Doctoral grants are used at some faculties and departments to finance the initial period of third-cycle education. Since January 2009, a doctoral grant has been SEK 15,500 per month for full-time studies.
In accordance with the Ordinance on doctoral grants for third-cycle students (1995:938), a doctoral grant is awarded to a person who is being or who already has been admitted to third-cycle education at a higher education institution (HEI) for which state is the principal, or to the Stockholm School of Economics.
When no less than the equivalent of three years of full-time studies remains (according to the individual study plan), a doctoral student who receives a doctoral grant shall, after applying, be employed on a doctoral studentship. Applications for doctoral studentships are sent to the vice-chancellor or the body that has received delegated responsibility. The individual study plan is the basis for the decision about employment on a doctoral studentship. It is therefore very important to establish a study plan and review it at least once per year.
A doctoral grant may be extended in exceptional circumstances. Read more in the section on Rights and Support.
Extending a period of study
Employment as a research or teaching assistant
The most common arrangement, when a doctoral grant is used as a form of funding, is for the doctoral student to also be employed as an assistant at the HEI and assume some departmental duties in the form of teaching or administrative work. This employment may be at no more than 40 per cent of a full-time post. The doctoral grant must amount to at least 50 per cent of full-time.
It is important to differentiate between working hours and studying. A doctoral student who receives a doctoral grant and also teaches or performs some type of departmental duties, must request part-time employment as an assistant in addition to the grant. See Chapter 5, Sections 8-12 of the Higher Education Ordinance.
Limited social security
A doctoral grant is taxed, but is not counted as income that provides a basis for sick pay, and nor does it provide any social security benefits. It is only when the doctoral grant has become a doctoral studentship that the doctoral student is covered by the social security system.
Sickness must be reported to Försäkringskassan (the Swedish Social Insurance Agency). Doctoral students who receive a doctoral grant retain it if they are sick or on parental leave. Someone who had income that was a basis for sick pay before receiving a doctoral grant can generally retain that level for calculating sick pay.
A doctoral grant is not a form of employment, so there is no formally regulated entitlement to annual leave. Leave should instead be regulated through the individual study plan. A holiday allowance of five weeks should be appropriate. If it is difficult to agree this with the supervisor or project manager, the doctoral student should contact the head of school or someone else with responsibility for third-cycle education. The union or students’ union can also help.
A doctoral student who is offered employment towards the end of her pregnancy, and who has no retained level of income that is used as a basis for sick pay, should contact Försäkringskassan for more information about the level of her parental benefit.
A doctoral student who has a doctoral grant combined with employment as an assistant may receive sickness or parental benefits based on that, if the income amounts to a certain percentage of the price base amount.
On the way out
Fewer and fewer doctoral students receive doctoral grants. In 2013, only eight per cent of all active doctoral students had this form of financing. Several large HEIs have phased out the grant in favour of immediate employment on a doctoral studentship, in order to provide doctoral students with better working conditions and increased security.