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SWPS University - Main page

Guide to Doctoral Studies

What is a doctorate?

  • A doctorate or a doctoral degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded for an independent and original solution to a research question or problem.
  • The question or problem should be scientifically significant and bring new and valuable input to the body of knowledge.
  • A doctoral thesis should present advanced theoretical knowledge and prove that a doctoral candidate is able to carry our research independently.
  • The doctoral thesis may be presented in a writing, in the form of a monograph, a series of thematically-linked academic articles supplemented with a summary of professional accomplishments, a design, construction, a technological or implementation project, or as an independent and isolated part of a group project. The doctoral thesis may also be presented as a series of published and unpublished works.
  • Pursuit of a doctorate is conducted under the supervision of thesis advisors or thesis advisors and assistant thesis advisors.

What is the difference between a doctorate and other university degrees?

  • A doctorate must contribute something new to science (e.g., a new research problem, new methods or a new interpretation of a phenomena).
  • Topics discussed in a doctoral thesis are more complex.
  • Doctoral candidates must work independently and demonstrate inquisitiveness and creativity (doctorates are creative endeavors).
  • Pursuit of a doctorate requires an advanced level of methodological and analytical skills.
  • Good knowledge of literature on relevant topics and critical thinking, applied while analyzing sources, are necessary.
  • Working on a doctoral thesis is very time consuming due to advanced research projects and the requirements concerning the scope of the thesis (the number of pages depends on the topic of the thesis).

Research is the foundation of your doctorate

Research and the process of acquiring indispensable research skills specific to a given discipline are the core of doctoral studies.

Steps to developing your doctoral thesis:

  • Think about a topic that is closely aligned with your interests
  • Review available literature on that topic
  • Formulate a research question
  • Carefully read the available literature on your selected topic and formulate assumptions
  • Plan your research projects and select research tools
  • Collect data
  • Analyze data
  • Interpret data
  • Draw conclusions
  • If your doctoral thesis is suited to practical applications, present recommendations and develop implementable solutions.

Your doctoral thesis constitutes the final result of your research process. Promotion of your research results is also important – you must provide at least one peer-reviewed scientific publication and two presentations at conferences to start doctoral proceedings.

Advantages of a doctorate

You gain a postgraduate university degree.

Doctoral degrees are conferred on candidates who:

  • Hold Master’s degrees (e.g., M.A., M.Sc., M.Eng., M.Med.Sc., or an equivalent)
  • Submitted doctoral thesis and began doctoral proceedings
  • Received positive reviews of the thesis
  • Achieved education outcomes defined in the level 8 of the Polish Qualifications Framework (PQF), including language proficiency at CEFR B2 level
  • Met other requirements set forth by SWPS University
  • Presented and successfully defended doctoral thesis.

A doctorate enables you to embark on one of the following academic careers: research, teaching-research, artistic-research or an artistic-teaching path.

  • a doctoral degree confirms that you have theoretical and methodological background as well as practical research skills to carry out independent research
  • positive reviews of the scientific merit and creativity of your doctoral theses (e.g., monographs, scientific publications) open doors to a research career
  • activities inherent in the process of pursuing a doctoral degree are conducive to research and professional networking, which may lead to fruitful collaborations in Poland and internationally
  • the doctoral student status provides access to many opportunities and funding for research projects.

A doctorate confirms your qualifications

  • A doctorate certifies that you are highly qualified in your chosen specialization. A doctoral degree confirms that you have met the requirements of the highest level (8th) of the Polish Qualifications Framework (PQF).
  • Through providing solutions to crucial research questions in a given scientific discipline, and presenting study results among other researchers and academics, you boost your professional visibility and solidfy your research standing
  • Research and critical thinking skills that you develop while working on your doctoral thesis are sought after by many employers, in particular by innovative and international companies
  • Working on your doctorate prepares you for active participation in opinion leading circles, including engagement in public matters
  • While working on your doctorate you learn how to manage highly complex projects, plan their subsequent stages, search for and obtain funding, coordinate teams, and work on various tasks.

A doctorate boosts your position on the job market

  • New professional opportunities will become available to you
  • Your professional credentials will be formally recognized
  • You will have a competitive advantge.

Opportunity for personal development

While pursuing a doctoral degree, you will:

  • gain new knowledge and unique skills
  • boost your creativity
  • pursue your goals, dreams, and follow your interests
  • meet many interesting people, establish a professional network and open doors to collaborations
  • acquire endurance, self-management, and time management skills.

Important Questions

Is this for me?

Your decision to embark on a doctorate at our Doctoral School should not be made lightly – you should consider the following aspects:

  • Why do I want to pursue a doctoral degree?
  • Is the topic I want to research rooted in my true interests?
  • Is a doctoral degree merely a matter of ambition for me?
  • Do I want to pursue new professional opportunities?
  • Can I devote several years of my life to pursue one topic/question?
  • Are the research skills, which I will develop while working on my doctoral thesis, important to me?

The more benefits you see in obtaining a doctorate, the better.

Who should be my thesis advisor?

The choice of a thesis advisor is equally important. You should consider the following:

  • Do you know expert researchers who specialize in the discipline you are interested in?
  • Have you read their publications?
  • Are you familiar with the working style of this person (perhaps you met them during your undergraduate or graduate studies or you collaborated with them on a project)?

Choosing the right thesis advisor sets you up for success.

What research center should I choose?

Finally, you should consider which center (research or implementation) or a group (research or artistic) you want to join. Before you apply to our Doctoral School, review our centers and teams and find out which one would be interested in your research topic or which one you would like to join.


Mentoring supports and energizes doctoral thesis development. It is also crucial in the educational process of doctoral students.

  1. Thesis advisors also serve as mentors for their doctoral students. They not only pass on theoretical knowledge and share their experience, but also support their students in research mapping and planning their teaching-research, artistic-research or artistic-teaching careers. Furthermore, thesis advisors promote the culture of knowledge and experience sharing among doctoral students.
  2. Additionally, SWPS University Doctoral School offers a mentoring program. The program includes peer mentoring sessions and consulting concerning research, artistic or teaching career development (theoretical and practical aspects).

Goals of our mentoring program:

  • To help our doctoral students reach their full potential by sharing our knowledge and experience
  • To support our doctoral students in planning their personal development and undertaking considered steps towards career development
  • To develop their mentoring skills required to inspire others and help others in their development
  • To develop transferable skills, which are important for careers in academia and beyond, such as communication skills, planning and project management, time management, creativity, and preventing procrastination
  • To provide doctoral students with additional support in overcoming obstacles they encounter on the way to their doctoral degree.

Doctoral Scholarshps

Rules and regulations

As of January 1, 2023, the monthly doctoral scholarship amounts to at least:

  • 37% of professorial salary – calculated up to the month, in which the mid-term assessment is conducted (i.e., net PLN 3,076.53)
  • 57% of professorial salary – after the month in which the mid-term assessment is conducted (i.e., net PLN 4,739.51).

The amount of the doctoral scholarship may vary depending on student’s achievements.

Doctoral students with confirmed disability, or confirmed degree of disability, or holders of certificates defined in Article 5 and Article 62 of the Act of 27 August 1997 on Vocational and Social Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities receive scholarships larger by 30% than the amount indicated in Article 209, Section 4, point 1, i.e., equal to PLN 800.31 (gross), before and after the mid-term assessment.


Persons falling into the following categories are not eligible for doctoral scholarships:

  • doctoral students who already have a doctoral degree
  • doctoral students who have already been collecting doctoral scholarships for the total period of four (4) years (not including sabbaticals in doctoral school, taken pursuant to Article 206, Section 2 of the Law on higher education and science)
  • doctoral students whose doctoral education is part of their employment requirements at the institution running a doctoral school, and who receive monthly remuneration in the amount higher than the minimal monthly remuneration of a professor. Doctoral scholarships are not subject to income tax. However, mandatory deductions include pension, disability and accident insurance fees. Medical insurance deductions are optional.

Review the Act of 20 July 2018 The Law on Higher Education and Science