Faculty of Social Sciences

Admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Social Sciences

Here you can find the rules and additional guidelines for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

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The formal requirements and procedures on admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Social Sciences are based on the regulations for the PhD-degree at the University of Bergen and in the Programme description for the PhD programme

Two paths to admission

  1. Applicants who are appointed a research fellowship at the Faculty of Social Sciences will consequently be admitted to the PhD programme, if a complete project description was included in the application.
  2. Applications for admission from applicants with other sources of funding are processed as they are received. Please note that adequate financing must be secured before applying for admission. 

Admission requirements

Here are the requirements for admission:

Educational background

PhD candidates must normally have an educational background corresponding to a master’s degree with a scope of 120 ECTS credits, which builds on a bachelor’s degree with a scope of 180 ECTS credits (normally 2 + 3 years), or an integrated master’s degree with a scope of 300 ECTS credits (5 years). Master’s degrees must normally include an independent work of a minimum of 30 ECTS credits. 

The faculty adheres to NOKUT’s guidelines in the GSU list for the approval of foreign education. 

The Faculty of Social Sciences also approves one-year master’s degrees as a basis for admission to the PhD programme if the conditions below are met.

For master’s degrees that are basis for admission to the PhD programme, the following requirements apply:

The master’s  degree...

  1. is part of an overall higher education that is equivalent to a total of at least four years of university education in Norway,  
  2. has a level equivalent to the requirements for Norwegian master’s degrees
  3. qualifies to apply for admission to a PhD programme at the relevant (master degree) educational institution,
  4. includes adequate and relevant training in methods, and 
  5. includes an independent work that has a scope of at least 30 credits.

If the applicant can document relevant supplementary courses at the master’s level and/or other clearly research-relevant activities (scientific work or output), this may be included in the assessment of items 2, 4 and 5 above. 

Adequate and relevant training in methods means that the applicant must document training in method at master's level that is relevant to the planned PhD project. If the master's program does not contain specific method courses, the applicant must document what kind of method training he or she had (integrated into other courses) by including syllabus lists, method assignments or equivalent documentation in the admission application. Applicants who wish to be affiliated with the Department of Comparative Politics must document methodological training at master's level in both qualitative and quantitative methods.

The master’s degree should normally be in the subject area to which admission is being applied for. If the academic group finds that the applicant lacks the necessary knowledge in the field of study, the Faculty can, on the recommendation of the academic group, impose additional requirements in addition to the compulsory training component in the PhD programme.

Grade requirements

The minimum requirement for applicants is usually a B, both for the independent work and the master’s degree as a whole. Particular importance is attached to the grade for the independent work.


Applicants not employed in a PhD fellowship position must provide documentation of satisfactory financing, for both their living expenses and the costs relating to research for the entire agreement period. The normal agreement period corresponds to three years set aside for work on the thesis and training component. The programme does not admit applicants who want to finance their own PhD education.

If the applicant has funding from a foreign institution, documentation must be provided of the financial arrangements in the event of illness.

The applicant must document satisfactory research funds for execution of the PhD project.

Vacant research fellow positions at the university are regularly announced and advertised in the daily press and under Vacant positions on the University of Bergen’s web-pages. The faculty does not otherwise have the resources to finance doctoral education.

Project description

Applicants must submit a project description of 5–8 pages. Some job advertisements request none, or a shorter project description for the application. In such cases, a complete project description must be developed in consultation with the supervisor and approved before the candidate can be admitted to the PhD programme. The approved project description must be sent to the faculty within 3 months after the position start date. The project description must describe the topic, set of issues being addressed and the choice of theory and method, as well as any ethical issues. The project description must indicate the schedule for the various parts of the research project. It must also include a budget for the costs of carrying out the PhD project. When assessing applications, decisive weight will be given to the quality of the project and the feasibility of the project being executed within the nominal length of study for a PhD of three years.

The Faculty has prepared 10 important points to consider when writing a project description:

  1. Applicants must document their familiarity with the research field, both nationally and internationally.
  2. The problem examined must be clearly presented and appropriately delimited. It must be demonstrated that the project will extend existing knowledge and/or will be a basis for further research within the field.
  3. It must be demonstrated that the methods and theories proposed are well suited to answering the problem or that there are good opportunities to develop the method and theory necessary. Analytical methods must be described.
  4. Research ethics should be assessed. The application must state whether the project depends on permission from research ethics committees or other authorities or from private persons (such as informants, patients or parents). If possible, such permissions should be obtained and attached to the application.
  5. Applicants must assess whether the research project involves processing of personal data.
  6. The description must specify a progress plan for the various parts of the research project, including any possible stays abroad.
  7. A plan for the training component and academic dissemination.
  8. Establish a budget with respect to the expenses for conducting the project: software, books, courses, data collection, fieldwork and the like.
  9. Details of any intellectual property agreements that have been entered into with a third party.
  10. It should be demonstrated that the project can be completed within the standard length of time and the financial framework available.

English language requirements

Good proficiency in English is required for participants in the PhD programme. Applicants may be asked to document their proficiency in English using the following tests with the results stipulated or better:

  • TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language with a minimum score of 575 on the Paper-Based Test (PBT), or 90 on the Internet-Based Test (IBT). Minimum 4.5 in the written test
  • IELTS-International English Language Testing Service with an overall score of at least 6.5 and a minimum score of 5.5 in all four components

Language of the thesis

If the applicant wishes to write the thesis in a language other than English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish, an application to do so must be submitted along with the study plan.

Admission agreement

Agreement on admission to the PhD Programme

Admission to the PhD education at the faculty applies for three or four years, depending on wheter compulsory work is a part of the plan for funding. All admitted candidates must sign a written agreement. The agreement is sent to the candidate with the letter of admission and must be returned to the faculty completed and signed within a month.

How to fill out the Agreement

The agreement consists of three parts

Part A. General part

Part A shall be signed by the candidate, head of department and the faculty (Dean).

Part B. Agreement concerning supervision

Part B will be signed by the candidate, the supervisor or supervisors, the head of department and the faculty (Dean).

Part C. Agreement between an external institution and the university

Part C is used only for candidates who either have external financing or whose place of work is not the University of Bergen. The agreement may also be used for candidates whose place of work is at another department/faculty/centre at the University of Bergen than that assigned in part A. Part C must be signed by the candidate, the external party and the faculty (Dean).

The candidate must ensure the relevant parts of the agreement are signed by the supervisor/supervisors, the head of department and any external party if necessary before it is sent to the faculty. The Dean signs for the University of Bergen. The original version of the agreement is registered electronically at the faculty and is returned to the candidate. The other parties to the agreement keep a copy of the signed agreement.

PhD candidates employed at the University of Bergen shall also sign a contract with the University of Bergen concerning financial rights to use the research results obtained while working at the University of Bergen. Entering into this agreement takes place on employment as a research fellow.