When it comes to academic heritage, Greece is hard to beat. The ancient Platonic school at Akademia in Athens (established circa 387 BC) was one of the first and most significant institutions of higher learning in the world. Modern higher education in Greece draws on this classical heritage, making it a unique and striking option for international PhD study.
This page details everything you will need to know as an international student choosing to study your PhD in Greece this year. It includes an overview of the country’s university history, the types of Greek institution, how much it will cost to study for a doctorate and what you will need to do to successfully apply for one.
With a Mediterranean climate, beautiful landscapes and an unrivalled selection of UNESCO-world heritage sites (18), Greece is a spectacular place to live during a doctorate. With the academic heritage and vibrant research centres, Greece is popular amongst international students.
These are a few reasons to consider a PhD in Greece this year:
|Oldest University||The University of Athens (1837)|
|Typical Fees||Variable (public institutions)|
|Academic Year||September to August|
Greek higher education is rich with history, with famous Ancient Greek schools like Aristotle’s Lyceum originally founded in the city of Athens.
Today Greek universities use a more modern infrastructure, but Athens is still the major student hub in the south of Greece. Higher education is not limited to Athens, however, there are many higher education institutions across the Greek mainland and islands for you to choose from.
The Greek university system is organised into two different pathways:
As a PhD student you will be interested in the University Sector, postgraduate education is offered by the Technology Sector, but tends to be restricted to Masters-level degrees.
The institutions in the Greek University Sector are publically run and state accredited. The Greek Ministry of Education is responsible for establishing guidelines and provisions for universities, with periodic inspection and advisory work conducted by the Hellenic Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.
The prestige of Greece’s scholarly heritage and its growing popularity with international students has lead to several foreign universities setting up overseas campuses there.
The Greek government allows these to operate freely, subject to registration with the Greek Ministry of Education.
Most are typically small colleges specialising in fields that benefit from their Greek location. Not all branch campuses offer doctoral programmes, but they can be an attractive option for students looking for English language.
The Hellenic Open University is located in the city of Patras. It was founded in 1992 and is the only distance learning university in Greece.
As an international PhD student, it is likely you will choose campus-based study over distance learning. However, the Hellenic Open university can award doctoral degrees in line with the regulations of higher education institutions set by the Greek Government.
There are only a small number of universities within Greece, but a high proportion of them are recognised within global rankings. Below is a table of the highest-ranked Greek universities:
|University||THE 2020||QS 2020||ARWU 2019|
|University of Crete||351-400||751-800||701-800|
|National and Kapodistrian University of Athens||501-600||651-700||301-400|
|Aristotle University of Thessaloniki||601-800||561-570||401-500|
|University of Ioannina||601-800||-||801-900|
|National Technical University of Athens||601-800||=454||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.|
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.
The Bologna Process brings together a range of countries to form the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Members of the EHEA share a common three-cycle framework that allows degrees from one country to be easily recognised within others.
Higher education in Greece is divided into four scientific fields: Humanities, Law and Social Sciences; Natural and Technological Sciences; Health and Life Sciences and Sciences of Economy and Informatics.
There are two types of PhD in Greece, which one you choose will be dependant upon your previous qualifications:
The traditional PhD programme is more common. However, the majority of Greek institutions won’t advertise projects, instead it is more common for students to apply with a research proposal setting out their own project ideas.
The Greek academic year runs for a full 12-months from September-August. The academic period is divided into two semesters similarly to the UK, with holiday periods at Christmas and Easter and a long summer vacation during June and July.
To conform with the European Bologna Process System the minimum length of study for a PhD is set at 3-years full-time.
The actual length of time for a PhD varies significantly depending upon your academic departments. For Technical and Applied Science subjects this is typically 3-years, whilst in Social Sciences and Arts average times for doctoral studies are 4-6 years.
For the “American system” PhD programmes within Greece you will spend the first three years completing lectures and seminars related to your research. Your research project will begin in your second year, with the first year being similar to a Masters course, awarding a Masters qualification. Your research project will end via submission of a thesis.
Students researching a traditional PhD will focus on their research and will spend the 3-years working towards a thesis, without additional teaching components.
The Department’s General Assembly will appoint one supervisor for each doctoral candidate. Your supervisor’s main duty is to provide mentoring and guidance during the writing of your dissertation.
Your supervisor will be one of three members of the Academic Advisory Committee appointed for the assessment processes of your PhD.
Occasionally higher education institutions collaborate with research centres like the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens for supervision of dissertations.
The main outcome of a Greek PhD is an independent doctoral thesis, detailing your original research. Upon completion you will be required to submit a request to your Advisory Committee for the public support and evaluation of this work.
If accepted your Advisory Committee will submit an introductory report to the Department’s General Assembly asking for the appointment of a seven-member committee to evaluate your thesis.
The public support requests the presence of 4-members of the committee, the other 3-members may attend over a teleconference call. The committee asses the quality of your thesis, inclusiveness, originality and contribution to science. You must acquire the assent of five-members to accredit your Degree with the qualitive description: Good, Very Good or Excellent.
Students following “American system” PhDs will also be assessed as they complete taught units during their first three-years. This will be measured using the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). After this the assessment follows the same pattern as a traditional PhD.
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) provides a standard measurement for academic progress and achievement across a range of different national university systems. A 3-year Greek PhD is worth 180 ECTS credits, the "Amercian System" incorporated-Masters programme is worth 300.
Though higher education is free for Greek and EU nationals studying on undergraduate (first cycle) courses, the situation for foreign students on postgraduate programmes is more variable.
Non-Greek nationals may have to pay towards the cost of their education; however, EU citizens may be eligible for reduced rates. Typically, non-EU students pay an average of €1,500 per year.
As institutions are free to set their own fees there is no clear guideline figure for PhD fees in Greece, institutional websites and admissions departments will be able to provide you with up to date information and confirm what fees will (or wont!) apply in your case.
Within a high number of Greek institutions, PhD programmes have an associated scholarship scheme, which means you will not pay tuition fees.
If your PhD incurs no fees (or you are entitled to a partial waiver) you may still need funding to support your living costs . Thankfully a range of funding options exist for international students:
For information on working whilst studying consult our Living in Greece guide here on FindAPhD.
There is no centralised application service for doctoral research in Greece. You must apply to your chosen university directly, and the requirements for applications vary between institutions.
Individual institutions define their own entrance requirements for doctoral candidates (Ypopsifioi Didaktores), therefore there will be some variations.
You will usually be required to hold a Masters degree in order to apply for a traditional (research-focussed) PhD. Students from countries outside of the EU will need to obtain recognition of their qualifications.
Exceptional candidates without a Masters may be enrolled in the 4-5-year “American system PhD”. You cannot apply for the traditional 3-year PhD without a Masters degree.
Most university teaching is carried out in Greek and candidates who are admitted must hold a certificate in proficiency of the Greek Language.
If you don’t hold a certificate you can complete the Greek Language exams in Greece:
However, a push towards internationalisation has resulted in English-language programmes becoming increasingly common at postgraduate level. If you are to complete your thesis in English as a second-language you will have to complete an Enlgish proficiency test .
All Greek institutions will have their own application procedure and it is best to check this in advance. Most will require you to submit some or all of the following:
You should submit your application to the Secretary of the department you are applying to research your PhD within.
Interviews are often a formal requirement for PhD applications in Greece. The department you apply to will appoint a committee to assess prospective doctoral candidates. They will examine your application materials before potentially inviting you to an interview.
This will be conducted in front of the whole committee and will give you the opportunity to discuss your research ideas.
International interviews may be conducted in person or over a web chat service such as Skype.
Visa and immigration requirements for PhD study in Greece will depend upon your nationality.
Citizens of the EU/EEA will not usually require a visa to enter Greece for study. However, you will need to get a residence permit to remain in the country longer than three months.
Students from other countries will need to apply for a type D visa in order to enter Greece. Within 40 days after your arrival you will be required to upgrade this to a residence permit at the Migration department for a fee of €150.
The consulate of Greece requires applicants to apply directly at their local Greek embassy for a visa. You will be required to provide the following:
All students at higher education institutions in Greece are entitled to free healthcare coverage. This includes medical examinations, hospital treatment, dental care and physiotherapy.
For this you will need a personal health insurance booklet which will be issued to you when you register at university.
The Greek education system is committed to internalisation and participates fully in the European Higher Education Area. As a result, you will stand in good stead for an academic career at universities around the world.
The regulations for working in Greece vary depending upon your nationality. Members of the EU/EEA have the right to live and work in Greece without restriction.
Students of other nationalities will need a work permit to work in Greece. You should apply for this as soon as possible as permits can be difficult to acquire and student visas cannot typically be extended.
Last updated - 03/10/2019