Find the best PhD in Europe to study

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PhD in Europe

The globally acclaimed educational institutions of Europe are founded on the principle of research and innovation and the continent is also home to the headquarters of several renowned multinational enterprises as well as state-of-the-art centres of scientific exploration. Geneva, Berlin and Paris are amongst the top preferred study destinations in Europe. Moreover, offering international-level exposure and knowledge into a varied range of fields and specialisations, the continent attracts an immense number of students from all nooks and corners of the world every year who enrol across an array of bachelor’s, master’s and PhD programmes. Particularly, a PhD in Europe is a highly specialized degree program provided in a multitude of specialised disciplines. If you are planning to pursue a doctoral degree in the continent, here is a detailed guide on the key essentials you should know before applying for a PhD in Europe.

Also Read: PhD after MTech


A doctoral degree like a PhD is undertaken as research in a particular topic within a subject, such as a PhD in English on ‘Shakespearean Literature’ or a PhD in Economics on ‘Market Volatility’. European institutions offer flexibility as to the constituents of a PhD degree in terms of duration, thesis, the language of instruction, coursework, and teaching requirements, amongst others. Usually, a PhD in Europe lasts for a minimum of 3 years extending to 5-6 years and the application requirements mandate submission of a research proposal to the professor, department or at the application portal. Prospective students are advised to visit course websites for the latest information.

PhD in Europe: Eligibility Requirements

Applicants need to fulfil some minimum eligibility conditions in order to pursue a PhD in Europe. Many universities generally require candidates to have a master’s degree in their chosen field of study. However, in some cases, institutions may also admit students on the basis of a high-ranking bachelor’s degree. Further, a minimum score is required throughout all postsecondary qualifications, for instance, in the UK, a first or upper-second-class UK honours degree or its international equivalent. 

Research Proposal

A considerable number of European institutions require prospective applicants to submit a research proposal which details the intended topic of research that the applicant wishes to pursue at the institution. Further, it also delineates the professors under which the applicant wishes to work and how it will help him in developing his interest. The university strives for a balance between the expectations of the applicant and the facilities it is providing so as to promote student development.


In comparison to institutions in USA, Canada and Australia, a PhD in Europe is affordable in terms of tuition fees, living costs and other expenses. Further, besides university-based funding in the form of scholarships, assistantships etc, the country of study also offers diverse funding opportunities like monthly stipends, research assistantships, tuition fee waivers and country-based scholarships.

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PhD in Europe: How To Apply

The process of application for a PhD in Europe can be undertaken in two ways. One, through direct professor approach and recommendation (only a few students get admission through this way) and the other through the traditional application process. The former method requires you to approach a professor at the university from your field and ask for an admission recommendation. If the professor is impressed by your academic qualifications and experience, you will be offered a PhD admission to the university. On the other hand, the conventional application process is similar to the regular application procedure and requires you to upload all the necessary documents such as LOR, SOP and resume amongst others along with submitting the application fee. After a month or two encompassing the evaluation process, the university will provide the list of selected students on their admission portal.

PhD in Europe: Top Study Destinations

There are a plethora of study destinations in Europe that offer quality educational programs in an array of fields and specializations. The continent is home to some of the best academic institutions in the world and is home to an immense number of research centres and universities. Here is a list of major study destinations in Europe and their renowned institutions along with other specific details about PhD programs offered.


Home to one of the top universities in the world, the United Kingdom (UK) provide a huge number of PhD and research opportunities spanning a multitude of specialisations from Business Administration to disciplines of Liberal Arts. Most UK universities will essentially need a master’s degree as well as English language proficiency tests such as IELTS and TOEFL as key eligibility prerequisites for a PhD program.

Duration: Minimum 3 years; full-time

Institutions: University of Bristol, University of Manchester, University of Sussex etc.

Also Read: Cost of Studying in UK for Indian Students


German universities are internationally renowned for their offered range of Science and Engineering programs. Providing courses with low or almost no tuition fees, Germany also has an array of government grants for international students aspiring to pursue a PhD. These grants are availed by DAAD and Excellence Initiative with an aim to equip meritorious students with financial assistance for PhD programs.

Duration: 3-4 years

Institutions: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen; TU Munchen, Humboldt University Berlin etc.

Also Read: Study in Germany Without IELTS


France is another prominent European study destination for those aspiring to pursue PhD programs in technical fields such as Engineering, Information Technology, amongst others. The tuition fees for PhD courses in French universities are typically low and students are allowed to pursue independent research programmes at the elitist institutions of the country. Further, you can also go for dual-degree courses that are an exceptional combination of a master’s degree and a PhD.

Duration: 3-4 years

Institutions: Université PSL, Ecole Polytechnique, etc


With the perks of affordable education and living costs, Finland is home to two of the world’s renowned research universities, i.e. the University of Helsinki and the Aalto University. Further, major PhD courses are offered in English and you don’t necessarily need to learn Finnish to pursue a course in the country.

Duration: 3-4 years

Institutions: University of Helsinki, Aalto University, University of Eastern Finland etc.

Also Read: Study in Finland


Located at the heart of Europe, Austria provides a multitude of PhD programs in interdisciplinary specialisations of several disciplines such as Engineering, Applied Sciences, Humanities, etc. The country is home to a wide range of academic institutions offering opportunities in professional, medical and technical research.

Duration: 3-4 years

Institutions: MODUL University of Vienna, University of Innsbruck, University of Graz, etc.


Emerging rapidly as a cosmopolitan hub, Belgium is internationally popular for its PhD programs in Political Science and International Relations. There are several reputable educational institutions in the country providing highly stimulating research opportunities for budding scholars. Also, the living costs and course fees are relatively lower as compared to other European cities.

Duration: 3-4 years

Institutions: Universite de Liege, University of Mons, Université libre de Bruxelles, etc.


Which European country is best for pursuing a PhD?

International researchers are welcome at Germany’s research organisations, universities, and enterprises, which provide good prospects for PhD students. Every year, over 29,000 graduate students complete a PhD in Germany, significantly more than in any other European Union member state.

Is a PhD supported in Europe?

Each European country is free to determine its own costs for doctorates and other degrees. However, EU member countries must charge the same tuition to students from other EU countries that they do on their own.

In Europe, how long does a PhD take?

In general, it takes at least four years to earn a PhD in Europe, and examinations are not frequently necessary, as they are in other countries such as the United States.

Hence, Europe is filled with immense possibilities for those striving for PhD programs in specialised disciplines. If you are planning to pursue PhD in Europe, using the AI tool at Leverage Edu you can browse through various European institutions and their offered courses solely based on your unique interests, thereby helping you find the right doctoral program in your chosen field.

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