The University of Akureyri offers specific and carefully tailored, 3- to 4-year (180–240 ECTS) PhD programmes in selected areas.

The aim of the studies

The aim of the studies is that the PhD students obtain knowledge and skills to be able to pursue independent and systematic scientific work in an international academic community.

Degree arrangement

In most cases, the PhD student is attached to a specific research programme or research project hosted at UNAK and led by the prospective PhD supervisor (180 ECTS).

In addition to the individual research project, the PhD students may need to take courses for a maximum of 60 ECTS credits.

Full-time studies are considered 60 ECTS a year.

Learning outcomes

A doctoral degree (PhD) is typically required to work in an academic community, e.g. to become a university professor.

In more practical terms, a PhD degree gives you the qualification and credibility to work as an independent scientist in your own field.

The degree also comes in handy in many administrative jobs, as well as in jobs where you need to maintain difficult projects and process different types of information regardless of your discipline.

Application requirements

Individual doctoral studies at UNAK are always designed within the framework of a certain research project. That is why applicants for PhD studies are required to present a full-blown research proposal as they file their application. This proposal should be written as a result of careful dialogue with the proposed supervisor, who should be a leading academic at UNAK. This dialogue may last for several months.

UNAK requires all doctoral projects to have a solid funding base before the doctoral student is accepted to the University. In practice, funding is highly dependent on the current research projects headed by the proposed supervisor at each point in time.

Application process

There are no fixed deadlines for applications to the PhD programme. Those who are interested in PhD studies at UNAK should start by contacting a leading academic at UNAK in their field and open a dialogue about future projects and funding opportunities.

Further information about the formal procedures around PhD studies at UNAK is provided by the Centre for Doctoral Studies at


I can wholeheartedly recommend the doctoral program at the University of Akureyri. The program enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of my field of interest and increase my research skills. What stood out about my experience was being part of the university’s ambitious, challenging, and supportive academic community that emphasizes international collaboration. The doctoral program opened doors to new opportunities and prepared me very well for continuing research and academic work.

Dr. Karen Birna Þorvaldsdóttir
postdoctoral scholar at Reykjavik University