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PhD Study in Israel - A Guide for 2019

Israel is ranked number one in the world for investment in research and development, which helps explain its appeal for PhD students. Israel’s cosmopolitan cities, ancient heritage sites and stunning beaches make for an unforgettable country in which to study your PhD.

We’ve put together a detailed advice guide on everything you need to know about PhD study in Israel, from fees and funding to student visas and applications. You can also start by browsing Israeli PhDs right now.

PhD opportunities in Israel – what’s on offer for 2019?

Around 1,300 doctoral students complete a PhD each year in Israel, and the country’s exceptional education and research facilities have made it a popular option for international students.

Israel is a dynamic and diverse nation with a booming tech industry and a reputation for entrepreneurialism. From hip Tel Aviv to the sacred sites of Jerusalem, Israel has much to offer adventurous doctoral students.

These are just a handful of the reasons to study a PhD in Israel this year:

  • Investment in research – Israel spends more on research and development than any other country, relatively speaking
  • Start-up culture – Israel has the highest number of start-ups per capita in the world, with many innovative tech companies based in Tel Aviv
  • International outlook – Most PhD programmes in Israel are taught entirely in English
  • Tuition fees – PhD tuition fees are usually waived by universities

PhD Study in Israel - Key Details
Universities 9
Nobel Prizes 12
Oldest University Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (1912)
International Students 10,471
PhD Length 4-6 years
Representative Fees Usually waived
Academic Year October to August

Israeli universities

There are nine universities in Israel, all of which are publicly-funded and benefit from the country’s investment in research. These institutions are where you’ll study your PhD – Israel’s various private and public colleges don’t award doctoral degrees.

Even though Arabic and Hebrew are Israel’s official languages, English is a compulsory subject at school and also the language of instruction for almost all PhD programmes.

University rankings

Israel’s universities perform well in global rankings and most are recognised as specialist research centres.


Top 5 Israeli Universities in 2020
University THE 2020 QS 2020 ARWU 2019
Tel Aviv University =189 =219 151-200
Hebrew University of Jerusalem 201-250 162 101-150
Technion Israel Institute of Technology 401-500 =257 85
Bar-Ilan University 501-600 551-560 401-500
University of Haifa 501-600 651-700 601-700
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

Do rankings matter for PhD study?

University rankings can help you choose a PhD project or programme, provided you know what to look at. Our guide explains how to use rankings as a prospective postgraduate.

PhD structure

Doctorate degrees in Israel are generally similar to those in other parts of the world, particularly Europe and North America.

As in other countries, a PhD in Israel is the highest level of academic qualification a student can achieve.

These degrees involve producing a thesis that offers an original and significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge in its field.

Studying a PhD in Israel does not require international students to have an understanding of Hebrew or Arabic. Most people who study in Israel will actually take classes that are taught in English.

Programme structure

The key objective of the PhD studies is to conduct original research, whether theoretical or experimental.

Students must prove that they are capable of carrying out a large-scale study of value to the academic community. This research should aim to significantly advance knowledge and understanding in the field and to be worthy of publication in a journal.

An Israeli PhD may involve some formal training and preparation before you commence independent research. Your supervisor will likely recommend a few courses for you to take as well as suggesting relevant books and articles for you to consult.

You will submit a research proposal that defines your project; this may be required prior to the formal application. If satisfactory your proposal will be approved by the university’s academic committee and you will begin work on your PhD topic.

Alternatively, some universities will accept your formal application without a research proposal as it will not be required until after the first year of study.

Once your place on the PhD programme is approved you may also try to apply for funding in the form of a fellowship or a grant.

How long is a PhD in Israel?

The common duration of doctoral study in Israel is four years. However, some universities tend to set a period that varies between four and six years.

The duration of studies is generally field specific, where typical progression towards a doctorate tends to be longer in the humanities and the social sciences than in the natural sciences and engineering.

Assessment and examination

A PhD in Israel is examined entirely on the quality of the thesis you submit and will be the main focus of your study.

Some universities in Israel may allow for a doctoral thesis to be written in one of the two following formats, although the first is most common:

  • A thesis which is a continuous coherent composition, written by the student with the guidance of the supervisor, which presents the research in its entirety.
  • A chapter-based thesis, which is composed of independent chapters that are the results of the same research project and that show a clear connection among them. The chapter-based thesis must indicate that the student is the primary or major researcher and writer of the work, under the guidance of the supervisor.

PhD theses on non-experimental subjects are normally approximately 250 pages or 100,000 words in length. Theses on experimental sciences, however, are normally just 100 pages or 40,000 words in length.

Theses will normally be evaluated by two referees and the academic supervisor. The process of the appointment of referees, the evaluation and the discussion of the evaluations might take between four and six months.

The examining referees are normally required to submit their written opinion within three months after receipt of the thesis for evaluation. Unlike in other countries, an Israeli PhD does not normally involve an oral exam or ‘viva voce’.

It is advised that PhD students who need a complete approval of their degree for a post-doc position or a job submit their thesis as early as possible.

Fees and funding

In Israel there is no standard tuition fee or cap for PhD study: individual universities set their own. These fees vary according to programme type, subject area and university policy amongst others. In fact, most universities actually waive tuition fees completely.

It’s common for Israeli universities to offer funding support through scholarships and maintenance grants to their PhD students. However, you’re not guaranteed to receive this kind of support, so you should always check with your chosen institution regarding the cost of their PhD programmes.

Funding

There are several different funding options open to international PhD students in Israel. Universities offer a range of different scholarships to attract the brightest and best candidates from around the world. Some scholarships are aimed at students from particular regions and countries, while others are open to all.

The Israeli government offers full and partial scholarships to foreign students for one academic year of research studies.

In addition to covering your tuition fees in part or full, the scholarship also gives students a monthly allowance for one academic year, as well as basic health insurance cover.

For more details on the application process for a full or partial international scholarship, visit the Israeli government’s website. Alternatively, visit the Study in Israel website for more information on scholarships and funding in Israel.

Applying for a PhD in Israel

You should apply for directly to your chosen university for PhD study in Israel, as there’s no centralised application service.

What are the requirements for a PhD in Israel?

To study a PhD in Israel, students are required to hold an appropriate Masters degree with a very good dissertation or thesis. Most Israeli universities will also require a good grade average across your studies such as a B grade or 3.5 GPA.

However, exact requirements are set by the individual university and department and may be quite specific to match the expertise of the Israeli institution.

Although uncommon, some Israeli universities offer ‘direct doctoral programmes’, which are aimed at exceptional undergraduate students with excellent grades. The first year of PhD study is then an accelerated Masters programme.

Finding a supervisor

Candidates for a PhD study are required to find a supervisor before submitting a formal application. To do this, you should begin by contacting a graduate studies coordinator in your prospective university department.

If the faculty members and student agree that there is a good match for a supervisor, then the candidate makes a formal application to the departmental doctoral committee.

Supporting documents

For the faculty to determine whether you are a good match with a supervisor, you will need to submit the following documentation:

  • Bachelors and Masters degree certificates (translated to English or Hebrew)
  • A certified and official transcript of each of your degrees, including the Grade Point Average (GPA) or similar
  • Your CV
  • A copy of your thesis
  • A statement of purpose
  • Proof of your English proficiency
  • At least two referees who can provide recommendations (one recommendation being from the dissertation advisor for your Masters degree)

Formal application and interview

Once you have submitted your supporting documents and have had a prospective supervisor confirmed by the university department, you can submit a formal application.

Following this, the department will schedule an interview with the departmental doctoral committee either in person or through Skype. The committee will evaluate you and your application, and will inform you of their decision soon after the interview process.

Applying for a PhD in Israel sometimes requires a non-refundable application fee of around USD $140.

Research proposal

Once these requirements have been met, you will need to put together a research proposal that will outline your project’s aims and planned methodology.

Individual universities will require the research proposals at different stages, however. For some it may be part of the application process. For others, the research proposal may not be required until the end of the first year of PhD study.

How do I write a PhD research proposal?

The research proposal is an important part of any PhD application, regardless of where you choose to study. Take a look at our guide for some tips and advice on putting yours together.

Application deadlines

Individual universities in Israel set different application deadlines for PhD candidates. In fact, some universities are open for PhD applications all year round.

How long will an application take?

All PhD applications require significant thought and time to ensure that you have fully understood your research plans and study objectives.

The university will need to consider the research proposal as well as your qualifications, referees and transcripts which can all take some time.

While this process may take between three and five months, make sure you leave enough time to apply for your student visa as well.

Student visas

Most nationalities do not require a visa for visits to Israel that are shorter than three months. However, students intending to stay for longer than this, such as PhD candidates, will need to apply for an A2 student visa.

The A2 visa allows for multiple entrances and exits to and from Israel so you can return home while studying your PhD. However, the A2 visa is only valid for up to 12 months, so you will need to have your visa renewed for each additional year of study while you are in Israel.

Visa application

When applying for your A2 student visa, you will need to present the following documents to your local Israeli embassy or consulate:

  • A completed application form
  • At least two current passport photos
  • An original letter of acceptance from an Israeli university
  • Passport valid for more than one year
  • A return flight ticket or itinerary
  • Proof of sufficient funds to financially support yourself while studying in Israel

There is a non-refundable administrative processing fee of USD $47. The processing time is approximately 2 weeks.

Working in Israel as a PhD student

Student visas do not allow international students to work while studying in Israel, so it will be necessary for you to arrive with means to sufficiently support yourself financially.

Health insurance

International students are required to have health cover for the duration of their studies.

However, your chosen university may include health insurance as part of its support package for international students.

Next steps

Much of Israel’s employment opportunities are within technology sectors such as engineering, software, electronics, biomedical, telecommunications and other similar industries.

If you wish to stay in Israel after completing a PhD, you will need to apply for a B1 Work visa. This is awarded by the Ministry of the Interior to experts in their chosen field and allows for an international to stay in Israel to work.

Alternatively, your university’s careers adviser will be able to assist you with local industry knowledge and possible opportunities.

Find a PhD in Israel

Decided that Israel is the right destination for your PhD? Why not get started browsing some Israeli PhDs? Alternatively, you can look at our other guides to PhD study abroad.

Last updated - 03/10/2019

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