AAU Career

PhD as a career

If you are considering a career as a PhD, you may have some questions.

➡ Below, we have gathered some information and links to learn more.

Considering a PhD?

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    Is a PhD the right choice for me?

    You can either make your own PhD project proposal or you can apply for a Ph.D. position where the project is already defined and the criteria for the position is outlined (in that case make sure you meet the requirements).


    Requirements for a PhD

    • Make sure that you meet the grade requirements. Higher grades increase your chances of being accepted. 
    • Publications also give bonus points. In case of several writers make sure to have a declaration stating very clearly your written parts. This declaration has to be signed by the co-writers.
    • Motivated application and a CV.
    • More info about the requirements you will find in the PhD projects/proposal.


    Characteristics and tasks for a PhD

    Having a career in academia with a PhD position means that there are some characteristics, you should feel comfortable with – e.g.:

    • Analysis, insight, conclusions and open endings
    • Reading and writing
    • Collaboration and community (more or less)
    • Dissemination (beyond the boundaries of science)
    • High level of responsibility of own work (both flexibility and pressure)
    • Navigating many tasks at once: reading, writing, field-working, presenting, discussing, organising, teaching, managing and supervising
    • Focus on future funding/job opportunities due to the time-limitation within a PhD


    Tuition for a PhD

    In many countries, you have to pay a yearly tuition fee when doing your PhD. However, you can also apply for grants to lessen the costs. Read more about PhD positions and do your own research.

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    Making my own PhD proposal: What to do?

    If you are interested in making your own PhD project proposal, we suggest you do the following:

    • Spend some time concretising a few things:
      • What have I specialised in?
      • What can I offer a research group/project?
      • Moreover, who can I contact and how?
    • Make sure to make a well-thought project proposal and a problem that can contribute to new research in that area. It is a good idea to get inputs and inspiration as well as discuss your idea with relevant persons.
    • Contact and get to know people/research groups with common interests.
    • It is a good idea to talk to the academic department that you expect to be affiliated during the PhD programme. Locate both existing PhD students to hear their experiences and advice as well as relevant researchers within the field you wish to focus on. You can reach out to PAU which is the association and network for all PhD students at AAU.
    • Look for a PhD supervisor with the knowledge in the research topic, who has possibly collaborated with relevant research interested companies and who is experienced with PhD supervision.
    • It takes time to write a good PhD proposal or application. You can get an idea of the process by looking at the template that needs to be filled out here.
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    Applying for a PhD at AAU: What should I know?

    You should also contact the doctoral schools for further information. The doctoral schools have the overall responsibility for organising and developing the PhD programmes offered. Aalborg University has 5 doctoral schools, which are specialised within the disciplines offered by the 5 faculties. The doctoral schools educate PhD fellows of a high international standard.


    More information about doing a PhD at AAU:

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    Applying for a PhD outside of AAU: What should I know?

    Other universities in Denmark and countries abroad also have PhD positions, which means that you can broaden your search by looking at the websites of other universities.

    In Denmark a PhD is considered a job, meaning you will receive a salary and a work contract. You can also contact your union, which can help you understand and negotiate your terms.


    A few websites to use as inspiration:

Considering an industrial PhD?

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    What are the terms for an industrial PhD?

    An industrial PhD is a three years industrial research programme and a PhD education, which is a coorperation between a company, a PhD student and a university.

    • The PhD student is employed with salary in the company and is enrolled at the university. The student divides his/her hours between the company and the university
    • The company and the university receive grants from the Innovation Fund to cover their expenses.


    the terms for an industrial PhD

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    Where can I get help searching for industrial PhDs?

    AAU Fundraising and Project Management Office can assist you in case:

    • You have support from the academic contacts AAU (i.e. the department and supervisor are already confirmed)
    • The application is for external funds, for instance at the Innovation Fund


    information about industrial PhDs

PhD or postdoc considering a career outside academia?

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    What are my career opportunities as a PhD?

    The research career

    A research career at a university often looks (very simplistic) like this (for the best qualified, who go all the way):

    1. A research education (PhD)
    2. Lecturer
    3. Assistant Professor
    4. Professor

    There are also other positions, e.g. post.doc., which give you the opportunity to develop yourself in terms of research and qualify for the next level in the position structure. This model will be relevant at most Danish universities.


    Other career paths for PhDs

    However, it is far from everyone who continues in a research career. Some take their PhD degree with them into other parts of the labor market.

    With a PhD your career can e.g. go in these directions:

    • An academic career at the university
    • Research in the industry or other organisations (e.g. commercial research institutions, NGOs, etc.)
    • Specialist roles such as teacher, consultant, advisor, development of focus areas, products, etc.
    • Generalist roles such as consultant, project management, etc.
    • Startups, where you, e.g., use your research knowledge to develop products, make production, or within consulting companies.

    Below you will find some tips on how to go about it when you are considering which career you would like to pursue with your PhD in the pocket.

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    Career outside the academic world - what should I do?

    Are you a PhD considering going in a different direction than academia? Here are some tips and links that can help you along the way.

    First of all, consider what kind of special knowledge you have as a result of the research you have done as a PhD, and how this can come into play in different roles, industries and organisations/companies.

    It will be both your specialist knowledge and your general, methodological and technical competencies as a PhD that open the door to a job outside academia - but you must be ready to dispute and mirror your knowledge in new ways and in new surroundings.

    It is a good idea to be strategic during your PhD. in relation to opening doors outside the university.

    You can e.g.:

    • Make sure to network both at university and outside throughout your PhD, as a large and relevant network can help you spot opportunities you had not thought of (LinkedIn is a great place to maintain your network).
    • Collaborate with business whenever possible. Then you get both new insights, networks and the opportunity to spot career opportunities in your field.
    • Discover new opportunities and seek out knowledge by, e.g., expanding related areas of interest to your core subject and knowledge.
    • Have different versions of your CV that focus on several obvious clues to your knowledge


    At the PhD schools at AAU you can find knowledge and guides especially for you if you are a PhD or postdoc who considers getting a job outside of the university. They also offer you career counselling.


    Read about careers for PhDs

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