Study Abroad: Tips & Updates

PhD in Sweden: A Complete Guide to Study PhD in Sweden for International Students

Sumeet Jain

A PhD in Sweden is the highest level of educational qualification in Sweden. A PhD degree can be completed in 4 years of full-time study whereas you will graduate with a licentiate degree after 2 years of full-time study which is equivalent to MPhil of the British education system. Around 70% of the research in Sweden is privately financed and the remaining 30% is public funded. Research programs in Sweden are quite competitive and to be admitted as doctoral students you must fulfill the entry requirements, have good English language proficiency and also demonstrate strong interest and ability to cope with the program.

Sweden provides a specialized environment for doctoral education. One of the main highlights of a PhD in Sweden is that it is free of cost for all students including non-EU/ EEA students. Along with the doctoral program, you will work as administrative or teaching staff at the university which is equivalent to not more than 20% of the full-time position. If you are planning to study PhD in Sweden, read this guide to get information regarding top universities, PhD programs in Sweden, PhD requirements in Sweden, top universities, cost of studying, funding opportunities and more.

Table of Contents:

  1. Why Study PhD in Sweden?
  2. Popular Specializations for PhD in Sweden
  3. Top PhD Colleges and Universities in Sweden
  4. How to Apply for a PhD in Sweden?
  5. Eligibility Criteria for PhD in Sweden
  6. Cost of Studying PhD in Sweden
  7. Funding Opportunities for Studying PhD in Sweden

Why Study PhD in Sweden?

Before diving deep into the details of PhD in Sweden for Indian students, let us take a look at reasons why studying PhD in Sweden is preferable:

  • Home to reputed institutions: Sweden is home to some historical institutions that enjoy world-class reputation as leaders of research especially in the field of Medicine, Health, Life Sciences among others.
  • No tuition fees: Yes, you read it right. Sweden does not charge any tuition fee for PhD from students of any nationality. It is one of the top reasons why international students prefer studying PhD in Sweden.
  • Progressive country: Sweden is quite a progressive country with high tech research facilities, promotes growth mindset and provides a very supportive environment for creative thinkers.

Suggested: Get acquainted with the education system of Sweden!

Sweden is known for its world class research and about 3% of the country’s GDP is dedicated to research and innovation. All the 17 public universities in Sweden and 14 private universities in Sweden contribute significantly to research. Almost 30% of the research is carried out at top universities in Sweden for PhD. Sweden is home to some top pharmaceutical giants Astrazeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Bayer and more. Some key areas of research in Sweden are:

  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medicine
  • Biotechnology
  • Sustainable energy
  • Environmental technology
  • Life sciences

Top PhD Colleges and Universities in Sweden

Sweden is home to 8 universities that ranked in QS rankings 2022 which also has a very high research output. Though rankings of institutions are not relevant for research, it will definitely help you in understanding the area of specializations of the university. Take a look at the table below to learn about top universities in Sweden for PhD:


QS Ranking 2022

Lund University


KTH Royal Institute of Technology


Chalmers University of Technology


Uppsala University


Stockholm University


University of Gothenburg


Linkoping University


Umea University


How to Apply for a PhD in Sweden?

The process to apply for PhD in Sweden is somewhat different than applying for bachelor’s or master’s in Sweden. Take a look at the steps in the application process to study PhD in Sweden:

  1. You will have to apply directly to the universities in Sweden for PhD as there is no centralized application portal for PhD admission in Sweden.
  2. Start by looking for projects advertised by top universities in Sweden for PhD if you are interested in STEM subjects or go ahead with your project ideas for PhD in Education in Sweden or research in the areas of Arts, Humanities and Social Science.
  3. Depending on your area of interest, check whether you fulfill the PhD requirements in Sweden.
  4. Universities in Sweden for PhD set their own entry requirements and also specify the procedure for applying.
  5. Complete your application for PhD admission in Sweden and prepare all supporting documents.
  6. Track the progress of your application and wait for the admission decision.
  7. You may be invited to an interview regarding your research proposal.

Eligibility Criteria for PhD in Sweden

The Sweden PhD requirements are set by individual universities. The general eligibility criteria to study PhD in Sweden are:

  1. Educational qualifications
  2. Proof of English language proficiency
  3. Research experience
  4. Residence permit
  5. Health insurance

Let us discuss the eligibility criteria to be met for admission to PhD programs in Sweden:

  1. Educational Qualifications

To apply for PhD in Sweden, you will need a second-cycle qualification i.e. a master’s degree in a related field is recommended especially if you wish to apply for funding. You must have completed courses of at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits must be for a master's degree.

  1. Proof of English Language Proficiency

Swedish universities offer PhD in English so if English is not your first language, you must submit IELTS or TOEFL scores as proof of language proficiency. There is no need to be proficient in Swedish language to study in Sweden. The minimum English language proficiency scores recommended for admission are:

  • IELTS score: Overall 6.5, no band less than 5.5
  • TOEFL-iBT: Overall 90, with minimum 20 in written test
  1. Research experience

Having some previous research or work experience in a field related to your research proposal can immensely help you in the application and selection process.

  1. Residence Permit

International students need to apply for a residence permit to study in Sweden for programs longer than 90 days. To apply for residence permits, you will need to provide copies of your passports, proof of finances, educational qualifications, etc. You can apply for a residence permit after receiving a letter of acceptance from the university where you have been admitted.

  1. Health Insurance

After coming to Sweden, all students will require health insurance. Your university may cover the health insurance as a part of funding for international students.

Suggested: Complete guide on student visa of Sweden!

Cost of Studying PhD in Sweden

Having learned about the Sweden PhD requirements, let us take a look at the cost of studying PhD in Sweden. The cost of studying for a PhD in Sweden includes tuition fees and cost of living.

  • One major relief for students applying for PhD in Sweden is that there is absolutely no tuition fees for all students irrespective of their nationality.
  • Universities in Sweden for PhD don’t even charge application fees.
  • So clearly you are only left with the living expenses which is around 8,568 SEK per month on an average. This can differ depending on your preferences and location in Sweden.
  • Usually, the rent of accommodation ranges between 2,500-6,500 SEK per month which is a major expense and you will find costlier accommodation in cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg compared to other places.

Suggested: Estimated cost of living in Sweden for international students! 

Funding Opportunities for Studying PhD in Sweden

Funding options include applying for various scholarships and bursaries awarded by universities in Sweden for PhD. As a general practice, doctoral students in Sweden are regarded as employees at most universities. Here is how this works:

  • You will be applying for doctoral positions available and universities offer them departmental administration service or teaching.
  • With an employment contract, you will be entitled to a salary which is commonly known as a study grant.
  • You can expect to get 1500 SEK as a study grant while studying PhD in Sweden for international students.
  • The Swedish government funds third-cycle education programs through direct government funding, government agencies, research councils, public research foundations and municipalities.

PhD in Sweden for international students is a lucrative option. Sweden happens to be a research and development intensive country in the world and an ideal location for young and innovative minds. There are various areas of specializations for pursuing research in Sweden which ensures opportunities for all. Post completion of Phd, you can apply for work permit in Sweden


Frequently Asked Questions about PhD in Sweden

Is PhD in Sweden free?

Is it hard to get a PhD in Sweden for Indian students?

Is a PhD in Sweden a job for students?

Are international students allowed to stay in Sweden after PhD?

What are the top areas of research in Sweden?

Articles you might like