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Third-cycle (PhD) programmes


7.Higher education

7.5Third-cycle (PhD) programmes

Last update: 27 November 2023

Organisation of doctoral studies

According to Law 4957/2022, the third cycle of studies is referred to the organization of Doctoral Study Programs, with a minimum duration of three (3) academic years, the successful completion of which leads to level eight (8) degree of the National and European Qualifications Framework.

According to Law 4957/2022, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) may organize third-cycle study programs, which aim to promote original scientific research and to make a substantial contribution to the development of knowledge at least in one (1 ) scientific field and lead to the acquisition of a doctoral degree after the preparation and successful support of a doctoral thesis.

The third-cycle study programs include the mandatory preparation of a doctoral thesis in a subject related to the scientific area of the Department and may include an independent program of doctoral study courses, which consists of the attendance and successful completion of an integrated course or other educational or research activities, which correspond to a minimum of thirty (30) credits (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System ECTS).

The doctoral studies regulation sets:

  1. The terms and conditions of the organisation of third cycle study programmes and entry of non-Master’s graduates as PhD students
  2. The deadline for submission of applications, the supporting documents and the language of the thesis
  3. The supervision of the doctoral thesis
  4. The maximum number of doctorate candidates for each supervisor
  5. Any additional duties of doctorate candidates
  6. All issues relevant to the organisation and operation of third cycle programmes.

The duration of studies for the acquisition of a PhD degree is at least 3 years. Six (6) calendar years are defined as the maximum duration for the completion of the doctoral thesis.

Finally, the faculties and departments of HEIs have been classified according to 4 scientific fields (see Chapter 7.2.1 Bachelor - Branches of study).

According to Law 4957/2022, HEIs can organize industrial PhD’s. Candidates who meet the conditions for enrollment in doctoral study programs may submit an application for the preparation of a doctoral thesis in collaboration with a company or industry, based or its has subsidiary operations in the country, which concerns the conduct of industrial or applied research with the aim of extracting research results to produce innovative products or services. The cooperating company or industry designates one (1) representative with experience and knowledge related to the subject of the doctoral thesis, whose task is to guide the doctoral candidate. The representative of the business or industry may participate, without the right to vote, in the meetings of the three-member advisory committee and the seven-member examination committee, expressing his opinions.

Admission requirements

Eligible to apply for a doctoral thesis are postgraduate degree holders of:

  • Greek higher education institutions
  • Equivalent foreign institutions
  • Integrated master’s qualification according to law 4957/2022.

In exceptional cases, non-Masters’ Degree holders, may be accepted as PhD students.

PhD candidates have to submit an application to the secretary of the respective department. 

Their application must include:

  • The proposed title
  • The language of the thesis (other than Greek if this is foreseen in the doctoral studies regulation)
  • The name of the provisional supervisor.

Candidates also submit the following:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Thesis draft
  • Any other documents defined by the doctoral studies regulation.

The department’s general assembly classifies the doctorate candidates’ applications on the basis of relevance to the research field. Next, it appoints a committee of 3 academic staff members of the department concerned.

The committee’s first duty is to examine the applications and interview the candidates. 

After that, the committee makes a proposal towards the department’s general assembly, where it states:

  • The reasons whether the candidate should be accepted or not
  • The provisional supervisor, in case he/she has not already been proposed by the candidate.

The general assembly takes into account the supervisor’s opinion and the committee’s proposal.  It approves or disapproves the candidate’s application justifying its decision.  In case of approval, the language of the thesis is also defined.

Universities may issue calls for doctorate candidates.  In these, they define:

  • The terms and conditions
  • Deadlines
  • The application procedure
  • Additional information on the candidates’ duties, such as time limits for the completion of the doctoral thesis.

Status of doctoral students - candidates

Doctorate candidates (ypopsifioi didaktores) are students who follow the third cycle of studies at Universities.

Moreover, for 5 academic years, they have the same rights and provisions as second cycle programmes students.  This is defined in the institutions’ regulation. 

They also have access to the electronic services of university libraries for 5 years after the completion of their thesis.

According to law 4452/2017, doctorate candidates are entitled to full medical and hospital care in the National Health System (ESY), if they have no other medical and hospital care.  This also applies to bachelor and Master’s students.  The National Organisation for the Provision of Health Care Services (EOPPY) covers the expenses.

Similarly, they are entitled to transport facilities and other means promoting their cultural development and supporting their recreation.

Finally, according to the law 4009/2011, doctorate candidates have free catering and accommodation services, taking into account:

  • Their personal and family financial situation
  • Their own and the institution’s location
  • The special conditions that exist in each institution.

Supervision arrangements

Writing a doctoral dissertation is a process which demands close cooperation between:

  1. The doctorate candidate
  2. His/her supervisor.

The department’s general assembly appoints for each doctorate candidate:

  • A supervisor
  • A three-member advisory committee.

The committee’s main duty is to provide mentoring to doctoral candidates. The supervisor is one of the three members of the advisory committee.

The supervisors are academic staff members, with the rank of professor, associate professor or assistant professor.  They may be members of the department concerned or another university, or researchers of a research centre.

If the supervisor cannot attend to his/her duties, the department’s general assembly has the right to appoint another supervisor, under certain conditions.

HEIs may collaborate with research centres and institutes. These include the research centres of the Academy of Athens and the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens.  In these cases, the doctoral thesis may be co-supervised.


There are no available data on the employability of PhD holders.  PhD holders may follow an academic career or work in the public or private sector.

However, Innovation and Career Offices that operate within HEIs, offer:

  • Information and career counselling services
  • Support of students in the diagnosis of their inclinations and skills
  • Access to the labour market.

More information can be found in chapters 7.2.1 Bachelor – Employability and 7.3 Second cycle programmes – Employability.


According to the law 4485/2017, PhD students defend their thesis with a public presentation.

More specifically, on completion of the doctorate thesis, the candidate submits a request to a three-member advisory committee for the public support and evaluation of his/her thesis.

If the advisory committee accepts the candidate’s request, they draft a detailed introductory report.  They submit it to the department’s general assembly asking for the appointment of a seven-member committee responsible for the evaluation of the thesis.

The process of public defense presupposes the presence of 4 members of the evaluation committee.  The rest may attend it through a teleconference call.

Following the above-mentioned procedure, the committee sits in session and evaluates the thesis in terms of:

  • Quality
  • Inclusiveness
  • Originality
  • Contribution to the academic field.

For the thesis approval, the assent of at least 5 members of the evaluation committee is required.


If the examination committee approves the doctoral thesis, candidates are awarded their doctoral degrees by the department general assembly in its ordinary composition.

The doctoral degree is signed by the rector, the president and the secretary of the institution concerned.  It bears a qualitative description as judged by the examining committee i.e.:

  • "Good"
  • "Very Good"
  • "Excellent".

The PhD degree is considered valid and fully accredited.

Organisational variations

There is no substantial variation in the organisational structure and methodological emphasis of doctoral studies in Greece, even if they are carried out through distance learning, as i.e. the Hellenic Open University.

The Hellenic Open University

The Hellenic Open University (HOU) awards doctoral degrees according to the provisions regulating higher education and the supplementary provisions of the law 2552/1997 on the institution establishment.

The internal doctoral studies regulation of operation specifies:

  • The admission requirements for doctoral candidates
  • The evaluation process with regard to the doctoral theses progress.

The doctoral studies regulation of HOU determines issues on doctoral theses.  The new doctoral studies regulation is issued at faculty level.

Students interested to conduct a doctoral thesis in the HOU, should communicate with a member of the academic staff.  The scientific interests of the latter must be relevant to the scientific field, in which the candidate wishes to conduct the thesis.

The academic staff member is going to assess the candidate’s interests and qualifications and urge him/her to apply to the dean of the faculty.

Based on academic criteria and upon recommendation of the academic staff member supervising the doctoral thesis, the dean decides if the candidate actually fulfils the conditions for a doctoral thesis.  He also appoints the academic staff member recommended by the doctoral candidate as his/her supervisor.

The time provided for the doctoral thesis is divided into 3 periods.  PhD candidates must pay contribution fees for their doctoral studies at the beginning of each period.

The doctoral degree is signed by the rector, the president and the secretary of the university.  It bears the university’s seal.

The total study period, from the registration day until the doctoral thesis conclusion and compilation, cannot be less than 4 full academic years (or 3, if no attendance of a module is required).  Research work per se for a doctoral thesis cannot last less than 3 years.

Doctoral candidates enjoy postgraduate students’ rights for no more than 8 years from their registration in the doctoral studies programme.  After this period is over, they lose their doctoral candidate status.