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Third-cycle (PhD) programmes


7.Higher education

7.5Third-cycle (PhD) programmes

Last update: 15 February 2024

Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

The third cycle study programmes of higher education in Albania include the following forms:

  • ‘Executive Master’ study programmes (Master Ekzekutiv);
  • ‘Specialization Diploma’ (Diplomë specializimi);
  • Doctoral studies (Studimet e doktoratës);  

The third cycle study programmes includes the ‘Executive Master’ study programmes, the long-term specializing study programmes as well as the doctorate studies in reference to level 8 of Albanian Framework of Qualifications, EQF 8. ‘Executive Master’ study programmes offer a high level of scientific and professional education. They have a normal duration of one or two academic years and are organized in 60 or 120 credits. They are completed with a graduation thesis and the ‘Executive Master’ degree is conferred for the relevant educational field.

Long-term specializing study programmes are vocational oriented programmes that offer a specialised professional knowledge. They last at least two academic years with not less than 120 credits. They are completed with a comprehensive training examination or with a graduation thesis. At the end, a ‘Specialization Diploma’ (Diplomëspecializimi) is conferred for the relevant educational field. 

Organisation of Doctoral Studies

Doctoral studies are designed as individual programmes intended to promote independent research in the field provided by the basic unit or the main unit. They rely on scientific research and creative activities. Doctorate studies last not less than three academic years and not more than five academic years. Doctoral studies lead to the degree of ‘Doctor’ (Doktor). Higher education institutions provide themselves for the criteria of annual assessment for the progress of candidates and the work carried out in research. Higher education institutions, which meet the criteria for offering doctorate studies, apply for funding to National Agency of Scientific Research and Innovation or other funding institutions.

Doctoral studies are conducted on a full-time basis within the basic unit or on a part-time basis in those cases when the doctorate candidate is employed as academic staff in another higher education institution or as research staff in an institution of basic or applied research. When doctorate studies are carried out in collaboration with other higher education institutions, some parts of the research project may be implemented in collaborating institutions.

The basic unit provides the number of doctorate students and the research project of each doctorate student must relate to the unit research activities.

In order to conduct doctoral studies, the student may benefit funds from other subjects or be self-funded.

Admission Requirements

Admission to third cycle degree programmes is possible for those candidates who hold a ‘Master of Science’ or ‘Master of Arts’ degree and meet the admissibility criteria, provided by the higher education institution. An additional criterion to access a third cycle study programme is the knowledge by the candidate of one out of five foreign languages of the European Union (English, French, German, Italian and Spanish), certified by internationally recognized examinations, in compliance with the respective directive of Ministry of Education and Sports. If the individual has obtained a degree in one of the aforementioned languages, the obtained degree is an evidence for meeting the criterion. The basic units provide the admissibility criteria in the third cycle study programmes pursuant to quality standards provided by the State and made public.

Higher education institutions transmit the list of graduates in the third cycle programmes to the line ministry in order to be entered in the State register of scientific degrees and academic credentials.

Status of Doctoral Students/Candidates

Doctoral studentsare all entitled as PhD candidates.

Supervision Arrangements

PhD programmes are drafted by universities and the arrangement with supervisors are drafted by Higher education institutions.


Information same with previous sections


Being the final part of studies, PhD thesis is assessed on the basis of its scientific or artistic significance and contribution to the relevant field. It represents an independent scientific research paper. Each higher education institution sets the general rules for the application procedure and PhD thesis defence, which apply to all its departments.


Once students have completed all their examination obligations and have defended their PhD thesis, they receive the diploma stating their official title “Doctor”, (Doktor).