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The Danish PhD programme: high quality attracting private sector employers

Despite a significant rise in number of PhD students, the Danish PhD programme maintains its high quality. Moreover, Denmark is in the top spot among the OECD countries when it comes to PhD graduates employed in the private sector, according to a new comprehensive analysis.

Mar 03, 2017

The analysis is made by the Danish Ministry og Higher Education and Science.

Three out of four international supervisors consider the quality of Danish PhD theses to be ‘very good’ or ‘good’, the analysis shows. The analysis shows 37 percent of Danish PhD graduates employed in the private sector, placing Denmark in the top spot among OECD countries.

The analysis is based on an extensive set of data from different reports. Almost 9,000 PhD students, supervisors and international researchers have contributed to the analysis of quality and relevance of the Danish PhD programme.

Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science Søren Pind says;

 - A PhD is the most excellent education in Denmark setting the scene for much of our research and teaching efforts. PhDs are to push limits, inspire and make us all smarter through their research efforts. The analysis demonstrates that Denmark has an excellent PhD programme and that PhDs are in high demand among employers.

From 2003 to 2010 the intake of students to the PhD programme increased from 1,200 to approximately 2,600 students annually. This increase was partly due to the Globalisation Agreement of 2006 backed by a broad majority in the Danish Parliament aiming to strengthen growth and innovation capacity in Denmark. In 2012 the Danish government decided to maintain this PhD intake level.

The PhD analysis is now due for a stakeholder review concluding with a conference in Copenhagen April 6 2017.

Sign up for the conference in Copenhagen on April 6 (in Danish)

Learn more about the PhD analysis (in Danish)

More findings of the PhD analysis

  • 81 per cent of PhD students are satisfied or very satisfied with their PhD programme.
  • 24 per cent of the responding PhD supervisors consider the academic level of PhD students to be higher than ten years ago, and 48 per cent deem the academic level to be the same as ten years ago. 
  • The proportion of international PhD students rose by 19 per cent from 2003 to 2014. Five years after graduation, 41 per cent of the international PhD students from the 2009 graduation cohort remain in Denmark. This amounts to an increase of 20 percentage points compared to the 2000 graduation cohort.
  • 75 per cent of the responding international assessors of Danish PhD theses deem the quality of the PhD theses to be good or very good compared to international standards of the academic discipline in question.
  • The goal set out in the Globalisation Agreement in 2006 regarding a significantly increased intake of PhD students particularly within the medical and health sciences, natural sciences and engineering and technology fields has been achieved.

For further information please contact:

Press secretary Jakob Sejr Teichert: tel.: +45 7231 9503 or email jte@ufm.dk
Senior adviser Anita Damsgaard, tel. +45:7231 8590 or email



last modified Dec 15, 2022