Faculty of Social Sciences

Admission requirements

To be admitted to the PhD programme, the applicant’s education, project description and plan to complete the doctoral education must be approved and adequate financing must be in place. The plan should outline both the research project and the training module.

Applicants who are appointed a research fellowship at the Faculty of Social Sciences will consequently be admitted to the doctoral education. Applicants with other sources of funding must relate to the following process:

On admission, the candidate is assigned a relevant department. However, a prerequisite for admission is that the department concerned has the skills and capacity to supervise the candidate. In addition, the academic milieu (the applicable supervisor) should participate actively in drawing up the project description and designing the doctoral education for the candidate.

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.

It is a requirement that the master’s degree has a theoretical-empirical focus. A practice-focused or “experience-based” master’s degree that does not meet the requirements regarding preparation for research that form the basis for admission cannot be approved.

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 relevant 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)      includes adequate and relevant training in methods, and

4)      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, 3 and 4 above.

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 5–10 pages. 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. The Faculty has prepared a guide for writing project descriptions.

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.

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.