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About PhD studies

About PhD studies

PhD students are the most important actors of a research process in Serbia. There are many attractive programmes and courses on Serbian universities. Check out here how it works, typically.


Higher Education system in the Republic of Serbia

Our Higher Education System differentiates 2 types of studies: academic and vocational.

The Republic of Serbia joined the Bologna Process in 2003 and this has initiated the process of reforming higher education, which received its legal support in 2005 when a new Law on Higher Education was adopted. The European Credit Transfer System, three-cycle system of study and diploma supplement were formally introduced by this Law.


enable students to apply the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in the working process

  • Basic applied studies
    • last three years and have 180 ECTS
  • Specialized applied studies
    • carry 60 ECTS and last one year


Organization of doctoral studies at institutional level

Since 2006, doctoral programmes are organized in structured programmes (including courses, exams, etc,.). The processes and steps for the preparation and defence of the doctoral dissertation is regulated in general by Law on Higher Education.

Apart from independent research, PhD candidates have to attend courses, to pass exams and publish scientific articles on international level. The thesis must contain original and published results, or results accepted for publication in scientific journals listed in WoS of Thomson Reuters. The thesis subject can be a proposal from the doctoral candidate or can come from the supervisor. The final decision about the thesis subject approval comes from the Teaching and Scientific Council at the university level.

Research can be carried out in Universities (faculties), in research centre of institutes. It is organised differently among the faculties. The time spent on research varies according to the structure of the doctoral programme. Usually, the hands-on research is done in the second part of the three years programmes. The three first semesters would be devoted to courses and the last three to research.

The admission to a doctoral programme is conditional only to the completion of a master’s degree programme (prior achievement of at least 300 ECTS credits).

Supervision, mentoring and evaluation

Every doctoral student has typically one mentor. Mentor has to be employed at the “home” faculty, and is a member of the corresponding Department. It is noted that mentors often do not have much responsibility for the success of a student and are rarely trained, or re-trained. They are often supported and motivated by the faculty: the number of successful supervisions is taken into account in the elections and re-elections of the teachers and researches.

Professors are limited to mentor maximum of 5 PhD candidates at the same time. There are criteria for mentorship: mentor has to have at least five scientific papers published or accepted for publication in SCI-listed scientific journals of the related area of the study program. According to the law, the principal investigator in a research institute is not entitled to be mentor. It has to be co-mentor with a professor from a university.

Formally, there are three committees involved in the development of the doctoral thesis. All three committes are proposed by the Department of the faculty and approved by the teaching and scientific council of the faculty. The committees are not opened to the private sector. First is the committee approving the subject and the title of the thesis. Second committee is responsible for evaluation of the thesis, and the third committee is appointed for the defence. Mentors are typically members of all three committees. These committees are usually, but not necessarily, the same for a candidate and consist of three to five members. It is required that at least one member of each of the committees is not from the “home” faculty, but majority of members must be from that faculty. International experts are accepted as members of the Committees.

Status of PhD students

Doctoral candidates have the status of students according to the Law on Higher education. Some doctoral candidates, like teaching assistant have a combination of statuses: students and employees. By the new law, teaching assistants must be doctoral students. One can be selected as teaching assistant two times, each time 3 years. It is compliant with the maximal time for PhD studies (6 years).

The ministry finances scholarships and fees for doctoral students as well as research projects on which doctoral candidates can be embedded and therefore funded.

All the rights related to maternity leave, family friendly conditions etc., are not ruled at the national level. Only universities (faculties) are able to give some rights to doctoral students. Usually doctoral candidates do not have any special benefits other than social security coverage as all other citizens.

One problem related to doctoral candidates is the student age limit in the currently ruling Law of Health Care (26 years old) above which one cannot benefit anymore from the students social security coverage as one is considered as unemployed. Healthcare will then be provided in the city of origin of the doctoral student (which can be another city than the one of the studies).

If a doctoral candidate has to stop its research (for health problem, pregnancy,…) the ministry of Science and Technology allows to freeze the student status for a year. But it will stop to pay scholarships.

Networked doctoral studies

At the level of doctoral programmes, Serbia is participating in the SEE Doctoral programmes in Mathematical sciences, Tempus IV programme and Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate scheme.

From the PhD Students, to PhD students

Report from the survey on doctoral studies in Serbia

The project WebInUnion, funded by the European Commission carried out a survey on the perception of the PhD students in Serbia on the quality of the doctoral studies.

Read the report


Educational development strategy


Strategy for the development of education in RS by 2020

The government has adopted, at the meeting on 25 October 2012, the Education Development Strategy in Serbia until 2020 (hereinafter: the Strategy). The strategy was published in the "Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia", No. 107/12.Strategy is concerned with identifying the purpose, goals, directions, instruments and mechanisms of development of the education system in the Republic of Serbia until 2020.

Action Plan for the implementation of the Education Development Strategy in Serbia until 2020 specifies the individual activities (actions) defined the objectives and priorities of the Strategy, developed methods of implementation, deadlines, key holders and executors, instruments and indicators monitored (indicators) of progress, as well as procedures reporting and assessment of the effects of planned strategic measures.

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