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Third-cycle (PhD) programmes

Republic of North Macedonia

7.Higher education

7.5Third-cycle (PhD) programmes

Last update: 27 November 2023



•1 Organization of doctoral studies

The third cycle of studies (doctoral studies) lasts at least 3 years, offers at least 180 credits and qualifications earned after completing the doctoral studies correspond to the level VIII from the National Qualification Framework (NQF) and level VIII from the European Qualification Framework (EQF). The universities may also organize third study cycle with duration less than 3 years that leads to a specialist (spec.) degree, i.e. a specialist in respected area.

The HE Law 2018 specifies that Doctoral studies may be organized only by the first seven universities/HEIs ranked highest at the national university ranking. The decision for commencement of the work of the third cycle study programs is made by the Government after accreditation given by the Accreditation Board and after the received positive report on the fulfilment of the conditions for commencement of the work of the study programs. The decision must be published on the website of the Quality Assurance Agency. If the university/ HEI loses the status of being among the seven highest ranking HEIs at the next subsequent ranking, the university will no longer be entitled to enrol candidates in the third cycle doctoral studies. If the university enrol new candidates, the Accreditation Board will issue a decision to revoke the accreditation decision for all study cycles for which it has been accredited.

Doctoral studies are organized in the following seven scientific research areas of the International Frascati classification: 1) natural-mathematical sciences; 2) technical-technological sciences; 3) medical sciences and health; 4) agricultural and veterinary sciences; 5) Social Sciences; 6) Humanities; and 7) Arts.

Doctoral studies at the biggest and the oldest university in the country University "Ss. Cyril and Methodius” in Skopje (UKIM), at the University “Goce Delcev” in Shtip and at the public-private non-for profit South East European University at Tetovo are organized in the format of Doctoral schools. The University School for Doctoral Studies at the University "Ss. Cyril and Methodius” in Skopje is implemented jointly with faculties and public scientific institutes, members of the university and coordinated by the University Expert/Professional Council for doctoral studies. Doctoral studies at UKIM can be also organized and as interdisciplinary study programs in two or more scientific areas, and as joint degree doctoral program in cooperation with one or more universities in the country or abroad.  


•2 Admission requirements

A student who has completed a relevant postgraduate (master), second cycle study program and have earned at least 300 (or for some study programs a total of 360) ECTS from previous (first and the second) cycles of studies can enroll in the doctoral studies. The universities may set the additional enrollment requirements (e.g. minimum GPA from previous academic cycles of 8.00 and B2 level ELP English Language Proficiency).

The number of third-cycle students enrolling in a public HEI is proposed by the HEI and is decided by the Government. The decision on the number of third-cycle students enrolling in a private HEI is also subject to approval by the Government, on the proposal of the Teaching and or/Scientific Council of the private scientific institution (Article 151 of the HE Law 2018). The total number of students cannot exceed the number and the maximum capacity determined with the accreditation of both, the public and private higher education institutions. The number of students enrolled at the doctoral study program is determined based on the number of vacancies of accredited mentors, in accordance with personnel, spatial, technical and other opportunities of the University and the units, as well as with social needs.

At Doctoral studies of the Faculty of Pharmacy can enroll candidates who have completed 5 years’ study program and earned graduated pharmacist degree; candidates who have obtained a MSc degree in pharmacy or who have completed a bachelor pharmacy study program that lasted 4 years and have completed health specialization in duration of 3 years.

At Doctoral studies of the Faculty of Medicine can enroll candidates who have completed medical studies of 360 credits and obtained a doctor of medicine degree, and are undergoing a second half of the health specialization; candidates enrolling doctoral studies in the field of general medicine for which there is no health specialization, have at least two in extenso papers as the first author, published in magazines with international editorial board and minimum GPA of 8.0 from the first and second cycle studies/ integrated studies.  

At Doctoral studies of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine can enroll candidates with completed integrated first and second cycle studies in the field of veterinary medicine, medicine and medical sciences, i.e. completed second cycle studies of related areas of natural mathematics and biotechnical sciences; candidates who have completed the study program lasting ten semesters (before the introduction of the ECTS) and obtained a doctor of veterinary medicine degree, candidates with completed specialist studies from relevant and related areas; candidates who completed medical studies lasting ten semesters (before the introduction of the ESTC) and have completed the second cycle of studies.

At Doctoral studies of the Faculty of Dentistry can enroll candidates who have completed their first-cycle study program, obtained Doctor of dentistry degree and are underway in the second half from health specialization; persons who have completed their studies programs and obtained Doctor of Dental medicine degree, and are in the second half from health specialization.

At Doctoral studies of the Faculty of Architecture can enroll candidates who have completed architecture studies lasting ten semesters ( before the introduction of the ESTC),  candidates who have acquired the title specialist within the third cycle studies, whereby these candidates are recognized at most 60 credits.

At Doctoral studies of the The Faculty of Dramatic Arts (for film and theater directing) can enroll third cycle students who, except for the basic / general conditions, have recorded and presented on film festivals at least two documentaries or feature film, or set at least two performances on professional theater stages.

The relevance/suitability of the previously completed studies are determined by the Council of the study program.


•3 Status of doctoral students/candidates

Doctoral studies have a character of private studies and are fully paid by the candidates. Doctoral candidates are legally considered as students and not as employees of the university thus cannot enjoy all rights of a university employee (healthcare, social security and pension rights). Doctoral students usually have jobs outside the university and they are entitled to healthcare, social security and pension rights from their primary, non-university employers.

Doctoral student is obliged to pass all exams and complete other duties determined by the study program (including the research work and public defense of the doctoral thesis) within 6 years from the enrollment. After the given deadline, the student loses the status of doctoral student. Under exceptional circumstances when research requires longer period of time, 2-year extension can be approved.


•4 Supervision arrangements

Accreditation of third cycle study programmes includes the list of the mentors at doctoral studies. During one academic year, one university teacher (academic staff member) may be appointed as mentor to up to 3 candidates that prepare their doctoral dissertation. The mentor of the PhD candidate / doctoral thesis may be a full - time or associate professor from the relevant scientific field who is employed at HEI, a full - time or associate professor whose working relation is on standby or a regular professor in retirement. The mentor must be accredited as a mentor of PhD thesis by the Accreditation Board, under the conditions s/he have published six scientific papers in a reference scientific publication or have achieved at least three relevant top art performances at relevant domestic and international events according to a list drawn up by the National Council. (Article 136 of the HE Law 2018).

The mentor signs initial consent for acceptance of mentor responsibilities and final consent upon admission of student(s) to the doctoral studies. Doctoral students sign study agreement. The contract is signed by the manager of the study program, the dean / director of the unit and the student. When the study program is organized by two or more units, the contract for study is signed by the co-manager of the joint study program and the dean/ the director of the unit where s/he is studying, the mentor and the student.

A doctoral study program mainly entails active, mentored research work that includes:

  • Academic training of advanced and professional courses;
  • A mentored, independent research projects (doctoral project);
  • International mobility and at least one-week study stay abroad;
  • Lecturers and other type of activities;
  • Publishing in referent scientific publications and active participation at international gatherings related to the doctoral dissertation;
  • Public defense of the doctoral dissertation.

The mentor advises, consults and guides the doctoral student during the studies; instructs about the literature; assists in choosing the courses; helps and introduces the student to the research methods; gives opinions, suggestions, remarks and proposals during the preparation of doctoral dissertation; participates in the work of the doctoral students, seminars and conferences etc. At the proposal of the student and the mentor, the Council of the study program may assign co-mentor from another study program, as well as from another university in the country or from abroad. During the studies, the mentor could be changed under the conditions prescribed with the HE Law and relevant universities sub-laws.


•5 Employability

The state doesn’t provide financial support for a doctoral training and the new academic posts at state universities in the country are subject to government approval. Therefore, the opportunities for research and/or project engagement of the potential academics during their doctoral studies are limited, alike the employment opportunities (in and outside the university) upon successful completion of the studies.

However, some doctoral students may be engaged at universities /HEIs as Demonstrators, (junior academic posts) that are not paid by the state budget, but from the higher education institution revenues as a way for overcoming the shortage of young academic teaching staff. A demonstrator assists the teaching process at the first study cycle of the faculty or higher vocational school. S/he can be elected for a period of one academic year and a possibility for reelection two more times at the same university unit. The election procedure as well as the rights and obligations of a demonstrator in the teaching and educational process are regulated by a general act of the university, of the single higher vocational school or of the university unit.


•6 Assessment

The HEIs’ acts regulate the awarding of ECTS (up to 30 ECTS credits per semester) and prescribe the credits needed for registration for doctoral thesis. The assessment of students’ knowledge is done by taking exams conducted in written and / or oral manner, as well as in another way determined by the study program. The assessment scale is expressed in numbers from 6 (six) being the lowest positive grade to 10 (ten) the highest.

Each doctoral student is assigned a mentor accredited by the Accreditation Board to guide her/him through the process. The mentor assesses the student's success in his/her work and submits (at least once annually) a written report to the Council of the doctoral study program. The study program for doctoral studies has a compulsory requirement for developing a doctoral dissertation (doktorski trud/doktorska disertacija) as final part of the studies. Doctoral thesis is expected to be independent research paper, an original work that is assessed on the basis of its contribution to the relevant scientific field. It is also subject to a public defense, in front of the five members’ commission in academic ranks of full professor or associate professor. Public defense will not be allowed unless the doctoral candidate has published at least two academic papers in referent scientific journals.


•7 Certification

After completing all obligations with the exams, the prescribed number of credits and public defense of the doctoral dissertation, a certificate for completed doctoral studies is issued, signed by the Dean / Director of the university unit, and in the cases of a joint study program, the certificate is signed by the Dean / Director of the unit where the mentor of the candidate who defended doctoral dissertation is employed.

The University issues a Diploma for completed higher education from the third cycle of university studies and acquired scientific titles - Doctor of Science (, PhD) or Doctor of Arts( defined with the study program. The diploma is signed by the Rector and the Dean / director of the university unit. Promotion of the persons who have been awarded the title of doctor of science is performed by the university Rector, according to a procedure regulated with the university Statute.

The title specialist is awarded upon completion of third-cycle studies of less than three years duration and its abbreviation (spec.) is added to the academic title acquired from the second cycle of academic studies. The University may determine that after the completion of specialist studies of third cycle, a different title can be acquired, in the case where, for a particular area of expertise, special education is prescribed by a special law.

The ENIC-NARIC center operates within the Ministry of Education and Science with the role of the Information center for recognition of foreign higher education qualifications, considering the provisions of the Convention for recognition of academic qualifications, the National Qualification Framework (NQF), and the European qualification framework (EQF).




Правилник за условите, критериумите и правилата за запишување и студирање на трет циклус академски студии - докторски студии на Универзитетот „Св. Кирил и Методиј” во Скопје, Универзитетски гласник бр. 530/2020


Правилник за условите, критериумите и правилата за запишување и студирање на трет циклус студии на Универзитетот „Св. Климент Охридски“ -Битола (пречистен текст)


Правилник за условите, критериумите и правилата за запишување и студирање на трет циклус на академски студии – докторски студии на Универзитетот „Гоце Делчев“ во Штип,  бр. 42/2019