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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Third-cycle (PhD) programmes


7.Higher education

7.5Third-cycle (PhD) programmes

Last update: 27 November 2023

Organisation of Doctoral Studies

The purpose of a PhD study programme is to develop a scientific and critical way of thinking, as well as to educate professionals capable of working independently on scientific research and on the development of new technologies/methods in order to contribute to the overall progress of society and science.

Doctoral studies (PhD) are organised at universities (faculties within universities) and last for three years (180 ECTS). To enrol in a doctoral programme, the student must have completed a Master course and obtained at least 300 ECTS during his/her previous studies, or 360 ECTS in the case of medical studies. PhD programmes involve extensive scientific research and publication of papers in scientific journals. A PhD thesis is the final part of the doctoral study programme, except in case of arts study programmes, where PhD candidates are required to create an artistic project as the final part of their PhD studies.

The PhD thesis carries at least 50% of the total number of ECTS at this level of studies. The preparation procedure and conditions for the defending of the PhD thesis are defined by the particular higher education institution’s general act, subject to the opinion of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development. The institution where the PhD thesis is defended has the obligation to make it available to the public on its web page, alongside a printed version of the work, which needs to be available in the institution’s library at least 30 days prior to the adoption of the commission report and defending of the thesis.

The university is obliged to establish a digital repository containing electronic versions of all defended theses, along with reports submitted by respective commissions for thesis evaluation, data about respective mentors and commission members, and information about copyright protection. All of the foregoing documentation must be made available to the public. A copy of each thesis has to be sent to the central repository of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development within 3 months. Such a repository is expected to be set up in the near future.

Admission Requirements

Higher education institutions individually determine their PhD enrolment rates in line with estimated needs of society for the development of science, education and arts, but also bearing in mind their capacities in terms of space and human resources.

General admission requirements are: at least 300 ECTS, or 360 in the case of integrated medical study programs, and fluency in at least one foreign language. Candidates are also assessed on the basis of their average grades from previous levels of studies, their professional skills and previous accomplishments.

Status of Doctoral Students/Candidates

Both employed and unemployed students have equal rights in terms of eligibility for any particular program and a state-financed status, as long as they meet all other preconditions as required. Unemployed students are entitled to all benefits and rights as those granted at the previous levels of study - health insurance, student subsidies for meals, public transport and scholarships). On the other hand, employed students exercise such rights through their employee status.

Supervision Arrangements

In order to organize PhD study programmes, the higher education institution has to observe the specific selection criteria applicable to PhD teaching staff. Such criteria include the number of published papers and involvement in scientific projects.

A PhD mentor must have at least 5 works published in eminent scientific journals over the past ten years. A PhD mentor can have a maximum of 5 students under his/her supervision at a time.


While cooperation between higher education institutions and employers is not formally regulated in Serbia, there are examples of good and long lasting cooperation between universities and companies.


Students are assessed on the basis of their overall performance and engagement, as well as on the basis of credits earned through their exams and pre-examination activities. The PhD thesis, being the final part of the studies, is assessed on the basis of its scientific or artistic significance and contribution to the field in question. It represents an independent scientific research paper. Each higher education institution sets its general rules of application procedure and PhD thesis defense, which apply to all of its constituent departments.


Once the student has completed all of their examination obligations and the defended their PhD thesis, they receive a diploma stating their official title – Doctor of Sciences. The competent certifying authority is the higher education institution where the PhD studies took place. The authorities responsible for assessment standards are the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance.

ENIC/NARIC Serbia (European Network of Information Centres in the European Region/National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union) regulates the procedures for recognition of diplomas acquired abroad, for purposes of employment. Recognition of diplomas for purposes of continuing education is decided upon by the higher education institutions in question.