PhD Studies


PhD Studies

The objective of PhD studies is to provide students with training in science and research and prepare them for independent work in a chosen field. That includes training in preparation and implementation of research, processing and interpretation of research findings, presentation and discussion of their research, and publication in international peer-reviewed journals. 

The School of Health Sciences offers diverse PhD study programmes. The School provides excellent research facilities and instructors who are some of the nation's foremost experts in health sciences. It collaborates on teaching and in research with many outstanding domestic and international institutions.

PhD studies are expected to take 3-5 years with normal progress and are usually commenced after completing a Master's degree.


More information on the doctoral studies

To enrol in a doctoral programme at the School of Health Sciences, a student must have completed an MS/MA degree from the University of Iceland with a minimum grade of 7.25 (on a scale of 0-10) or another qualification deemed equivalent by the Doctoral Studies Committee. 

Some Faculties may determine requirements regarding prerequisites or specific preparation.

Master or Cand. Med. students at the Faculty of Medicine may be enrolled in integrated PhD studies if they have demonstrated sufficient academic ability and have experience in research positively attested by a supervisor.

Before considering doctoral studies, applicants must have realised their field of interest.

When applying they must have an agreement with a supervisor, who is employed at the School of Health Sciences.

Applicants often find a research project after discussing with teachers, scientists or experts at the University of Iceland or other institutions. If the project is led by an expert outside of UI, a tutor within the University is appointed. Master's study research projects sometimes also extend into doctoral projects. When scientists receive grants for specific research projects they often advertise for doctoral students' participation.

Most importantly applicants must find a supervisor with an interesting project and well-defined research questions.

Before applying for PhD studies, applicants must have an agreement with a supervisor, who is employed at the School of Health Sciences.

To apply for PhD studies at the School of Health Sciences applicants must submit:

1. An electronic application form. Please contact the relevant Faculty Office if the application form is not accessible. 

2. Application form with a detailed research proposal or without a detailed research proposal.

The following documents should also be sent by email to the relevant faculty office:

  • The student's CV and degree certificates (BSc and MSc, or equivalent degree in English).
  • CV and list of published work of supervisor/advisor.
  • CV and list of published work of the members of the doctoral committee (in case the application has a description of the research project).
  • Copy of permissions (e.g. from ethics committees), if relevant.

Please note that the application cannot be processed without the above-mentioned documents. See also: Requirements that supporting documents must meet.

If the application is approved, a contract on the PhD studies is signed between the student and supervisor/supervisory teacher.

Details of the application process

  1. The PhD applicant and the supervisor send the application with or without a detailed research proposal to the relevant faculty office, along with supporting documents (see application forms and supporting documents under “How to Apply”). Note: Before you apply, you must have an agreement with a supervisor, who is employed at the School of Health Sciences. 
  2. The faculty standing committee assesses whether the faculty can provide sufficient knowledge and facilities and whether the budget has been set and then reports to the faculty office. 
  3. If an application with a detailed research proposal meets all the requirements, including the faculty´s admission requirements, and is correctly filled in, it is forwarded to the School of Health Sciences Doctoral Studies Committee (DSC). If an application without a detailed research proposal meets all the requirements, the faculty notifies the DSC that the application has been approved and the student is enrolled in doctoral studies. The student must then submit the research proposal (use “Application form with a detailed description of the research project”) within 6 months of enrolment which is then processed in the same way as an application with a detailed research proposal. Note: Applications to the Faculty of Medicine are only subject to the approval of the faculty’s standing committee.
  4. At the next DSC meeting, possible reviewers are discussed. After a reviewer has been nominated, the review usually takes 2-4 weeks. 
  5. If the application is approved, the applicant is invited for an interview along with the prospective supervisor(s). In some cases, the applicant is given the opportunity to reply to the comments before the interview. If the reviewer makes significant comments on the research proposal the applicant has four weeks to turn in a revised proposal.
  6. During the interview the applicant gets 10-15 minutes to present the project in their own words, without using any prepared slides. This is followed by 15-20 minutes of discussion. The supervisor is usually present at the interview along with the chairman and the secretary of DSC.  After the interview, the review is finalized and sent to the faculty.
  7. The applicant receives the interview comments and an enrolment letter.
  8. Enrolment and collection of the student registration fee.

Students at the University of Iceland do not pay tuition fees, only an annual registration fee. PhD students pay the registration fee every year during the entire study period. 

More information on the University of Iceland registration fee.

During the PhD study period the study progress will be assessed regularly. The regular assessment makes it easier for the student and the supervisors to discuss the progress of the research and the student's project. The assessment is done with progress reports that the student and supervisor do together.

Around halfway through the PhD study the status of the project is evaluated in detail (mid-term evaluation).

By the end of the study the PhD student will defend its thesis at a ceremonious event.

The objective of the PhD defence is to enable scientific discussions on the research topic between the student and the opponents. The student must show its knowledge of the subject and its abilities as a lecturer. 

The School of Health Sciences collaborates on teaching and research with many domestic and foreign institutions on an international scale. Partner institutions in Iceland include:

Scientists and PhD supervisors often work at these institutions and at the School of Health Sciences. Doctoral research often involves close collaboration with the above institutions. For example, the PhD programme in food science is offered in collaboration with Matís and students have access to the Matís headquarters on Vínlandsleið. 

Scientists at the School also conduct research on the international stage, collaborating with partners all over the world. Examples include prestigious universities such as Harvard University in the USA and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, as well as smaller research centres and institutes that excel in their fields. PhD students therefore often have the opportunity to work with and develop connections with international research teams.

In recent years the University of Iceland has placed emphasis on increasing the number of grants available to PhD students. A strong network of grants is an important prerequisite for candidates’ being able to focus on their studies and achieve their goals. Division of Science and Innovation offers further information on available funding.

PhD students of the School of Health Sciences can apply for travel grants from the School. The grants are to cover expenses when travelling abroad for conferences students contribute to, courses, summer schools and other programmes that support their PhD studies.

More information on the travel grants in Ugla or by contacting

International quality assurance

The School of Health Sciences has been awarded an ORPHEUS (Organisation for PhD Education in Biomedicine and Health Sciences in the European System) label for excellence in PhD training. The University of Iceland is the 5th university in Europe to receive the label.