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Third-cycle (PhD) programmes


7.Higher education

7.5 Third-cycle (PhD) programmes

Last update: 27 November 2023

Organisation of doctoral studies


Higher education of the third cycle is achieved by completing a PhD study programme. The PhD study programme focuses on acquisition of knowledge based on the present state of scientific and artistic knowledge and, particularly, on the student’s contribution to it, which is a result of scientific research and independent creative activity in the field of science or technology or independent theoretical and creative activity in the field of art.

The division of the study fields is similar to that of the first two levels of higher education. The number of study fields of the third level is higher compared to the first and second cycle.

The standard length of full-time study is three or four academic years. The part-time study takes five academic years at most. The PhD study consists of two parts – the study and research.


Admission requirements


The admission to PhD study is conditional on successful completion of higher education of the second level.

Before the admission procedure, the higher education institution or faculty define the topics of dissertation theses to be applied for by the applicant. A supervisor is appointed for each topic. The applicant for PhD study will choose one of the announced topics. External educational institutions may publish the topics either independently or in cooperation with a higher education institution or faculty.

The admission interview is carried out in the training institute before the admission commission which is represented by members of the higher education institution and members chosen by the head of the external educational institution if it sets the topics. The members of the admission commission from the higher education institution are chosen by the dean and/or rector. The admission examination may be taken in an external education institution if the higher education institution or the faculty and the external educational institution agree so. The decision on the result of the admission procedure must be made within 30 days from the verification of fulfilling the conditions for admission to the study. The PhD study has both full-time and part-time forms of study.


Status of PhD students/candidates


The training institution provides full-time PhD students with a scholarship for the period of their study.  The claim for scholarship expires if the student has already received higher education of the third level or if the student exceeds the standard length of the study programme. The minimum length of the PhD scholarship is set by law. The scholarship is not subject to taxation.

Full-time PhD students under 30 years of age are persons insured by the State for health insurance purposes. Social insurance may be arranged on a voluntary basis. Part-time PhD students are not insured on the basis of their study and have no right to receive a scholarship.


Supervision arrangements


PhD study applicants are admitted to a  specific thesis topic and supervisor . The course of the PhD study is continuously monitored by a special commission that approves the proposal of the study part of the PhD student study submitted by the supervisor . The higher education institution creates conditions for implementation of the research part of student’s studies, either through individual research or involvement in a research team.  If an external educational institution takes part in the study, the research takes place in the institution.




In the case of PhD study programmes, there are no special tools applied for monitoring employability. The requirements within the framework of accreditation procedure are based on the same principles as those at the first and second cycle.




A credit system is applied appropriately in order to assess PhD study programmes.  The study of PhD students is a subject of annual assessment which is connected with accumulation of credits for individual activities of  PhD students. A part of the PhD study is the completion of the dissertation examination; to complete the study, defense of the dissertation thesis is required.

The annual evaluation of PhD students rests in the evaluation of the state and level of the PhD study, inspection of fulfilling the set assignments of the study and scientific parts of the PhD study. The annual evaluation of the PhD student is carried out by the supervisor in cooperation with the PhD student in a written form. He/she submits it to the head of the training. 

The dissertation examination and the defense of the dissertation thesis are a part of the State examination. The examination commission has at least 4 members. If the PhD student has applied for the dissertation topic proposed by an external educational institution, both the dissertation examination and the defense of the dissertation thesis take place before the commission in which there is a parity representation of the members of the higher education institution and the members determined by the external educational institution.




The PhD study is completed by the defense of a dissertation thesis after completing dissertation examination.

PhD study graduates are issued diplomas showing the name of the higher education institution, faculty, study field, and study programme; in case the PhD study took place in an external educational institution, also the name of the latter. 

PhD study graduates are awarded the academic degree of  "doctor of philosophy" abbreviated as PhD and the academic degree of  "doctor of arts" abbreviated as ArtD in arts  PhD study programmes.

After the initial comprehensive part of theory PhD study, the PhD graduates in the field of Catholic Theology are awarded the academic degree of "licentiate of theology" (abbr. ThLic.). The graduates of PhD study in these areas are also awarded the academic degree of "doctor of theology" (abbr. ThDr.).


Organisational variation


Non-standard forms of PhD study are not provided. In case of the part-time form of study, students usually carry out research outside the higher education institution/faculty, but the requirements for regular completion of the study are the same as in the full-time form of study.


Legislative references


National Council of the Slovak Republic, 2002. Act No. 131/2002 on higher education and on the change and supplement to some acts as amended by subsequent provision (Zákon č. 131/2002 Z.z. o vysokých školách a zmene a doplnení niektorých zákonov) (last accessed 21/12/2022).