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Studying for a doctorate

Doctoral programmes are intended for those holding a degree and who would like to expand their knowledge of and carry out research in a specific area linked to their previous studies. To obtain the title of doctor, students must have completed a period of formal instruction and a period of research. The collective term for all of the educational and research activities that lead to the obtainment of a doctorate is the doctoral programme, which comprises three periods: the teaching period, research period and writing and public defence of the doctoral thesis.

Each university establishes the admissions procedures and criteria for any doctoral programme at any point, such as the need for prior specific training in certain disciplines. At the start of the research period, universities will issue the corresponding certificate that is considered a necessary requirement for contracting research students for internships.

To gain admission to a doctoral programme in the teaching period, students must meet the same criteria as for admission to an official university master’s degree. To gain admission to a doctoral programme in the research period, students must have an official university master's degree or a qualification of the same level awarded by a higher education institution within the European Higher Education Area. The admissions application should be submitted directly to the university the student wishes to attend.

The title of 'European PhD with distinction' can be used if the following criteria are fulfilled:

  1. During the period of study, the PhD student must spend a minimum of three months in a higher education institute or research centre in a European Union Member State either following a course of study or working on research projects that have been recognised by the university.
  2. Part of the doctoral thesis, at least the abstract and the conclusions, must be written and presented in one of the official EU languages other than the official languages of Spain.
  3. The doctoral thesis must be supervised by at least two experts from a higher education institution or research institute of a European Union Member State.
  4. The doctoral thesis to be defended at the university at which the doctorand is enrolled must be supervised by at least one expert from a higher education institution or research institute of a European Union Member State other than Spain, who holds the title of doctor and is not the supervisor mentioned in sections a) and c).