Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

More Integrated PhDs will improve study progress

Even though Health will avoid a study progress reform fine in 2017, the research year at medicine still poses challenges for the faculty’s financial situation. For this reason, the number of research year students will in future be linked to the students' study progress. At the same time, the faculty management team also wishes to see more students begin their PhD programme already at Master's degree level.

2017.11.14 | Ulla Krag Jespersen

The faculty management team view the Integrated PhD scheme as a good alternative to the research year. Students can both immerse themselves in research during the Master’s degree programme and begin a PhD programme quicker. At the same time, Health can avoid a study progress reform fine because the Integrated PhD does not count towards study progress. Photo: Lars Kruse

How can the research-orientated activities at medicine be maintained and developed, when there is simultaneously a requirement to improve study progress? This was the central question that the faculty management team asked themselves in a discussion that focused in particular on the research year and the opportunity to get more students to begin their PhD already while taking a Master’s degree programme.

As the first specific initiative, the faculty management team has decided to in future admit as many research year students as possible, without the faculty later risking a study progress reform fine. This means that the number of places on the research year may vary from year to year – depending on the current state of study progress. In practice, the Dean's Office will use forecasts on study progress as the basis for determining admission and will then publish the number in good time before the half-yearly call for applications.

In order to further embed student research at Health, the faculty management team has furthermore decided to initiate an information campaign about the opportunities for taking an Integrated PhD. An Integrated PhD programme allows the students to immerse themselves even further in research during their degree programme and begin a PhD earlier. For Health, the benefit is that the Integrated PhD does not count towards the study progress and that the faculty will still receive a completion bonus.

Currently, 89 out of the almost 600 PhD students at Health are enrolled in the Integrated PhD scheme.

In a new survey carried out by the Graduate School of Health, students named a range of advantages with the Integrated PhD scheme. These include the many career opportunities arising from becoming part of a research group at an early stage; the opportunity to improve their skills at a higher level than fellow students; and a salary which means they do not have to work alongside their studies, but can instead spend their time carrying out research.

The survey also describes the challenges faced by students on the scheme, where it can be difficult to balance the role of ordinary student and PhD student, including prioritising working time and dedicating themselves equally to studying and research. Lack of experience can also be a problem, as there is a big difference between being a student and managing your own research project.

Read the complete survey of the Integrated PhD scheme at Health (in Danish)


In a forecast from the spring, Health was facing the threat of study progress reform fine totalling DKK 28 million in 2020, because the students – in particular those at medicine – are taking too long to complete their degree programme. Several analyses show that it is the research year in particular which prolongs degree completion time.

The adjustment of the rules on study progress has meant that Health will avoid a fine in 2017 and 2018, but there is still the prospect of a financial penalty in the years 2019-2021 unless action is taken.


With an Integrated PhD, talented students at Health can already begin their PhD programme while they are Master’s degree students. The Integrated PhD scheme consists of a three-year full-time PhD programme, of which the first year must be completed before the student has gained his or her Master's degree.

The scheme is divided into two. During Part A, the student is both a Master’s degree student and a PhD student, and must complete the equivalent of a one year full-time-PhD degree programme concurrently with the Master’s degree programme. During Part B, the student is only a PhD student, and must complete the equivalent of a two-year full-time PhD degree programme.

Read more about the Integrated PhD scheme (PDF)

Research, Administration (Academic), Academic staff, Department of Biomedicine, Health, Talent development, Health and disease, Technical / administrative staff, Department of Clinical Medicine, Health