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PhD Programs in Hungary

by Dr Nathalie Mather-L’Huillier

An emerging study abroad destination, Hungary is committed to educational attainment from primary education upwards. It is determined to become an education hub and while its universities are still low in the rankings (although four are in the top 700), the Hungarian higher education sector has grown over the years (quite an achievement considering a background of severe population decline).

Hungarian universities have considerably expanded their offering of postgraduate programmes in English to attract international students, but higher education is fairly diverse in Hungary so it is recommended that you do your research before choosing an institution.

Higher education

The higher education landscape in Hungary is divided between public and private higher education institutions. Most accredited institutions, which comprise universities, business schools, schools of management and arts colleges/academies offer masters programmes. A number of foreign institutions are also present. It is recommended that you check whether the institution is a bona fide educational establishment through the relevant authorities of the institution’s country of origin.

Hungarian universities follow the Bologna three-tier system: Bachelor (three years), Master (one-two years), Doctorate (three-four years).

Fees and scholarships

Tuition fees

PhD students in Hungary can be divided in two categories on the basis of their funding:

  • Funded.
    The student is awarded a scholarship from the institution, although the funding may come from the Hungarian Government, the institution itself or industry/private sector partners.
    PhD students can expect a monthly stipend and funding which may be used to cover research costs, conference attendance and publication costs. No tuition fees are applied.
    Note that a number of scholarships offered by institutions will be open to restricted groups of students only(EU-only or target countries).
  • Self-financed.
    The student is funded through personal resources or a scholarship they obtained themselves. In this case, tuition fees will have to be paid, as will living costs. Research costs may be self-financed (including if they are allocated as part of external scholarships secured by the student), or may be covered from research projects at the institution.

Tuition fees are not regulated at national level and you’ll find considerable variation, including in the currency used to publish those fees (in Hungarian Forint, US Dollar or Euro), or whether the fees are per year or per semester. For PhD degrees, the average tuition fees are €3,000/semester (with a range between €1,200/semester to €6,000/semester).

Erasmus Mundus programmes, while they offer scholarship options, will be subject to their own tuition fees. Check the individual Erasmus Mundus programme information.

Other costs

PhD students may have to pay a registration fee which varies considerably between and within institutions, from €40-800. You may also have to pay for a student card. Health insurance will also be required (see our Student's Guide to Living in Hungary).


  • University and government scholarships and bursaries.
    A small number of grants are available to foreign students, and higher education institutions may offer a small number of scholarships (sometimes including cost of living support) such as the Central European University which offers full and partial scholarships.
    The Hungarian Scholarship Board Office announces university and research scholarships for each academic year and also summer school scholarships.
    Government scholarships for foreign students from target countries are also available with deadline in early April annually.
  • Joint-PhDs and Erasmus Mundus
  • The Council on International Educational Exchange have grants available for American students to study abroad:
  • Fund for Education Abroad
  • Rotary Foundation Fellowships may be available. Candidates should contact the Rotary Foundation within their district for more information.
  • Fulbright (US citizens only) scholarships.

PhD structure

PhD programmes are most often delivered within doctoral schools which provide subject-specific and generic training for PhD students. You will be expected to attend compulsory and optional courses, and gain credits, in research methods and statistics, depending on your subject area.

Essentially, PhD students are involved in their own research but also in ongoing research projects, improving the research performance of their institution and being part of the research community. PhD students may also participate in teaching, which helps to develop their personal and professional experience.

Often, and based on your research project, an individual schedule will be set up under the guidance of your supervisor. PhD students begin their studies and research activities with a personalised work plan which allows their progress to be monitored. You will also be encouraged to participate in as many national and international scientific events as possible and to present papers. Kaposvar University has a handy timetable which gives an indication of the milestones which PhD students will be expected to reach.

The official language of instruction is Hungarian, but many institutions operate in English for their research activity. StudyinEurope have a handy database of programmes delivered in English by Hungarian institutions (opt for 'third cycle' in your search).

In order to complete a PhD successfully, you may have to submit a number of documents in addition to your doctoral dissertation and its electronic version:

  • Documents used for the preparation of the thesis (lab books, transcripts of interviews etc.)
  • A statement by the candidate that he/she has not had an unsuccessful degree procedure (in the same discipline) within the previous two years.
  • A detailed professional CV.
  • Minutes of any supervisory discussion of the dissertation.
  • Statements by co-authors, if any.
  • A written statement by  the academic adviser on the candidate’s publication activity.

The dissertation is likely to be defended publicly before a review committee. This may include a presentation of the thesis and a Q&A session by members of the committee and anyone else attending the defence.

Entry requirements and admission

The academic year in Hungary begins in September/October. Deadlines for applying can vary considerably so be sure to check with your institution.

Entry requirements and application process

For entry onto PhD, a Masters degree is expected, although you may also be required to have a distinction. Decisions on applications are made on the basis of:

  • Your academic performance (including your grade point average, if relevant).
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, for courses delivered in English or a Hungarian language certificate if you are opting for a subject area likely to be in Hungarian.
  • A recent literature review of your subject area.
  • A research outline of your project.
  • Evidence of professional or academic experience in your subject area (such as technical skills or publications).
  • Your CV.
  • Recommendation letters which may be stipulated to be from an expert in your field of research.
  • Other faculty-specific requirements, if applicable.

To apply for a PhD at universities in Hungary, you will be asked to complete the procedure directly through the university by email or online. Note that some institutions may also require you to attend an interview.

You can expect to have to provide:

  • A completed application form.
  • Diplomas and transcripts.
  • A CV.
  • Evidence of professional experience, if required.
  • Recommendation letters.
  • An application fee (€50-200).

Careers and employment

Universities have career services that can advise you on employment opportunities. They will have local knowledge of the labour market in Hungary and Eastern Europe, so if you intend on staying after your studies it is worth consulting with them. Unemployment has been at its lowest in the last two years. Opportunities for work in local companies may be limited but international companies are heavily present in Hungary so there may be opportunities there. If you require a visa to study in Hungary, check what the post-study employment situation is.

PhD programmes in Hungary

To find out what programmes are available in Hungary, check the FindAPhD database.

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