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After you graduate

Your doctoral studentship is for a fixed-term and you receive a salary for your studies for a maximum of four years of full-time employment. One piece of good advice is to start thinking about what you want to do after graduating and look at the opportunities that are available as soon as possible before the end of your employment.

Your degree opens the door to many exciting career opportunities. Do you want a career in academia? Or maybe in business or the public sector? Below we have gathered information about some of your options as a PhD.

Postdoctoral positions

If you are interested in continuing your academic career, one of the most common options is to take a postdoctoral position abroad or at another higher education institution in Sweden. One or more such positions will provide you with good opportunities for acquiring additional research experience and qualifications after graduating. However, competition for funding for postdoctoral positions is tough, so consult your supervisor as soon as possible about future career opportunities. You should also build networks and contacts with other researchers and potential research environments during your doctoral studentship.

If you want to continue with a postdoctoral position straight after you receive your doctoral degree, you should be aware that you must apply well in advance. For example, you may need to submit an application in November/December for a postdoctoral position that starts in the autumn of the following year. Many financiers demand that you have received your doctoral degree within two years of the application deadline, but this can vary. You should always read the advertisement carefully.

A postdoctoral position is usually financed through research funding or scholarships, but there are also ones that entail employment at the university or institution where the postdoctoral position is.

Swedish financiers

A selection of Swedish financiers that offer postdoctoral grants/scholarships or other funding for young researchers are:

EU funding

Horizon Europe is the current EU framework programme for research and innovation. You can find calls for proposals on the Participation Portal, but you need to register first. Read more about registration and what you should consider if you are planning to participate in an application as part of Horizon Europe, either as a partner or as a coordinator, on the page Internationell finansiering [Swedish only].

If you have questions about calls, project applications and external funding, contact one of the research advisers at External Relations.

Other forms of employment in academia

In academia, a postdoctoral position is a common form of employment for recent doctoral graduates, but you can also apply for jobs as an associate senior lecturer. The purpose of these positions is that the lecturer has the opportunity to develop their autonomy as a researcher and to obtain scholarly and educational merits that fulfil the requirements for employment as senior lecturer. This form of employment is limited to a minimum of four years and a maximum of six, which is decided by the university prior to employment.

You can also apply for employment as a senior lecturer, but competition for these jobs can be tough – particularly in some subjects – because they require more extensive research and teaching qualifications.

Another common option is to be a joint applicant on a research project. If the project is granted funding, you can be employed on the project as a project-specific researcher.

The labour market for people with doctoral degrees who want a career in business is generally good, and there is growing demand for a higher level of competence in business in general, as well as for specialised skills. With a doctorate, you are used to autonomously analysing, structuring and processing information – and these are attractive qualities that businesses want. Many doctoral graduates are also used to working in international environments. Many companies have specific departments for research and development, where they have a natural interest in employing staff with doctoral degrees.

Another sector that wants people with doctoral degrees is the public sector, i.e. municipalities, regions and public agencies. They also have departments for research and development that want to recruit people with the expertise possessed by doctoral graduates.

One suggestion is to remember to highlight your social skills when you apply for a job. An employer is often not only looking for academic qualifications, but also for someone who fits in well in the workplace.

Degree certificate

After completing your doctorate or licentiate degree, you should apply for your degree certificate as soon as possible. It could be necessary for you to be able to apply for project funding and may also mean that you have a higher salary than if you have not applied for your degree. Read more about how to apply for a degree certificate here.


Employment on a doctoral studentship entitles you to unemployment insurance (a-kassa). You must have been a member of your a-kassa (unemployment insurance fund) for at least 12 months before the end of your employment. Remember to sign up well in advance, so you avoid any gap in income and so the payment you receive is based on your income over your last 12 months in employment. You are only entitled to payments if you have worked in Sweden during this period and if you have worked more than half time for the past six months.

To be able to receive a-kassa payments, you must have finished your studies, i.e. given up your place or have a thesis ready for printing. Having finished studying is a condition for you to be classed as unemployed. If your studies are not complete, you must have definitively withdrawn from studying to be entitled to payments. How your studied were funded is of no relevance when an a-kassa assesses when you are unemployed or not.

You cannot receive payments during a break in your work on the thesis, because you have not finished your studies; it does not matter whether the break is long or short, voluntary or involuntary.

When your thesis is finished, you may be entitled to receive payments even if your public defence has not been held, but you must be able to prove that work on your thesis is over and is ready for printing. Your studies are considered finished even if there are minor editorial changes to be made, such as questions from the printer. On the day of your public defence, you report that you are not available for work.

The usual a-kassa for graduates to join is Akademikernas a-kassa External link, opens in new window. (AEA), but there are others. There is a search function on Sveriges a-kassors website External link, opens in new window., called “Hitta din a-kassa External link, opens in new window.”, which provides suggestions for which unemployment insurance fund you can apply to join.

Trygghetsstiftelsen – the Job Security Foundation

If you are unemployed after your doctoral studentship, you are entitled to use services from the Job Security Foundation External link, opens in new window., which provides public employees with support on the road to a new job once their employment ends. The HR officer sends them a report when a doctoral studentship comes to an end.


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2024-03-15 by Elisabet Möller