Doctoral studies may be partly or wholly financed through stipends. This type of income provides the least social security, even if the level of disposable income is often higher than that of a doctoral grant.

Stipends are often established using money from private funds and research foundations. HEIs’ donated funding is generally earmarked for stipends and can therefore not be used for doctoral grants or employment. A few HEIs use stipends for undergraduate education as a way of preparing for future research.

Several HEIs have changed their guidelines and no longer establish stipends as means of funding for third-cycle education. Replacing stipends with doctoral grants does not entail a significant increase in costs for the HEI. For doctoral students, the net income is generally lower for a doctoral grant, but on the other hand they offer greater social security than stipends.

In 2014, eight per cent of active doctoral students were funded via stipends. Stipends are more common among foreign doctoral students than Swedish ones.

No social benefits

The social security net is very poor for doctoral students who are funded via stipends, as stipends provide no social benefits at all. Instead, all forms of insurance must be organised privately.

Stipends should not normally be a compensation for work. In some cases, a stipend may be an alternative to a salary, in which case it should be entered as employment income in your tax return and taxed accordingly. Only stipends that can be counted as employment income and taxed provide any income that can be used as a basis for a pension.

Naturally, those who are also employed outside the HEI during the period of study are covered by the social benefits linked to that job.

Protection for income used as a basis for sick pay

Stipends are not used as a basis for calculating sick pay. However, someone studying with no funding or doctoral grant may, in some circumstances, have protection for income used as a basis for sick pay, which means that the income level is placed on hold during the period of study.

If you are on leave of absence from your job to study in your professional field, you have this protection for the entire period of study. If you are not on leave from employment, for example if you are unemployed or run your own business, but are still studying in your professional field, you may receive this protection for no more than a year.

The Swedish Association of University Teachers, SULF, advices its members on protection for income used as a basis for sick pay and the right to compensation in case of sickness and parental leave. In some cases, SULF also represents members in their cases against Försäkringskassan (the Swedish Social Insurance Agency) or an unemployment fund.



Many stipends to apply for

There are many different stipends that students and doctoral students can apply for. They are often designed so that they focus on one subject area and/or a specific purpose.

Large HEIs often have stipend offices that can provide more information and suggestions. Many faculties and departments also have special funding that can be applied for and used for travel, conferences and similar.

HEIs’ websites

Useful places to start looking for stipend are the University of Gothenburg, Stockholm University and the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education, STINT.

University of Gothenburg

Stockholm University


The Swedish Institute

The Swedish Institute, SI, promotes and provides support for partnerships and exchanges in research and education between Sweden and other countries. SI has many scholarship programmes, both for Swedish students and researchers who wish to study or research abroad and for foreign students and researchers who wish to study or do research in Sweden.

Information about scholarships and grants can be accessed via SI’s main page.

The Swedish Institute

Information about scholarship programmes for foreign students and researchers and information about education and research for foreign students is available on the Swedish Institute’s Study in Sweden website.

Study in Sweden

The Sweden-America Foundation

The Sweden-America Foundation has stipends for doctoral students (as well as Master’s students and postdocs) in the US and Canada.

The Sweden-America Foundation

The American-Scandinavian Foundation

The American-Scandinavian Foundation, ASF, has stipends for Swedish visiting lecturers at any college in the US.

The American-Scandinavian Foundation

Page last updated 2017-09-01