University of Gothenburg

Doctoral Studies

The aim of the PhD program at the School of Public Administration is to foster an enriching, dynamic and rigorous research environment that provides doctoral students with the necessary theoretical knowledge, along with both the methodological and practical skills allowing them to analyze a broad range of public sector-related phenomena.

The doctoral program is interdisciplinary, drawing upon social science fields such as anthropology, economics, organization studies, political science and sociology. The program is decidedly pluralist in terms of methodology, encouraging students to develop novel approaches to the analysis of research puzzles.

Courses in the program are offered at the School of Public Administration, and students also have the opportunity to take courses at other departments and faculties in the university as well as at other universities in Sweden and abroad. Our courses are offered in both English and Swedish.

Graduates of the PhD program are well positioned for careers in academia, as well as in governmental bodies, non-governmental organizations, and private organizations. Recent graduates are employed at Lund University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Karlstad University, and Örebro University. Others are employed in the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, the Government Offices of Sweden, and the Swedish International Center for Local Democracy, as well as Price Waterhouse Cooper.

We collaborate with other relevant PhD programs both in Scandinavia and globally, and we are actively interested in establishing additional partnerships.

General Study Programme

The study programme was ratified by the Board of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Gothenburg on 27 March 2007 and revised on 11 October 2012.

1 The programme’s aim
The programme’s aim is to develop the knowledge and skills required to pursue independent research within public administration and to contribute to development of knowledge within the subject through production of an academic thesis.

The third level programme in public administration also has the aim of developing the doctoral student’s ability to apply the academic skills and knowledge gained in further research work or in other advanced professional work. In addition, the programme shall develop the doctoral student’s communicational and pedagogical skills in expressing him/herself well verbally and in writing both within and outside the academic context. Within the framework of the 240 higher education credits that the programme comprises, it is compulsory for the doctoral student to study 5 higher education credits in teaching and learning in higher education. The doctoral student shall also have acquired knowledge in planning and conducting research projects.

The programme shall also provide the opportunity for international contacts, for example in the form of participation at international research conferences and/or visits to foreign higher education institutions.

The programme’s specific goals, which must be fulfilled for a doctoral degree in public administration to be awarded, are detailed below. In other respects the requirements detailed in the Higher Education Ordinance and the Degree Ordinance concerning degrees at third level apply.

1.1 Knowledge and understanding
For the award of a doctorate the doctoral student shall
– demonstrate a breadth of knowledge in and systematic understanding of the research field and advanced and current specialist knowledge within a delimited part of the research field, and
– demonstrate familiarity with scientific method in general and the specific research field’s method in particular.

1.2 Skills and capabilities
For the award of a doctorate the doctoral student shall
– demonstrate capability for scientific analysis and synthesis and for independent critical review and
assessment of new and complex phenomena, issues and situations,
– demonstrate capability to critically, independently, creatively and with scientific exactitude identify and formulate questions and plan and with adequate methods conduct research and other qualified tasks within set time frames and evaluate such work,
– in an academic thesis demonstrate ability to make significant contribution to the development of knowledge,
– demonstrate ability to present and discuss research findings in dialogue with the scientific community and the rest of society verbally and in writing and with authority in both national and international contexts,
– demonstrate ability to identify needs for further knowledge, and
– display prerequisites to contribute to the development of society and others’ learning
in research and education and in other qualified professional contexts.

1.3 Judgement and approach
For the award of a doctorate the doctoral student shall
‐ demonstrate intellectual independence and scientific integrity and the ability to make ethical judgements,
‐ demonstrate the ability to critically review and evaluate research in public administration,
‐ demonstrate advanced understanding of science’s possibilities and limitations and its role in society and people’s responsibility for how it is used,
‐ be able to evaluate strengths and weaknesses in his or her own academic thesis.

2 Eligibility and required previous knowledge
Admission to the programme requires applicants to have fulfilled criteria for general eligibility in accordance with what is stated in Chapter 7 of the Higher Education Ordinance.

2.1 Basic eligibility
According to Chapter 7 Section 39 of the Higher Education Ordinance, general eligibility comprises
‐ completion of a second level degree,
‐ completion of course requirements of at least 240 higher education credits, at least 60 of which are at second level, or
‐ acquisition in some other way of fundamentally equivalent knowledge inside or outside the country.

According to interim regulations, applicants satisfying the basic eligibility requirements for admission to post graduate studies before 1 July 2007 satisfy the basic eligibility requirements for admission to third level education but only until 31 December 2015.

2.2 Specific eligibility requirements
Admission to a third level programme in public administration requires
– a second level degree in public administration or a second level degree comprising a degree project focused on public administration.

Specific eligibility requirements are also satisfied by persons who have in some other way acquired fundamentally equivalent knowledge inside or outside the country.

3 Admission and selection
Admission to a third level programme in public administration generally requires a special faculty wide announcement. Other regulations concerning announcement and admission can be found in the faculty’s rules for admission to third level programmes at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Chapter 7 of the Higher Education Ordinance states that applicants shall be selected taking their ability to complete the programme into account. The Department’s competence and supervisory resources in the doctoral student’s preliminary research area of focus is also considered.

As a basis for selection applicants are required to enclose the following:
a. Essays and degree projects that have been assessed according to normal scientific quality criteria. An overall appraisal is then made of the doctoral student’s ability to formulate problems, theoretical linkages, methodological awareness, and analytical and narrative abilities.
b. A project outline in which the applicant indicates his or her research interests / intended thesis field.
c. CV, course certificates and other certificates to which the applicant makes reference. Good references and qualifications in fields relevant to research within public administration are taken into account in the assessment.

Admission decisions are made by the head of department.

4 The programme’s content and structure
The programme comprises 240 higher education credits and ends in a PhD degree. The option is available to be awarded a licentiate degree after 120 higher education credits if the requirements specified in the Higher Education Ordinance’s degree ordinance concerning licentiate degrees are fulfilled.

A third level programme consists partly of courses that are examined as the programme progresses, and partly of individual research work leading to an academic thesis. Within the framework of his or her programme a doctoral student is also expected to take part in seminar activities and, unless particular reasons exist, contribute to the department’s joint activities.

A doctoral candidate may transfer higher education credits from other programmes. Following personal application by the doctoral student, the decision on transferral of credits and associated reduction of the period of study is made by the head of department when the student’s individual study plan is drawn up but no later than six months after it has been drawn up. Transferrals shall be linked to a decision to shorten the funding period by a period of time equivalent to the transferred credits. The reduction is to be documented in the student’s individual study plan. A maximum of two years’ credits with associated reductions may be transferred.

4.1 Courses
The programme comprises a course component of 65 higher education credits, of which:
‐ 15 higher education credits represent compulsory theoretical courses
‐ 15 higher education credits represent compulsory methodological courses,
‐ 30 higher education credits represent optional courses, and
‐ 5 higher education credits represent a compulsory course in teaching and learning in higher education.

Optional courses are chosen in consultation with the doctoral student’s supervisors.

4.2 Thesis and public defence
Central to the programme is the writing of an academic thesis in which the doctoral student advances knowledge in the research field. The doctoral student is expected to report regularly on the progress of his/her thesis. This is done primarily by writing a thesis memorandum which is then presented at the department’s seminars.

An external reader shall be used at the mid-point and/or final seminar.

The thesis shall be based on independent research and be of good international scientific standard. It may take the form of either a monograph or a compilation thesis. The thesis shall in other respects be in agreement with the provisions of the Higher Education Ordinance.

In accordance with the rules stated in the Higher Education Ordinance for doctoraland licentiate degrees, the thesis shall be defended at a public defence and seminar respectively.

5 Supervision
Two supervisors shall be appointed for each doctoral candidate; one main supervisor and one assistant supervisor. The main supervisor shall be employed at or co-opted by the University of Gothenburg. At least one of the supervisors shall be qualified for appointment to a readership and at least one of the supervisors shall have completed supervisor training.

The doctoral student is entitled to supervision according to what is stated in Guidelines for third level programmes at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Doctoral students who so request have the right to change supervisor.

6 Individual study programme
The individual study programme shall contain a schedule and a funding plan for the entire period of study up to the planned date of the public defence.

An individual study programme is drawn up for every doctoral student at the time of admission. The programme is approved by the head of department after consultation with the doctoral student and his/her supervisors.

The individual study programme shall be followed up at least once a year. The follow-up shall clearly show how the programme is progressing.
Doctoral student, supervisors and head of department shall certify in writing that they have studied the content of the individual study programme and any alterations made to it.

7 Other
In other regards, please refer to applicable legislation and guidelines at the University of Gothenburg and at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Details of applicable regulatory frameworks can be found at


The School of Public Administration regularly recruit PhD-students in Public Administration.  These positions will be announced on this web site at


The PhD programme consists of 240 higher education credits, which corresponds to four-year's full-time studies, and concludes with an examination for the doctorate degree. The programme consists of a course section comprising 65 higher education credits. The course section aims to provide the student with theoretically advanced, well-rounded and methodical schooling. The second part of the programme consists of research work, which leads on to a scientific thesis.


Our PhD positions  are fully funded and the doctoral students are employed with salary by the School of Public Administration, University of Gothenburg

Eligibility conditions and admission

Applicants must meet both general and specific entry requirements.
General entry requirements: To be eligible for postgraduate studies applicant must have (cf the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance, chapter 7, section 40):
1. been awarded a second-cycle degree
2. been awarded at least 240 higher education credits, of which at least 60 must be at second-cycle level, or
3. acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.
Specific entry requirements: To be eligible for postgraduate studies applicants must have (cf Swedish Higher Education ordinance, chapter 7 section 40): completed a second-cycle degree in public administration or a second-cycle degree incorporating a dredger project focusing on public administration. The specific entry requirements are also met by applicants who have acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad (for example business administration of Political Science)

Processing and Decision Process

Applications for the PhD Programme in Public Administration are processed as follows:

- The School of Public Administration's Board for Research and Education (RFF) appoints a preparation group from its own members, which prepares the applications and carries out interviews with the applicants.
- RFF processes that applications and submits a proposal for decision on admissions to the Dean
- Notifications on admissions are sent to the applicants.
- The programme starts as soon as posible.

More information

David Karlsson
Director of Studies for PhD Programme in Public Administration
e-mail: or telephone: 46 (0)31 786 1611