Semmelweis UniversityAiming For a More Flexible, Expanding PHD Program at Semmelweis University

Aiming For a More Flexible, Expanding PHD Program at Semmelweis University

Increasing the number of international PhD students is an important part of Semmelweis University’s strategy. The Doctoral Program covers the whole spectrum of medicine and health sciences, aiming to make degree opportunities more and more varied and flexible – adapting them to the different life situations of the students. There are also a range of additional fellowships for students at the Hungarian university: they can take part in the PhD training while working in clinical patient care or at a research and development company, or it is even possible to start the process in the last two years of their undergraduate training.


„As a doctor you need a lot of experience, to meet real patients instead of an artificial head. Papers are papers but practice makes your knowledge perfect, it is the most important for doctors,” Dr. Li Xinda, specialist of Periodontology and Implantology emphasizes.

The Chinese undergraduate is one of the 800 PhD students who are currently studying at Semmelweis University in Budapest.

“Teeth are fundamental for everything, if this part goes wrong in human body, everything goes wrong, that’s why I chose periodontology. My PhD topic is the soft tissue around the dental implant,” Dr. Li Xinda explains.

As he points out, he decided to take part in the Doctoral Program because he wants to be scientifically active later in his career either in Hungary or back in China.


Improving position in international rankings

„Our PhD students are the future of Semmelweis University, and increasing their number is a key issue for our research and teaching staff, for our excellence and our position in the rankings,” Rector Dr. Béla Merkely emphasized.

The Rector recalled that Semmelweis University’s strategic goal is to be among the top 100 higher education institutions in the world and among the top 5 medical universities in Europe. The university’s position in international rankings is improving: in the latest ranking of Times Higher Education (THE), it has moved up 149 places to the top 300, in THE’s list of specialized fields it is in the top 200, and in the US News Best Global Universities 2022 ranking it is 55th already in the cardiovascular field.

„High priority is to continue to improve our academic performance, and the number of PhD students is the key to this,” the Rector pointed out, adding that two-thirds of the ranking results are influenced by indicators related to research and development and innovation.


Flexible PhD program

„The aim of Semmelweis University is to make its PhD Program as varied and flexible as possible, so that they are accessible to the most talented people in the most diverse life situations,” Dr. Péter Ferdinandy, Vice-Rector for Science and Innovations emphasized.

The PhD degree is an entry point for those who envisage their future in the research and development field or who would like to continue their career as a teacher or researcher at the university, but it is also very useful for clinicians: they will be able to use their knowledge in a more critical, synthesizing way and apply it for the benefit of patients.

Dr. Péter Ferdinandy pointed out that the Cooperative Doctoral Program is one of the many opportunities available, with 29 participants from the University so far. This is a good option for those who would like to obtain a degree while working, for example at a research and development company, a health authority or a pharmaceutical company. Funding is also available through the National Research, Development and Innovation Office.

The Vice-Rector stressed that they would also like to increase the number of foreign PhD students, because a degree complemented by a Doctoral Program is extremely valuable on the international market.

Eight doctoral schools

The most extensive doctoral program in the field of medicine and health sciences is the Semmelweis’ Doctoral Program. The University’s eight doctoral schools cover the full range of medical and health sciences, from cardiac surgery to sociology. A total of 800 PhD students are currently studying there. The number of PhD students has risen steadily in recent years, with the number of publicly funded students increasing one and a half times last year, from 170 to 250, and this year the same number of students can be admitted to the publicly funded system.


Applications for PhD studies

Students can apply for the following PhD studies at Semmelweis University:

- Classic 4-year PhD course: state fellowship or self-financed

- Individual Doctoral Program: open to those who have almost all the scientific results and conditions needed to enter the Dissertation Phase

- MD-PhD Excellence Program: can start two years before the end of the undergraduate studies and then, after graduation, allows entry to the second phase, also two years, with a complex examination. It is also open to international students

- Translational Medicine Training Program: particularly recommended for those who wish to pursue a PhD alongside specialist training

A make-up exam is expected to take place in early September at the latest, up-to-date information will be posted on the Doctoral School’s website. A PhD degree is a recognition that its owner is capable of doing independent scientific work. PhD studies is also open to those who are about to have children.


Scholarship programs

The Semmelweis 250+ PhD scholarship program will be continued next academic year with the University’s own funds. It provides students with an additional supplement of 50 percent of the state fellowship. Host institutions have the possibility to top up this extra amount by at least the same amount.

“The number of scholarship places exceeds the number of other training places in the field, and we have always been able to fill them fully,” Dr. Zoltán Benyó, President of the Doctoral Council of Semmelweis University said.

Education is bilingual, English and Hungarian, so it is open to international students. Many students come through the Stipendium Hungaricum, the most prestigious higher education scholarship program, which is open to applications from around 100 countries.

Dr. Zoltán Benyó also highlighted the MD-PhD scheme, which is open to foreign students, and the state fellowship places for students coming from EU countries.

“I would recommend PhD training to anyone interested in science and research. Hungarian and international graduate students here at Semmelweis University are really within reach joining prestigious, world-class research teams,” President of the Doctoral Council said.

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