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PhD Study in Israel

by Charlotte Griffiths

You’ve probably heard of Silicon Valley in California, but did you know that Israel is home to Silicon Wadi?

Based in Tel Aviv, the Middle East’s tech industry hub is booming with engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators in technology. As a result, Israel has the second highest number of tech start-ups per capita in the world (after the United States).

Israel is geographically small, but excitingly diverse: offering everything from cosmopolitan cities and ancient and religious heritage sites to beautiful beaches and sea so salty you can float in it.

Perhaps it’s no wonder that PhD study in Israel attracts doctoral students from around the world.

We've put together a detailed advice guide on everything you need to know about PhD study in Israel. Alternatively, you can get the ball rolling straight away by searching here for Israeli PhDs.

Why study a PhD in Israel?

Israel's economy is considered one of the most durable among other developed nations and has also been ranked number one in development and research centre investments.

The most popular disciplines for PhD study are the sciences, engineering and humanities. Public research and development is carried out primarily at the universities and the advancement of basic scientific knowledge is the prime objective of researchers at Israel's tertiary institutions.

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.

What’s it like to study a PhD in Israel?

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 focus on the production of a thesis offering 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. The majority of people who study in Israel will actually take classes that are taught in English.

Universities in Israel

Israel is home to seven public universities and you can study a PhD at any one of them.

All of Israel’s universities are well-ranked within global league tables. Most are also recognised as specialist research centres in specific fields – making them perfect for advanced PhD study.

  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Home to Israel's National Library and offers a range of faculties, with research opportunities in all major academic fields.
  • Tel Aviv University - The largest university in Israel. Research specialisms include energy studies, health systems management and technological forecasting.
  • Weizmann Institute of Science – A renowned research centre, focusing on physics, chemistry, mathematics, and life sciences. Only offers postgraduate-level degrees.
  • Technion – Israel Institute of Technology - A key science and engineering centre. Plays an essential role in advancing Israel’s industrial development and has trained many of the country’s architects and engineers.
  • Ben-Gurion University – Specialises in the development of Israel’s desert regions. Responsible for major contributions in desert zone habitat and climate research as well as associated branches of medicine and infrastructure.
  • University of Haifa - Primarily focusses on the socio-cultural understanding and development of the Middle Eastern region. Includes a centre dedicated to the advancement of cooperation between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
  • Bar-Ilan University – Offers postgraduate training in a range of fields, including heritage studies, theology and the social sciences. Emphasises a combination of traditional understanding and modern technological development.

The Times Higher Education World Rankings 2015-16
University THE World Ranking THE Asia Region
Hebrew University of Jerusalem 178 25
Tel Aviv University 201-250 22
Technion Israel Institute of Technology 251-300 31
Bar-Ilan University 401-450 75
Ben-Gurion University of Negev 501-600 -
University of Haifa 501-600 -

Information in this table is based on the 2015-16 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and Asia University Rankings 2015.Visit their websites for more information.

The QS University World Rankings: Israel
University QS World Ranking
Hebrew University of Jerusalem 148
Technion Israel Institute of Technology 198
Tel Aviv University 203
Ben-Gurion University of Negev 259
Bar-Ilan University 601-650
University of Haifa 701+

Information in this table is based on the 2015-16 QS World University Rankings Visit their websites for more information.

Do rankings matter for PhDs? – International rankings can be a great help when choosing a university. But you'll need to know what to pay attention to (and what not to!) as a PhD student. Our sister site,, has a helpful guide to international rankings for postgraduates.

Unique study opportunities

Though much of its research is directed towards engineering and the sciences, Israel also has many well-known senior lecturers with other unique specialties.

This means the country offers unique study opportunities focussing on areas such as: trauma treatment, holocaust studies, Judaism, Middle Eastern studies, agriculture, terrorism, emergency and disaster, immigration and more.

Among the faculty of Weizmann Institute and the Technion there are also some Nobel Prize laureates and other notable scientific figures.

If you wish to learn or develop your ability to speak another language whilst in Israel, summer programmes are offered to learn Yiddish and Arabic, and Ulpan courses to learn Hebrew.

What’s involved in an Israeli PhD?

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 4 years. However, some universities tend to set a period that varies between 4 – 6 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.

How are they examined?

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 chapters thesis, which is composed of independent chapters that are the results of the same research project and that evidence a clear connection among them. The chapters 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 sciences are normally approx. 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 4 - 6 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.

Applying for a PhD in Israel

You should apply for directly to your chosen university for PhD study in Israel as there is 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 an advisor before submitting a formal application. It is recommended that students consult with a graduate studies coordinator in their 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:

  • Diplomas of eligibility of a Bachelors and Masters degree (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 letter or declaration of intent
  • At least two referees who can provide recommendations (one recommendation being from the dissertation advisor for your Master’s 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 also normally requires a non-refundable registration fee of around US $125 - 140 (£86 - 95).

Research proposal

Once these requirements have been met, you will need to put together a research proposal which 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 however, such as Tel Aviv University, 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. However, the below dates can be used a guide:

  • May 1st - to begin PhD studies in October in the non-experimental sciences
  • July 1st - to begin PhD studies in October in the experimental sciences
  • November 1st - to begin PhD studies in the 2nd semester (February/March)

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 3 - 5 months, make sure you leave enough time to apply for your student visa as well.

Student visas for PhD study in Israel

Most nationalities do not require a visa for visits to Israel that are shorter than 3 months. However, students intending to stay for longer 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 whilst 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 approximately US $29 (£20). 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 within your tuition fees so you will need to check with the institution.

PhD fees and funding in Israel

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

How much does it cost

Although Israeli PhD tuition fees vary, here is an example of charges that can be expected at some Israeli universities:

  • Weizmann Institute of Science - charges no tuition fees for their doctoral programmes.
  • Tel Aviv University – around US $1,050 (£725) per year until submission of research proposal (generally up to 18 months). After submission, tuition is around US $1,580 (£1,100) per year.
  • Technion Israel Institute of Technology - around US $2,500 (£1,700) per year.

It is common for Israeli universities to offer funding support through scholarships, maintenance grants or tuition waivers to their PhD students. However, this is not guaranteed, so you will need to check with your chosen institution regarding the cost of their PhD programmes.

Funding available

A large amount of postgraduate funding in Israel is offered by universities through general international scholarships. These are awarded to students from all nationalities and many are not limited to specific programmes.

For example, Bar Ilan University offers President Scholarships, among others, worth US $10,600 (£7,200).

However, some Israeli universities also offer programme-specific scholarships to specialised areas of interest. For example the University of Haifa offers scholarships to cover full or partial tuition fees if studies are based on Israel or the Middle East.

Government scholarships

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 government’s website .

After graduation: careers and opportunities with an Israeli PhD

Much of Israel’s employment opportunity is within high technology areas 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 Ministy 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.

Ready to start searching for 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 - 19/05/2016

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