be employed according to a single private contract.

Get help throughout your PhD scholarship

We can help you with legal advice, professional suppport and network when you do a PhD.

PhD Plan

You and the university will work together on a PhD plan in connection with the process of your enrolment. It contains, among other things, a timetable, a plan for participation in courses and a funding plan. Throughout the process, you and the supervisor can regularly follow up and possibly adjust the PhD plan.

If you do not follow the plan, you need to correct this. This is vital, otherwise your enrolment will completely stop to an end if you are unable to rectify- and your employment too if you are employed at the university.

The PhD programme consists of the following elements:

  • An independent research work under supervision (the PhD project)
  • PhD courses totaling approximately 30 ECTS credits
  • Participation in active research groups, including active presence at others, primarily foreign, research institutions, private research companies, etc.
  • Obtaining experience with teaching activities or other forms of imparting knowledge related to your PhD project
  • The PhD dissertation itself