I have developed a logical and consistent body of research of 8 papers about a research topic. I've heard I can do a PhD by published work.

It is just compiling the papers and writing the scope and importance of the papers in 5000-10000 words, then the viva.

I know universities in the UK where I can do this, but they charge like 4,000 - 5,000 GBP for the submission.

Do you know other universities in other countries that charge less? I am thinking of Norway, Finland, Germany as they seem to have low tuition fees. However, I am willing to consider any country in Europe. I am living in Portugal, so I would need to submit my thesis online, and travel to the university for the viva.

Any help appreciated.


  • 2
    Do the 5000 GBP scare you? I would think that it's a good investment for future job prospects, and this investment gets better the better the university is that you get the degree from. Skimping on a couple of 1000 pounds in return for degree from an unknown university does not seem like a wise investment. Dec 30, 2017 at 15:03
  • Is this possible to be done in Portugal?
    – The Doctor
    Dec 30, 2017 at 16:24
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    What is the point of obtaining a PhD from a university if you never really attended the university? Dec 30, 2017 at 17:18
  • 5
    @AustinHenley Some people would find the on-paper credential to be useful for professional development and job applications, but have worked for years in research or research adjacent work. Dec 30, 2017 at 17:58
  • 3
    Will someone please explain why this question is deemed off-topic ?
    – Trunk
    May 21, 2022 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


Proceed with extreme caution.

What you are describing is known as a stapler thesis or sandwich thesis. This is a common practice for submitting theses, if the advisor, department, and university permit it.

However, such theses are submitted by students who are already enrolled at a university. Virtually all reputable universities will require you to enroll as a student for a period of time before you are eligible to submit your theses, and you generally have to show that you have made contributions to your field during your period of enrollment. Taking a bunch of previously submitted papers and submitting them as a thesis at a school you have never attended, particularly for a large fee, reeks of a school being a diploma mill, a plain old scam, or just desperate for cash.

While the UK offers such programs, they are normally for their own alumni and employees, and it can be a very time-consuming and frustrating process. Moreover, such programs are not well regarded by many employers, and you will be at a disadvantage for many jobs if you have to compete with recipients of standard research PhD’s.

  • 6
    Although I don’t doubt that many of these are diploma mills, Warwick certainly isn’t. In general, it seems like there are several reputable universities in the UK that allow for this. Dec 30, 2017 at 15:42
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    @StellaBiderman: this is true. That’s also why I added the last paragraph: even if it’s not a scam, such degrees aren’t going to be looked on favorably.
    – aeismail
    Dec 30, 2017 at 17:23
  • @aeismail No. This is not the sort of thing the OP has in mind. Refer to the link above. Many Oxford and Cambridge graduates and fellows (i.e. they got their primary/master's degree elsewhere and then took a research fellowship at Ox/Cambridge) pursued this path. Some highly decorated academics did this. The publications submitted were ~ 10 years of high-class academic papers and books. It is not an easier route but a much harder one. In one case I know, the awarding university had (wrongly) backed the supervisor who prevented the Fellow submitting their work for a PhD 10 years before.
    – Trunk
    May 20, 2022 at 17:08

This is possible at Danish universities. See




for more information.

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