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GSTS application guide

GSTS calls for applications four times a year - please see the deadlines below. You can apply for a PhD position with either your own project description or for one of the positions on the list of predefined PhD projects.
This guide applies to all PhD applicants no matter the type of PhD study structure.

To ensure that your application fulfills all the requirements, please read all the information below carefully before you apply.

Before you apply

Calls and deadlines

You can apply for a PhD position with either your own project description or for one or more positions on the list of predefined PhD projects - please note that the list is regularly updated. The list will be complete approximately two weeks before application deadline. There is no application fee.

There are four PhD application deadlines each year, and the application system opens 2 months before each deadline. The deadlines are the same no matter if you apply with your own project description or for a predefined project:

Call open for applications

Review of applications

Decision informed to applicants

Earliest start date*

1 December -
1 February

February - March

End of March

1 May

1 March - 1 May

May - June

End of June

1 August

1 June - 1 August

August - September

End of September

1 November

1 September -
1 November

November - December 

Beginning of January

1 February

NB: Application deadlines are at noon (11:59 AM CET/CEST).

*The start date depends on various factors, e.g. final enrollment requirements/details, getting a study- and residence permit (international students), etc.

You can apply for various projects within an application round, but please note that GSTS only evaluates one application per applicant per specific project. If you submit more than one application for the same project, GSTS reserves the right to evaluate only the latest application received.

The GSTS admission committee evaluates all the various elements in each application, but some elements in your application will have more weight than others. You can read more about what we are looking for in an application under the section “Assessment criteria and admission procedure” below.

If you are a non-Danish applicant:

GSTS must receive your application for a PhD position at least three months (for EU citizens) or four months (for international citizens) prior to the preferred start date. For example, if you want to start in the period 1 August – 1 October, GSTS must receive your application no later than the May call (deadline 1 May). You can also choose to apply in a previous call.

For applicants without a Master's degree:

You are welcome to apply for a PhD position before you obtain your Master’s degree. This will enable you to be evaluated and accepted in good time, so you can start your PhD study straight after your Master’s graduation. In this case, you must upload your Bachelor’s transcripts and diploma, as well as your Master’s transcripts to the application. Once you obtain your Master's diploma, you must send it to GSTS as soon as possible (regardless of whether it is before or after the assessment process).

Please note that you have the option of applying for enrolment based on your Bachelor’s degree with or without credits. You can read more about this on the “PhD study structure and income” page.

Assessment criteria

The main criteria used in evaluating incoming applicants are their documented qualifications (composition of previous course programme, grades, publications, motivation, study periods abroad, duration of study, recommendations, etc.).

Regarding grade point average: GSTS does not have a fixed requirement for a minimum level of the grade point average. However, you can use the grade point average requirements from the Industrial PhD scheme (page 3-4) as a guideline for the approximate minimum level for PhD admission.

Secondary criteria are the scientific quality of the prepared research project for the PhD degree programme and the suitability of the research environment for such a project.

Additional aspects that can be taken into consideration include previous activities outside the university, plans for mobility during the PhD study period, plans for collaboration with external partners, plans for dissemination activities, etc. 

When assessing applicants with a Master’s degree, more weight is placed on the secondary criteria and additional aspects than for applicants without a Master’s degree.

Financing and prospective supervisors

It is strongly recommended that a prospective supervisor is contacted before applying via an open call in order to discuss a potential project and inquire about possible financing. The likelihood of securing admission through an open call depends on the available resources of the supervisor and PhD programme for which the student applies.

To learn more about our PhD programmes and to find a researcher to contact about possible supervision, please visit the programme website or search for a researcher by subject here.

Admission to a PhD programme of study is contingent upon financing. Financing can come from a variety of sources such as public or private research foundations, private companies, EU programmes, etc. These types of funding are often secured through the PhD supervisor. Some international PhD students receive financing from their home country, and some PhD students are employed in private companies, most often as part of the Industrial PhD programme.

If a student is admitted, it is the responsibility of Aarhus University to ensure that a complete financing plan is in place for the PhD student in connection with admission. The plan covers all expenses for the PhD programme: Scholarship/fellowship, tuition fee, running costs, incl. expenses for mobility plans, etc.

All accepted PhD students must pay tuition. In most cases, tuition is covered by the PhD financing plan. However, if the PhD student is self-financed, for example via international grants or private funding, the PhD student must secure the tuition fee him- or herself.

Information and attachments needed for the application

Please note that you must have all relevant appendices, attachments, addresses for referees, etc. ready when you apply, as the entire application must be uploaded in one go. A partially completed application cannot be saved and completed later.

If you wish to upload more than one document under each section, you must scan/merge all documents into one large PDF document and upload this. GSTS reserves the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and similar. You may consider indicating a URL where the information is available. 

All information in the application must be in English or Danish, preferably English. Please note that GSTS reserves the right to verify the authenticity of your educational diploma and transcripts. This means that GSTS can request additional information to verify an application, and reject the application if it is proven, or if the University has reasonable grounds to believe, that the information provided is false or if the applicant refuses to provide the requested information, irrespective of whether an offer has already been made. 

You will be asked to enter information regarding:
Attachments must be pdf-files, max. 20 MB, no zip.

  • Personal information - please provide proof of name changes if all documents does not bear the same name. 
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Academic background - diplomas and transcripts for all relevant, credit-bearing qualification(s), such as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Please note, that even if you have started/finished your Master’s degree programme, the transcripts and diploma of your Bachelor’s degree must still be included in the application. If the original documents are not in English or one of the Scandinavian languages (i.e. Norwegian, Swedish or Danish) then copies of the original documents as well as a certified English translation must be attached.
  • Grade point average - the weighted and unweighted grade point average of your academic degrees. The grade point average of your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees must be stated separately clearly indicating whether the average is weighted or unweighted. The weighted grade point average must be calculated based on your transcripts' grading scale (e.g. ECTS/credits/points etc) - a tool for the weighted calculation is available here: for ECTS, for Other credits (up to 35 courses) and for Other credits (up to 75 courses). Please upload the calculation as a PDF file under ‘Other information to consider’.
    If available, GSTS encourages you to also upload documentation of your ranking, i.e. in which pct. you have been ranked in the graduation class of your study programme. 
  • Admission - information on desired starting date, credit transfer, etc.
  • Language skills - please see the “Documentation of language skills” section below. 
  • Financing - indicate sources and amounts of possible financial support, if any. Also, please see the "Financing and prospective supervisors" section above.
  • Plan of study - use the drop-down menu to choose your specific project or open call. Please enter the title of your open call project.
  • Project description for open calls (½-4 pages) - describe your ideas and research plans for your project. You can indicate a URL to further information. GSTS strongly recommends that you discuss a potential project with a prospective supervisor at Aarhus University before applying. If, however, you write the project description on your own, the PhD committee will use it to find a potential supervisor for you or to match you with another research project close to your interests.
  • Project description for specific projects (½-4 pages) - the project announcement will state whether you should copy the description from it or write one yourself. Describe your ideas and research plans if you write the description yourself. You can indicate a URL to further information. GSTS strongly recommends that you contact the relevant supervisor listed in the project announcement prior to applying.
  • References (min. 1) - optionally, you can use this template to send to your referee(s). Previously obtained letters of reference can also be uploaded as PDFs. Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that all relevant references are received at GSTS. You can either upload the reference (as PDF) yourself or ask the referee to send it as PDF directly to GSTS via e-mail to gradschool.tech@au.dk. If you choose the latter, please upload a PDF document saying that you have done so. Please note that GSTS will not contact referees to remind them to submit a reference. GSTS will upload the reference to the application so it will not be visible to the applicant.
  • Motivation (max. 1 page) - explain your reasons for applying.
  • Source - how you found out about the call.

As a minimum, all applications must include curriculum vitae, transcripts and diploma(s), grade point averages (weighted and unweighted), project description, one reference and motivation. Documentation of language skills should also be included, if required.

A certified English translation is required for documents written in languages other than English or one of the Scandinavian languages (i.e. Norwegian, Swedish or Danish) languages.

Documentation of language skills

The English language requirement at the GSTS is comparable to an “English B level” in the Danish upper secondary school (“gymnasium”).

English language qualifications comparable to an “English B level” are documented by one of the tests stated below under the heading 'Approved language skills tests'.

The following applicants are exempted from documenting their English qualifications/taking a test:

  • Applicants with citizenship from the following countries Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, or one of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden).
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme completed in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States. In this case, please upload your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma under the section ”Language skills documentation”.
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme completed at a Danish university for which the requirement was English B level at the time of admission. In this case, please upload your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma under the section ”Language skills documentation”.

Approved language skills tests

The following language skills tests are approved for PhD applications at the GSTS:

  • TOEFL test (internet-based), minimum score: 83. The GSTS does not accept the paper-based test, nor the TOEFL ITP test. Remember to ask the test center to send your test results to Aarhus University in order to enable verification of your test results. Aarhus University’s TOEFL code is 8935Currently, the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test (available in selected areas) will also be accepted.
  • IELTS (academic) test, minimum average score: 6.5 points
  • Cambridge English Language Assessment:
    Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (CPE)
    Cambridge English: Certificate of Advanced English with grade A,B or C (CAE)
    Cambridge English: First Certificate  with grade A (FCE)

When to take the test and how to upload the documentation: 
The test result must not be more than two years old at the time of application.

The English language test should be taken before applying for admission and uploaded under “language skills documentation” in the online application form.

It is possible to apply for admission before you have taken the test. In this case, documentation stating that you have signed up for a test (please state expected submission date) must be uploaded. If the test result is not part of the original application, the test result must be sent to gsts@psys.au.dk no later than one month after the application deadline. 

How to apply

Filling in an online application

  1. Application attachments:
    The "Information and attachments needed for the application" section above contains important information about the various application elements. Please read this information carefully before you start your application.
    Please note that you cannot submit the application if one or several of these documents have not been uploaded.
    If you wish to upload more than one document under each section, please scan/merge all documents into one large PDF document and upload this. Please note that we reserve the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and similar. Instead you can indicate a URL where the information is available.
  2. When you have all your attachments and information ready, go to the application page and find the application form by clicking on the current open call and the programme/field in which you wish to apply, e.g. “November 2018” and “Engineering”.
  3. Fill in information and upload your attachments.
    Attachments must be pdf-files, max. 20 MB, no zip. All information in the application must be in Danish or English.
    Some of the information fields in the application have a little number outside of them to the right. By clicking on the number, you can find further directions on how to fill in the information field/what information is needed.

After submission of the application, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with an application ID you should use for reference, if needed.

Please note: The programme committee may request further information or invite you to attend an interview.

NB: The online application has to be filled out in one session. It cannot be saved and completed on a later date. However, it will stay open for filling out for as long as the browser window is open.

The GSTS does not charge an application fee.

After you have applied

Assessment procedure

All incoming applications are considered collectively by the GSTS admissions committee, which draws on the recommendations supplied by the programme committees at the Faculty of Technical Sciences. The head of the graduate school admits new PhD students based on the recommendations of the admissions committee.

Click this link for more information of the Members of the admissions committee at Faculty of Technical Sciences.

Informing applicants about the decision

After all applications have been evaluated, you will receive an e-mail from the GSTS with either an offer of admission or a rejection. If you approve the admission offered, you will be contacted by the GSTS in regards to the actual start date, study and residence permit if needed (international students), etc.

If you have a Danish CPR number, documents relating to your admission to the GSTS will be delivered to your e-Boks. You are required to be able to receive digital mail from public agencies, and are responsible for checking your e-Boks. If you do not have a Danish CPR number, you will receive these documents by e-mail or by letter mail, depending on your geographical location.

Under the “Calls and deadlines” section above, there is a timetable for the application process including when you can expect to receive the response from the GSTS.    

After enrolment


On admission, the head of PhD school appoints the supervisor(s) for each PhD student based on the recommendations of the programme committee:

  • One main supervisor, who is a permanent member of the scientific staff at the Faculty of Technical Sciences at the level of at least Associate Professor or Senior Researcher. The main supervisor has overall responsibility for the PhD student’s project and PhD studies.

  • Optional co-supervisors who are employed either within or outside the university and qualified within the field in question.

Any later changes of main supervisor and/or co-supervisor(s) must be approved by the GSTS (see section 5.3 in the GSTS Rules and Regulations).

The GSTS recommends that you talk to your supervisor(s) about matching expectations.

Practical info for internationals

Do I need a work and residence permit and if yes, how can I get it? What about tax registration? Where should I live? As an international student starting your PhD studies in Denmark, you may have questions like these concerning practical matters. Therefore, the GSTS has gathered info for international students to help you get on top of the practicalities.

Initiating the PhD project

Congratulations on your enrolment as a PhD student at the GSTS! Our "Initiating the project" page contains info, guidelines and tools on starting up your project and the formalities in this regard.


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