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I'm confused: someone said that a PhD in Europe is free, someone said that you get paid. What's true? And how hard is to get a PhD salary in Physics in North Europe?

  • apply for funded position via websites. – SSimon Nov 19 '19 at 15:11
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    Europe is not a single country. Each country has its own ways of organizing PhD programs. Some get paid, some don't get paid for their PhD work, but for some related project, some get a stipend, in some countries you get more than others, but living costs also differ. Some include insurence some don't. etc. etc. etc. – Maarten Buis Nov 19 '19 at 15:29
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    I am used to the following system (Germany/Austria): you can do a PhD (not getting paid) and there are a lot of funding possibilities for pHd projects (which sometimes your prof applies to). In some subjects, you have a lot of students without funding (maybe some of them have a real job, or funding parents) and in some, it is not common to do pHd without funding. In other countries (I think France?) you may not do pHd without funding. – user115896 Nov 19 '19 at 15:36
  • From what I know, the PhD is for free in all European countries, as in, you don't pay tuition fees for it. The possibility to obtain funding depends on the country and on the field, as others have said before. – lighthouse keeper Nov 19 '19 at 21:46
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    @lighthousekeeper Technically, the tuition exists in many countries, it is usually either a) very small (France - my tuition was €400/year and I paid it myself from my PhD salary) or b) covered as part of your PhD agreement (in the UK - tuition for UK/EU students is around £5000/year, and for "international" around £15000 - and covering the tuition as well as providing a bursary is a part of the PhD agreement between the Uni and the student). Can't remember the price tag for Croatia, but it was quite high (but covered through the PhD funding) – penelope Nov 20 '19 at 14:01
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You go to their website, find a job posting, and apply. Example of a PhD Research Fellowship at the University of Oslo.

Not all positions are free, and not every PhD student is paid. You'll have to look.

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There are vast differences between the different countries in Europe when it comes to this issue. You could compile a list of countries that you would be interested in doing your PhD, then look at the relevant universities there and what they offer for PhD students. For instance in the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark), you could find a paid PhD position where you are given about 3000 USD per month (before tax, more like 2000-something after tax).

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Europe is not a country so PhD policies vary greatly from one country to the other.

With that being said, because you mentioned northern Europe: As far as Germany is concerned, if you do a PhD in a public university (which are the best ones) you do get paid.

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  • "you do get paid" if you manage to secure either a research assistant position (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) or a stipend (Stipendium). There is a certain percentage of people who do their PhD unpaid, either due to lack of funding (which is hard to get, for example, in the humanities), or if they do the PhD while working in another job. – lighthouse keeper Nov 20 '19 at 7:56
  • ... or while working in industry on their PhD project (write their thesis about their [industrial] research) – cbeleites unhappy with SX Nov 21 '19 at 2:02

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