Denmark

RegionNorthern Europe
CapitalCopenhagen
LanguageDanish
Faroese
Greenlandic
German
Population5,822,763
Expenditure on higher education3,9 %
Unemployment4,88 %
EuroUniversities in top 1001
EuroUniversities in top 2504
EuroUniversities in top 5006
EuroUniversities in top 10006
Students145,900
Foreigner students4,8 %
Enrollment rate in higher education80,9 %

Denmark is a Nordic country in Northwest Europe. Higher education in Denmark is offered at three levels: Short-cycle higher education, medium-cycle higher education and long-cycle higher education. The responsibility for higher education is divided between three ministries; the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, the Danish Ministry of Culture (medium and long cycle education within the area of arts) and the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Higher Education and Science is responsible for both short-cycle, medium-cycle and long-cycle programmes. The short-cycle and medium-cycle programmes are the academy profession programmes taking place at the Academies of Professional Higher Education (Erhvervsakademier) and the professional bachelor programmes taking place at the University Colleges (Professionshøjskoler). The long-cycle programmes such as the bachelor, master and PhD programmes take place at the universities.

A number of university level institutions are regulated by the Danish Ministry of Culture and offer first, second and third cycle degree programmes in subject fields such as design, music and fine and performing arts. The bachelor, master and PhD programmes at these institutions are awarded after 180, 120 and 180 ECTS, respectively. A higher education degree within theatre or filmmaking is awarded after four years of study (240 ECTS). Music Academies offer a specialist degree of 2-4 years following the master’s degree.

The academic year is normally divided in two semesters: The first starting in August/September with exams in December/January and the second starting in January/February with exams in May/June. Some programmes are divided into four shorter terms.

In 1479, King Christian I received the Pope’s permission to establish the University of Copenhagen (Københavns Universitet). And for nearly 400 years it was the only higher education institution in Denmark, but during the 19th century, a number of specialised institutions were established. These include the Technical University of Denmark (Danmarks Tekniske Universitet), the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (Den Kgl. Veterinær- og Landbohøjskole) and the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Danmarks Farmaceutiske Universitet). In the 20th century, eight new universities were added; the University of Aarhus (Aarhus Universitet), University of Southern Denmark (Syddansk Universitet), Roskilde University (Roskilde Universitetscenter), Aalborg University (Aalborg Universitet), Copenhagen Business School (Handelshøjskolen i København), Aarhus School of Business (Handelshøjskolen i Århus), the Danish University of Education (Danmarks Pædagogiske Universitet) and The IT University of Copenhagen (IT-Universitetet i København).

During 2006, a process to reduce the number of universities was started. The reason for this process was to strengthen research, education and innovation in Denmark. This has resulted in a new map of Danish universities and research institutions in 2007. Today, long-cycle higher education is concentrated at eight universities, among these three major universities where approximately 2/3 of all university activity is concentrated. The three major universities are the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and the Technical University. The last five universities are the University of Southern Denmark, Aalborg University, Roskilde University, Copenhagen Business School and the IT University of Copenhagen.

In April 2006, the former Danish government launched a new “Strategy for Denmark in the Global Economy”. The strategy contains 350 specific initiatives directed towards improving education, research and entrepreneurship and the overall conditions for growth and innovation in the society. The main objectives on the educational front are that all young people should complete a general or vocational upper secondary education program, that at least 50 % of all young people should complete a higher education program and that education and training programmes should be top quality at all levels. In the Finance Act of 2009, DKK 1,722 million was allocated to ensure that 50% of a year group is to complete an education at tertiary level (this amount is also intended to ensure that 95% completes a post-compulsory upper seconday education).

Among the key initiatives in the university sector was:

  • The basic funds of universities should be distributed according to results
  • At least 50 percent of the public research funds should be subject to open competition
  • Government research institutions should be integrated in universities
  • All university programmes should be evaluated according to international standards. A new independent accreditation body has established for that purpose
  • Systematic dialogue with employers
  • The number of PhD scholarships should be doubled
  • Special Master’s programmes for outstanding students
  • There should be a global perspective in all educations

Legislative initiatives have already been taken on several on the above initiatives.

The former government reached the policy aim of allocating 1% of GDP to research and innovation from 2010-2012. In February 2010, the former government launched a new strategy: “Denmark 2020. Knowledge, growth, prosperity and welfare”. The government listed 10 goals, which are to be met before 2020, and one of the goals is to have at least one Danish university in top 10 of European universities. Also, all Danish universities have to maintain or improve their international ranking measured in the most relevant and recognised comparisons.

Alongside the goal of having a Danish university in top 10 in Europe, the former government also wanted to improve the Danish university sector by making strong educational offers which match the needs of the society, maintain the high ambitions for research and innovation as well as maintaining and improving the work with the internationalisation of the Danish universities. In 2010, the establishment of a Danish university centre in Beijing began.

Bachelor

Branches of study

Students in Denmark obtain a bachelor’s degree through a professional bachelor’s programme or a university level bachelor’s programme. The Qualifications Framework for Danish Higher Education gives following overview of the programmes:

Formal mattersProfessional bachelor’s programmeUniversity level bachelor programme
ECTS180-240180
Further educationSome Master’s study programmes (kandidat), possibly via entrance courses, Master and Diploma study programmesMaster’s (kandidat)), Master and Diploma study programmes
Main institution typeUniversity CollegesUniversities
Knowledge baseBusiness and profession-based as well as development-basedResearch-based
European/National Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning – EQF/NQFLevel 6Level 6

Length of bachelor’s programmes

A university programme normally consists of a three-year bachelor degree programme corresponding to 180 ECTS, most often followed by a two-year programme leading to the Candidatus-degree (Master’s level) corresponding to 120 ECTS.

University Colleges offer 3- to 4-year (180-240 ECTS) professionally oriented programmes at a level corresponding to a university bachelor, the Professional Bachelor (Professionsbachelor).

Overview of branches of study for – the University bachelor’s programme

The University bachelor’s programme is research-based and provides students with a broad academic foundation as well as specialised knowledge. The degree programmes can be taken in a wide variety of different branches e.g.:

  • Humanities (history, languages, rhetoric etc.)
  • Natural sciences (physics, biology, actuarial science, etc.)
  • Social science (economics, business economics, sociology, etc.)
  • Law
  • Theology
  • Health sciences (medicine, dentistry, human biology)
  • Technical studies (engineering etc.)
  • IT (Software Development, Data Science etc.)

Overview of branches of study for – the Professional bachelor’s programme

The professional bachelor’s programmes provide students with theoretical knowledge as well as knowledge of application of theory to professions and industry. There are approximately 85 professional bachelor programmes. Professional bachelor programmes exist in the following fields:

  • Healthcare (nurse, midwife etc.)
  • Pedagogy (teacher, social education etc.)
  • Business and Economics (value chain management, finance etc.)
  • Media and communication (journalist, communication etc.)
  • Social sciences (social work, public administration etc.)
  • Design (jewellery, technology and business)
  • Maritime education programmes (marine and technical engineer, ship’s officer etc.)

Most programmes give access to further studies in the same field, e.g. a Master programme (Adult educational programme) or on certain conditions, a specific Master programme (kandidatuddannelse, third cycle).

Admission requirements

Access to higher education in Denmark varies from programme to programme. Admission to most study programmes depends on the fulfilment of both general requirements and specific requirements.

Professional bachelor’s programmeUniversity level bachelor programme
Admission requirementsA student must fulfil one of the following 3:Completion of upper secondary education with specific requirements for subjects and levelVocational training supplemented with requirements for completion of specific upper secondary school subjects and levelsAcademy profession degree or Diploma degreeCompletion of upper secondary education
Main institution typeUniversity CollegesUniversities

Upper secondary school leaving examinations (or comparable qualifications) are provided by the following programmes:

  • The Higher General Examination Programme (studentereksamen)
  • The Higher Commercial Examination programme (HHX)
  • The Higher Technical Examination (HTX)
  • The Higher Preparatory Examination Programme (HF)

Access can also depend on specific requirements such as a particular subject combination in upper secondary school or a certain level of grades. All count as qualifying examinations at upper secondary level. However, HF students will have to complete an extended study package if they wish to continue their studies on university level.

With few exceptions to the rule, it is not possible for students to be admitted to a bachelor programme if they have already completed a programme of the same or higher level in the public educational system. This rule is in force until 6 years after completion of the specific programme.

Alternative access routes

Some schools, e.g. the film school, the school of journalism etc. have their own aptitude tests. However, in general, students are granted admission on the basis of the average mark obtained at the final examination at upper secondary level.

Responsible authority

The specific admission requirements for each bachelor programme are stipulated by The Ministry of Higher Education and Science. In general, the educational institutions are responsible for regulating the size of the student population themselves, including the specific number enrolled at each program.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Science can, however, dimension the number of student places available of educational programmes. That is if programmes face certain challenges, e.g. a programme has been assessed as putting future graduates in risk unemployment.

The Coordinated Enrolment System (KOT) is responsible for coordinating the admission to the universities. Students are admitted to bachelor programmes on the basis of two quotas. Admission through quota 1 (kvote 1) depends exclusively on grades. Admission through quota 2 (kvote 2) depends on a number of different criteria, such as grades and work experience. The universities stipulate the criteria themselves.

Curriculum

University bachelor’s programmes

According to the Act on Universities, the Director of Studies and universities’ Study Boards are responsible for the practical organisation of teaching and assessments forming parts of the exams.

The Study Board shall ensure the organisation, realization and development of educational and teaching activities, including aims to:

  • Assure and develop the quality of education and teaching and follow-up on evaluations of education and teaching
  • Produce proposals for curricula and changes thereof
  • Approve the organisation of teaching and assessments forming part of the exams
  • Handle applications concerning credit transfer and exemptions
  • Make statements on all matters of importance to education and teaching as presented by the Rector or the person authorized by the Rector to do so

Common for all programmes at bachelor level is a bachelor project and instruction in theory of science and theory of scientific methods. The two subjects’ content is adjusted to the specific branch and specialization.

Professional bachelor’s programmes

According to the Act on Academy Profession Programmes and Professional Bachelor Programmes, individual education institution is responsible for the practical organisation of teaching and assessments forming parts of the exams.

A professional bachelor programme consists of:

  • Compulsory educational elements as well as practical training of at least 30 ECTS
  • Compulsory educational elements and practical training of at least 120 ECTS together
  • Electives of a maximum of 60 ECTS
  • A final project of 10, 15 or 20 ECTS

University Colleges may award the professional bachelor titles on completion of programmes that have been approved to meet a number of criteria. Among other things, the teaching must be rooted in the profession and its development and it must include links to national and international research.

Curricula in non-national language

In Denmark, a large number of degree programmes are offered in English with all examinations being conducted in English. These programmes are open to both Danish and foreign students.

Teaching methods

Teaching in the first cycle level programmes is a combination of lectures and smaller group/class teaching. The teaching must encompass methods, which can develop the students’ independence and ability to create innovation.

Teaching style – characteristics:

  • Student-centred learning and open debate during class
  • Close collaboration between students and teachers
  • Traditional lectures combined with project work with the teacher as a consultant
  • Active participation and problem solving rather than passive listening
  • Focus on turning new knowledge and learning into innovative solutions

Students in Denmark are expected to play an active role in their own learning process. Apart from attending traditional lectures, students engage in project work and are encouraged to participate in open discussions with their teachers and fellow students.

University bachelor’s programmes

A student in Denmark will attend lectures, study independently and undertake projects – on your own and in groups of students. The projects’ aims help the student think freely, to use initiatives and be creative. It will also give experience in using knowledge to solve complex real-world problems.

Professional bachelor’s programmes

The professional bachelor programmes and the academy profession programmes typically constitute an interaction between theory and practice and is organised in a combination of different forms of learning, including e.g. case studies, lectures and exercises, problem-oriented project work and practical training.

Responsible authority

The educational institutions may lay down provisions in the curriculum to the effect that the students are obliged to participate in the teaching.

Teachers can choose their own teaching methods and materials.

Progression of students

The universities can determine the period students are obliged to complete their studies within. Several universities have determined that students, as a minimum, need to complete 45 ECTS Point within one calendar year.

With regards to the professional bachelor programmes, programmes which are nominated for up to 120 ECTS have to be completed within the number of years which corresponds to the nominated duration of the programme.

The educational institutions can make exceptions from the last possible completion date if it is due to unusual reasons.

Rules for examination attempts

First-year students at universities must sit the tests, which the curriculum stipulates are part of the first-year examination before the end of the first year of a programme, in order to continue with the programme. Students who fail this examination may register for a new attempt in August. The tests at the end of the first year must be passed by the end of second year if the student is to continue with the programme.

Students can as a maximum register for this examination three times. The institution may permit  a fourth and fifth  attempt, if unusual circumstances warrant it. A passed test cannot be retaken by the student.

Employability

Career guidance

There are well established career guidance centres in almost all the universities and university colleges. These offer career guidance to all students and graduates.

Labour market access during study programme

In several university programmes work placements are an option for students as part of the study programmes. Many Danish educational institutions are partnered with local companies and public organisations for research purposes. Many of these partnerships lead to the work placements and, thus work experience to the students.

It is very common for university students to hold part-time jobs while studying. Some of the academic institutions have online job banks or career centres that assist the student in finding a relevant job.

As for professional higher education goes, work placement is a compulsory part of the study programme where the students apply their theory in practice.

Many private and large companies offer in-company placements/trainee programmes which students have to apply for on the same terms as when applying for a normal job.

Student assessment

The main objective of examinations and tests are to assess whether, and to what extent, the students’ qualifications comply with the objectives, competences and academic requirements stipulated for the programme in the programme order, curriculum etc.

Examinations in University bachelor’s programmes

Programmes have to contain a variation of different test formats, which have to reflect the content of the teaching and methods. These can be:

  • Oral, written and practical tests
  • Participation in teaching, courses, practical experiments etc.
  • A combination of the above
  • Project oriented courses, perhaps linked to areas outside the university in Denmark, or abroad

In the case that two or more students write a paper together, the assessment has to be individual and it has to be evident who has written what.

In programmes, which are offered in Danish, tests have to be in Danish, unless it is part of the test’s purpose to document the student’s skills in a foreign language. However, the tests can be done in Swedish or Norwegian instead of in Danish, unless it is part of the test’s purpose to document skills in the Danish language.

If the teaching in a subject has been carried through in a foreign language, the tests also have to be in this language, unless it is part of the test’s purpose to document the student’s skills in another language. Universities can disregard this rule.

The assessments are based on the seven-point grading scale or a solely pass/fail assessment. All grades attained for the different courses are included in the final degree certificate.

Examinations in Professional bachelor’s programmes

The professional bachelor’s programme consists of external as well as internal tests. The programme has to (at least) contain the following three tests:

  • An internal or external test, which is taken before the end of 2. Semester. This test has to document the student’s achievement of the learning goals which have been stipulated for the first study year
  • An internal or external test which has to be taken after the student’s completion of the programme’s practical training. This test has to document the student’s achievement of the learning goals which have been stipulated for the practical training
  • One external test in the final bachelor project, which together with the test after the practical training and the programme’s other tests, have to document the achievement of the educational learning goals have been achieved. The tests in the final bachelor project consist of a project and an oral examination. One grade is given.

Tests have to be individual. Programmes have to contain a variation of different tests forms, which have to reflect the content of the teaching and methods.

Certification

On completion of the education, the higher education institutions issue a diploma that contains a description of the programme with an account of its subject-composition.

Students who leave a programme without having passed the final examination are entitled to documentation of the examinations passed.

University bachelor’s programmes

The university issues certificates for successfully completed programmes. Graduates must receive their certificates within two months of the last test being completed and the result published.

In addition to the graduate’s name and the name of the university, the certificate must at least state:

  • The title graduates are entitled to use in Danish and English
  • The number of ECTS of the entire programme
  • The subjects in which tests have been taken, or which have been documented in some other way, including the number of ECTS
  • Tests for which credits have been transferred
  • The examination language if the test has been taken in a foreign language
  • The assessment obtained and if appropriate, the overall average examination result
  • A profile, which describes the programme

Professional bachelor’s programmes

University Colleges issue a diploma to students who have successfully completed their professional bachelor programme. In addition to information about the graduate’s name and the issuing authority, the diploma must as a minimum contain the following information:

  • The educational elements in which the student has sat for an examination
  • The assessments given
  • Educational elements documented in other ways
  • The individual educational elements cf. items 1 and 3, indicated in ECTS-point
  • Examinations for which the student has obtained credit transfer
  • The examination language, if the examination was taken in a foreign language, except for Norwegian and Swedish
  • The title which the programme leads to
  • The designation of the programme translated into English

Diploma supplement

In an annexe to the certificate, the institutions issue a Diploma Supplement in English. This, in accordance with the standard model developed by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES, describes the competence provided by the programme, the contents, level and aim. The Diploma Supplement provides information about the institution, the place of the institution and the programme in the Danish education system.

Second Cycle Programmes

Branches of study

Students in Denmark obtain a master’s degree through a master’s programme (MSc/MA) of 120 ETCS. They usually include one or two of the major fields of study of the bachelor programme. Independent research activities and a master’s thesis of at least 30 ECTS are required. The master’s programmes qualify students for a professional career and for scientific work.

The Qualifications Framework for Danish Higher Education gives following overview of the programme:

Formal mattersMaster’s programme
ECTS120
Further educationPhD study programmes
Main institution typeUniversities
Knowledge baseResearch-based
European/National Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning – EQF/NQFLevel 7

Length of master’s programme

The master programme in Denmark is a two-year programme leading to the Candidatus-degree, corresponding to 120 ECTS. In branches such as medicine, the two-year programme is extended to three years.

If the student combines two different specialisations, for example History with Physics with the aim of obtaining qualifications to teach in the upper secondary school, the studies will be prolonged with 30 ECTS.

From 2018 a limited number of part-time Master’s degree (MA/MSc) programmes alongside relevant employment will be offered. The lengths of the part time programmes are 4 years.

Overview of branches of study for the master’s programme

The master’s is research-based and provides students with is research-based and gives students a theoretical knowledge. More than the bachelor’s programme, the master focuses on combining theory with the ability to apply it practically. Another characteristic is that the master programme often is more specialised than the bachelor and, thus, the programmes gives knowledge to students based on the highest international research within more narrow areas.

The master programmes can be taken in a wide variety of different branches e.g.:

  • Humanities (History, Advanced Migration Studies, African Studies)
  • Natural sciences (Physics, Statistics, etc.)
  • Social science (economics, business economics, sociology, etc.)
  • Law
  • Theology
  • Health sciences (Medicine, Human Biology, etc.)
  • Technical studies (Engineering etc.)
  • IT (Software Development, Digital Innovation and Management, etc.)

Admission requirements

Admission to a master program is a qualifying bachelor program or other relevant Danish or foreign education on same level. The admission requirements are stipulated in the study program by the universities. Universities cannot admit students at the master programmes before the previous bachelor programme has been completed and passed.

Alternative access routes

Universities can admit students on a master programme on another basis than the above mentioned if the applicant has corresponding professional qualifications and the university believes that the applicant will be able to complete the programme.

Responsible authority

In general, the universities are responsible for regulating the size of the student population themselves, including the specific number enrolled at each master programme.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Science can, however, dimension the number of student places available of educational programmes if the programmes have been assessed as having high unemployment rates among graduates for long periods.

Curriculum

Universities have a significant degree of academic freedom and autonomy with regards to the curriculum of the master programmes.

According to the Act on Universities, the Director of Studies and universities’ Study Boards are responsible for the practical organisation of teaching and assessments forming parts of the exams. The Study Board shall ensure the organisation, realisation and development of educational and teaching activities, including aims to:

  • Assure and develop the quality of education and teaching and follow-up on evaluations of education and teaching
  • Produce proposals for curricula and changes thereof
  • Approve the organization of teaching and assessments forming part of the exams
  • Handle applications concerning credit transfer and exemptions
  • Make statements on all matters of importance to education and teaching as presented by the Rector or the person authorized by the Rector to do so.

In general the curricula must provide the student knowledge of one or more subject areas which, in selected fields, is based on the highest international research within a subject area.

The master level is generally finalised with a master’s thesis of 30 ECTS. The thesis may, if it has an experimental character, be extended up to 60 ECTS.

In the master’s thesis, the students must document skills in applying academic theory and methods to a specific academic subject.

Curricula in non-national language

In Denmark, a large number of master’s programmes are offered in English with all examinations being conducted in English. These programmes are open to both Danish and foreign students.

Teaching methods

The universities may lay down provisions in the curriculum to the effect that the students are obliged to participate in the teaching.

Teaching can consists of class room teaching, lectures, one-to-one consultation, group work and seminars. Teachers can choose their own teaching methods and materials.

Teaching at master’s programmes is a combination of lectures and smaller group/class teaching. The teaching must encompass methods, which can develop the students’ independence and ability to create innovation.

Teaching style characteristics

  • Student-centred learning and open debate during class
  • Close collaboration between students and teachers
  • Traditional lectures combined with project work with the teacher as a consultant
  • Active participation and problem solving rather than passive listening
  • Focus on turning new knowledge and learning into innovative solutions

The teaching aims to make the students understand and, on a scientific basis, reflect on the knowledge of the subject area(s) as well as be able to identify scientific issues. It is furthermore aimed that learning on master level must make students able to manage work situations and developments that are complex, unpredictable and require new solution models.

Students on master’s programmes must be able to independently take responsibility for their own professional development and specialisation.

Progression of students

The universities can determine the period students are obliged to complete their studies within. Several universities have determined that students, as a minimum, need to complete 45 ECTS Point within one calendar year.

The educational institutions can make exceptions from the last possible completion date if it is due to unusual reasons.

Rules for examination attempts

First-year students at universities must sit the tests, which the curriculum stipulates are part of the first-year examination before the end of the first year of a programme, in order to continue with the programme. Students who fail this examination may register for a new attempt in August. The tests at the end of the first year must be passed by the end of second year if the student is to continue with the programme.

Students can as a maximum register for this examination three times. The institution may permit enrolment for a fourth and fifth time, if unusual circumstances warrant it. A passed test cannot be retaken by the student.

Employability

Career guidance

There are well established career guidance centres in almost all the universities and university colleges. These offer career guidance to all students and graduates.

Labour market access during study programme

Several master’s programmes on university level encourage for project-based internships as part of the study programme.

The goal of the internship programme is for the student to put the theoretical and methodological qualifications that he/she has acquired throughout the study programme to use in solving assignments on the highest professional level and take on professional functions in a company or institution that is of relevance to the courses the student has taken throughout the study. The internship programme qualifies the student to reflect on and discuss the practical application and implications of these theories.

Besides internships it is very common for master students to hold part-time jobs while studying. Some of the academic institutions have online job banks or career centres that assist the student in finding a relevant job.

Student assessment

The main objective of examinations and tests are to assess whether, and to what extent, the students’ qualifications comply with the objectives, competences and academic requirements. The master thesis must reflect the skills and competencies, which have been built up during the previous two years of studying on the master programme.

Examinations in University master’s programmes

Tests have to be individual. Programmes have to contain a variation of different test formats, which have to reflect the content of the teaching and methods. These can be:

  • Oral, written and practical tests
  • Participation in teaching, courses, practical experiments etc.
  • Project oriented courses, perhaps linked to areas outside the university in Denmark, or abroad

In almost all studies, the master thesis is a large report written at the end of the programme. In some fields the hand-in of the thesis must be followed by an oral defence but it varies from study to study.

In the case that two or more students write a paper together, the assessment has to be individual and it has to be evident who has written what part of the paper.

In programmes, which are offered in Danish, tests have to be in Danish, unless it is part of the test’s purpose to document the student’s skills in a foreign language. However, the tests can be done in Swedish or Norwegian instead of in Danish, unless it is part of the test’s purpose to document skills in the Danish language.

If the teaching in a subject has been carried through in a foreign language, the tests also have to be in this language, unless it is part of the test’s purpose to document the student’s skills in another language. Universities can disregard this rule.

The assessments are based on the seven-point grading scale or a solely pass/fail assessment. All grades attained for the different courses are included in the final degree certificate.

Certification

On completion of the education, the higher education institutions issue a diploma, which indicates the examinations taken and the marks obtained as well as the title/degree awarded. The diploma must contain a description of the programme with an account of its subject-composition.

Students who leave a programme without having passed the final examination are entitled to documentation of the examinations passed.

The university issues certificates for successfully completed programmes. Graduates must receive their certificates within two months of the last test being completed and the result published.

In addition to the graduate’s name and the name of the university, the certificate must at least state:

  • The title graduates are entitled to use in Danish and English
  • The number of ECTS of the entire programme
  • The subjects in which tests have been taken, or which have been documented in some other way, including the number of ECTS
  • Tests for which credits have been transferred
  • The examination language if the test has been taken in a foreign language
  • The assessment obtained and if appropriate, the overall average examination result
  • A profile, which describes the programme

Diploma supplement

In an annexe to the certificate, the institutions issue a Diploma Supplement in English, which in accordance with the standard model developed by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES describes the competence provided by the programme, the contents, level and aim. Also, the Diploma Supplement provides information about the institution, the place of the institution and the programme in the Danish education system.

Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Organisation of doctoral studies

In Denmark two types of PhD programmes exist: The normal research PhD where the student is connected to a university or another higher educational institution while completing the PhD, and the Industrial PhD which is completed in connection with a company and an educational institution.

A PhD programme takes 3 years to complete (180 ECTS). It is possible to study a PhD within the same scientific areas which exist on bachelor and master level: humanities, natural science, social science, health science, technical science and theology.
The educational institutions can award a PhD within the subject areas where the institutions have research, and where they have established a PhD school. An educational institution can establish a PhD school alone or in cooperation with one or several institutions.
In the beginning of the PhD programme – and within three months – the student and the educational institution need to determine a research and an educational plan. The plan is to describe the project and the course, as well as a time schedule, a supervisor agreement, an agreement of possible copyrights and a financing plan.
During the programme, the student is to conduct independent research and on that foundation write a thesis. Furthermore, the student needs to attend courses which are relevant for the research project. They have to correspond to six months of studies. Moreover, the student needs to actively engage in research environments, both at the educational institution and outside, e.g. abroad. Also, the student has to gain experience with teaching or another form of knowledge dissemination, e.g. dissemination of the research results.
On the basis of a statement from the supervisor, the educational institution continually needs to assess whether or not the student’s course is running as planned or if it perhaps should be terminated.
At the final examination, a jury provides a recommendation on whether the project proves that the student independently can make use of the subject’s sci-entific methods. Hereafter, the student has to defend the project at a public defense where he or she is examined by the jury.
An educational institution can decide if a student can be enrolled as a PhD student before the master degree has been completed. However, this does not change the extent of the programme as the student still needs to complete the master programme. This is only possible for a few programmes.

Industrial PhD

The industrial PhD implies that the student is employed in a private or public company, where he or she carrys out a PhD project within a company’s interest field. At the same time, the student needs to be enrolled at university or another higher educational institution.
The Industrial PhD has been developed in order to promote research and development in Danish business by educating researchers with an insight into the professional aspects of research and development. Furthermore, the scheme is meant to support the building of network and exchange between companies and Danish and/or foreign universities/research institutions.
Companies can apply for funding for a partial coverage of the expenses to an Industrial PhD. The industrial PhD scheme is administrated by the Danish Agency for Universities and Internationalisation.

Doctoral degrees

The higher educational institutions which are covered by the act on universities can award doctoral degrees and honorary doctoral degrees.
The institutions can in those areas with associated master degrees represented in the institution award doctoral degrees.
People who have been awarded a doctoral degree or an honorary doctoral degree receive a diploma from the educational institution.
The award of a doctoral degree takes place on the basis of a thesis which is defended at an oral, public defense. The award of the doctoral degree is an ac-knowledgement of the fact that the writer has acquired a considerable scientific insight and maturity and with the thesis has brought science a step further.
People who have obtained a master degree or a PhD within a close related subject area has the right to hand in a doctoral thesis for evaluation. The educa-tional institutions can also allow for others to hand in a doctoral thesis.
The honorary doctoral degree can be awarded to scientists who believe to have made a valuable scientific contribution and where it is natural to award them with the highest scientific award.

Admission requirements

Normally, a completed master degree is required in order to be enrolled as a PhD student. However, with a few programmes it is possible to be enrolled before a student has completed the master programme. In this case, the institution needs to make sure that the student is able to complete the master programme during the PhD programme.
It is up to the educational institutions to decide who they wish to enroll on the programmes, but it has to appear from the institutions’ internal rules which criteria the institutions use in the admission procedure.
Most applicants apply for PhD programmes via job ads on available PhD scholarships. The applicant has to write an application and provide a detailed study plan which shows what the PhD project is to centre around.
For some available PhD scholarships the subject has been decided upon beforehand. In others, the applicant/student has the option to decide for themselves when formulating the application.

Status of Doctoral students/candidates

PhD students is generally employed in a position as a PhD fellow. This means that the PhD students are employed in a position with salary. The employment covers the educational period of three years. Pension is included in the salary. Industrial PhD students receives salary from the company they are employed in.

Supervision arrangements

When enrolling, each PhD-student is allocated an official supervisor who must be a permanently tenured university teacher. The supervisor has to be an acknowledged researcher within the relevant subject area. In addition to giving subject-specific and study-related guidance, this supervisor must see to it that the study including planned course participation is running satisfactorily and proceeding according to plan. Within three months of the start of the PhD programme, the university shall approve a research and study plan (the PhD plan) for the individual PhD student. At regular points in time during the PhD programme, the university shall assess whether the PhD student is following the PhD plan and, if necessary, adjust the plan. The university shall lay down internal rules on the frequency of such assessments
In connection with the PhD programme, the educational institution offers the student a teaching course and teaching guidance.
Also, the institution makes sure that the necessary resources are available for the student so that he or she can complete the programme as in accordance with the PhD plan.
The institution determines internal rules for the guidance of the PhD student.

Employability

No information available.

Assessment

The educational institution regularly assesses throughout the PhD programme if the PhD student follows the PhD plan and make adjustments if that is needed. The assessment is made on the basis of an evaluation from the main supervisor, who after talks with the PhD student confirms that the programme is being carried through in accordance with the PhD plan, or in writing explains necessary adjustments. The PhD student is given the possibility of submitting any remarks to the evaluation. Any remarks have to be submitted within two weeks. At the assessment, the educational institution needs to consider documented illness, maternity leave and other forms of approved leave. The educational institution determines internal rules concerning the frequency of these assessments. 

If the educational institution assesses that the PhD student no longer follows the PhD plan despite possible adjustments, the institution gives the student three months to improve the situation. The three months cannot lead to an extension of the PhD programme. The institution conducts a new assessment after the three months. The enrollment will end if the assessment after the three months is negative.
The PhD thesis has to document the student’s ability to make use of the subject’s scientific methods and provide research abilities corresponding to the international standards for PhD degrees within the same discipline.
The educational institution determines internal rules concerning the preparation and submission of the PhD thesis.
The PhD student’s enrollment at the educational institution terminates when submitting the thesis. The main supervisor has to provide a statement on the whole PhD course a week after the submission of the thesis. If the supervisor in his or hers statement argues that the PhD programme has not been completed with satisfaction, the student has two weeks to put forward his or hers remarks to the supervisor’s statement. The thesis can only be taken into consideration if the whole PhD programme has been completed satisfactorily.

An evaluation jury is set up by the educational institution after the submission of the PhD thesis. The jury consists of three members and one is appointed as the chairman. The members of the jury have to be acknowledged researchers within the relevant subject area. The members have to come from outside the educational institution, and one has to come from abroad (unless this is inappropriate from an academic perspective). The supervisors of the PhD project cannot be members of the jury. The main supervisor is involved but cannot vote.
The student is informed as soon as the jury has been set up and has a week to oppose any members of the jury.

Two months after the submission of the thesis, at the latest, the jury reports to the educational institution if the thesis is suitable as a basis for the award of the PhD degree. The student receives a copy of the report. The defense of the thesis can take place if the thesis is found suitable. If the thesis has not been found suitable, the jury will report if the thesis can be resubmitted in a revised form. The student and the supervisor have two weeks to comment the report. Has the thesis not been found suitable, the educational institution will make one of the following decisions on the basis of the jury’s report and the supervisor’s and student’s comments:

  • The defense cannot take place
  • The thesis can be submitted again in a revised form within a deadline of three months. If the thesis is resubmitted, the thesis is evaluated once more by the jury, unless special circumstances prevent this. 
  • The thesis will be evaluated by a new jury

The PhD thesis is defended at a public defense after internal rules determined by the educational institution. At the defense, the student has to explain the work and defend the thesis in front of the jury’s member. The institution needs to make sure that the thesis is publicly available in due time before the defense.
The educational institution determines time and place for the public defense.

Certification

Soon after the student’s defense of the PhD thesis, the evaluation jury recommends if the PhD degree is to be awarded and reports this recommendation to the educational institution and the student. The recommendation has to be well grounded and if there is disagreement in the jury, the decision will rest upon the voting majority.
The educational institution issues a diploma for the PhD degree. The diploma is issued in Danish and in English and has to contain information on subject area and topic for the PhD thesis as well as information on the completed PhD programme.
If the PhD degree is not awarded, the educational institution will, after request, issue documentation in Danish and in English that parts of the PhD programme have been completed.

Mobility and Internationalisation

Danish schools and educational institutions have a long tradition of different forms of international co-operation i.e. exchange of pupils/students and teachers.
The Lisbon Convention and the Bologna process have brought more focus on different aspects of internationalisation of education among Danish political parties, and up until now it has been the aim of internationalisation of education to ensure that:

  • Danish education programmes measure up to the best in the world;
  • Danish research programmes can meet the highest international standards;
  • Danish programmes are up-to-date and attractive.

The Danish Ministry of Children and Education and the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education ensure that the globalisation strategy on internationalisation of education is implemented. The administration of and information on Denmark’s participation in international education programmes and the assessment of foreign qualifications have been further enhanced since January 2005 by gathering all problem-solving activities into the Danish Agency for Universities and Internationalisation, which is an agency within the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education. The Danish Agency for Universities and Internationalisation supports mobility and study abroad, the international dimension in education, recognition of foreign qualifications, international cooperation and the marketing and promotion of Denmark as a study and work place.


The former Danish government launched a new strategy in February 2010: “Denmark 2020. Knowledge, growth, prosperity and welfare“. In here, it listed 10 goals, which are to be met before 2020, and one of the goals is to have at least one Danish university in top 10 of European universities. Also, all Danish universities have to maintain or improve their international ranking measured in the most relevant and recognised comparisons. 

Alongside these goals, the former government also wanted to improve the Danish university sector by making strong educational offers which match the needs of the society, maintain the high ambitions for research and innovation as well as maintaining and improving the work with the internationalisation of the Danish universities. It has been the goal to continue the work with the internationalisation of the Danish research activities and international cooperation between the universities. The government wants to aim to prioritise funds for Danish universities’ participation in international university partnerships and networks. The government wants to prioritise the networks and partnerships where Danish universities will get access to cooperation with foreign universities which are in the lead internationally. In 2010, the establishment of a Danish university centre in Beijing began as well. 

The Danish education system has differentiated tasks and there are specialised areas of education which are reflected in legislation. The statutory framework for continued internationalisation is generally in place. The financial framework is not the same for all comparable education programmes though. These differences are about to be phased out in connection with new legislative initiatives and the realisation of the need to increase the opportunities for institutions on the international education market.

Globalisation has been of major importance in the drafting of new legislation for the Danish universities act, the mergers of medium cycle higher education institutions into University Colleges and of short cycle higher education institutions into Academies of Professional Higher Education. Also, mergers in the long cycle higher education sector have taken place as well. The introduction of Diploma Supplement, ECTS and the professional bachelor degree at University College level have given more transparency for Danish students as well as enhanced Denmark’s international profile.

The Danish education system is decentralised and largely based on a fundamental confidence that the given framework and opportunities are utilised locally and that the individual school/institution is to create the best quality for pupils and students. The government’s primary task is to set targets and establish a framework for this work. This is also reflected in the main points of the strategy for the globalisation strategy which the former Danish government put forward in 2006. The main points in the strategy for enhanced internationalisation of education were as follows:

  • To ensure that programmes provide Danish pupils, students and employees with the qualifications to succeed in international environments to support Danes studying, researching and working abroad;
  • To attract qualified foreign students, researchers, teachers and labour;
  • To provide both students and educational institutions with more and better ways of taking part in international cooperation and competition on the global educational market
  • To ensure the quality of the Danish education system through participation in transnational cooperation and international comparisons.

In its strategy for Denmark in the global economy from 2006, the former government specified that the primary and secondary school sectors should work to ensure that pupils gain proficiencies and skills which qualify them for active global citizenship. The strategy implied, among other things, that school teaching must include a strong global perspective and that pupils participate in minimum two international projects during their primary and secondary education. 

Mobility of pupils in primary and lower secondary education usually only takes place when parents bring their children to a foreign country because of e.g. a job transfer.
Real exchange programmes take place at upper secondary schools, universities and other higher education institutions. Danish higher education institutions have a broad exchange programme cooperation with universities and higher education institutions around the world.
In order to be able to bring the Danish student state grants abroad, the study programme has to be approved by the home institution. Whether the study programme is approved differs from study to study. The student himself/herself normally provides the relevant documentation for the purpose of an approval. 
Danish students who wish to study abroad for a whole master degree may apply for a scholarship for up to two years. The scholarship is intended to partly or wholly cover the tuition fees at certain study programmes in other countries. Scholarships for tuition fees are limited to whole study programmes at master’s level and study periods as part of a Danish study programme. A new enabling Danish students to receive a grant to pay contributions to registration fees and tuition costs in foreign universities for a two-year period took effect in the 2008/09 academic year. Support is portable for up to 4 years (which may correspond to the total length of studies but if not, relates to the last four years of study).

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European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe.

The EHEO general plan stresses that:

  • Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected.
  • The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders.

Thus, EHEO plans:

  • improve academic and scientific interaction of universities;
  • protect the interests of universities;
  • interact more closely with public authorities of European countries;
  • popularize European higher education in the world;
  • develop academic mobility;
  • seek funding for European universities.