16 NAD PhD Fellowships in Neuroscience

Neuroscience Academy Denmark (NAD) offers 16 fully funded PhD fellowships per year to exceptional and highly motivated candidates pursuing a career in neuroscience research.

NAD is funded by the Lundbeck Foundation and is a nationally concerted effort involving the neuroscience research environments of Aalborg University, Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen, and the University of Southern Denmark. The neuroscience research environments based at the University hospitals and the Technical University of Denmark are also active partners of NAD.

The NAD programme runs over 4 years and consists of 1 pre-PhD year followed by a 3-year PhD project.

Key features
  • 3x 10-week lab rotations in excellent neuroscience labs across Denmark (200+ labs to choose from) during the pre-PhD year
  • Specialised neurosicence courses and workshops
  • Retreats and networking events
  • The opportunity to design your own PhD project in close collaboration with your PhD supervisor(s)
  • 3 years of PhD studies in a research lab that fits your interest.

Application deadline was 11 August 2023 at 4:00 PM (CEST). Next call opens in April 2024 – deadline August 2024.

Read more about the programme below.

The pre-PhD year

The pre-PhD year runs from 1 January to 31 December 2024. The purpose of the pre-PhD year is to prepare you for doing an excellent PhD project in neuroscience by providing you with the opportunity to work in a variety of first-rate neuroscience labs, attend basic and advanced neuroscience courses and establish a strong scientific network. You will be introduced to various techniques and methodological approaches that you can use in the formulation of your PhD project.

In the course of the pre-PhD year, you must complete 3 laboratory rotations in 3 different NAD labs within basic and/or clinical neuroscience. Each lab rotation lasts 10 weeks. More than 200 labs across Denmark are affiliated with NAD, which means that there many opportunities to find laboratories that are relevant to your specific field of interest.

To get an overview of labs and potential supervisors, click here. You will plan your lab rotations in close collaboration with the NAD Executive Office.

During each lab rotation, you will be introduced to the lab’s primary research focus areas and techniques. You will also participate in lab research activities, journal clubs etc. Immediately after each lab rotation, you must prepare a report and a presentation of your lab experience that you will present to your fellow NAD fellows.

The intention behind doing 3 lab rotations in 3 different labs across Denmark is to give all NAD fellows an opportunity to try new research environments before deciding on a PhD laboratory. Thus, you will get the chance to expand your neuroscience research network, get familiar with new techniques and methodologies and also to experience and develop new collaborations. Terms are: If you have already done your bachelor’s or master’s thesis or if you have had a paid job in a laboratory, you cannot choose this laboratory for any of your lab rotations. There is no such restriction in regard to choosing your PhD laboratory.

It is a clear expectation from NAD that you will put together a meaningful and relevant pre-PhD year in order for you to get the most out of this opportunity.

In parallel with the lab rotations, you will participate in neuroscience courses and workshops offered by NAD. Also, you will participate in NAD retreats and networking events. Half-way through your third and final lab rotation, you must have identified your preferred NAD lab/supervisor and co-supervisor for your PhD project. In collaboration with your supervisors, you will then formulate a PhD project proposal and a PhD study plan which will have to be approved by NADs Executive Office as well as NAD’s Scientific Board. After approval, you must submit an application for enrolment with the Graduate School at your host university.

In 2024, the 3 lab rotation periods are as follows:

  • 1 January – 10 March
  • 11 March – 19 May
  • 20 May – 28 July

From 29 July to 31 December, you will be affiliated with your PhD laboratory. In this period, you will write your PhD proposal.

Conditions for proceeding from the pre-PhD year to a 3-year PhD fellowship

NAD’s Executive Office and NAD’s Scientific Board will evaluate if you have completed the pre-PhD year satisfactorily based on the following criteria:

  • Attendance and active participation in lab rotations – including lab work and completion of all three lab rotations. It is a requirement and a clear expectation from NAD that you are physically present in the laboratories that you choose for your lab rotations.
  • Attendance and active participation in all courses, meetings, and assessments of own and fellow NAD PhD fellows
  • Approved lab reports and presentations
  • Approved PhD research plan by NAD Scientific Board
  • Enrolment at the Graduate School of your host institution
The PhD project

Your enrolment and employment as a PhD student run in the period from 1 January 2025 up to and including 31 December 2027. During your 3 years as a PhD student, you must carry out your PhD research project, be actively involved in your research lab and take courses offered by your graduate school corresponding to 30 ECTS. In parallel, NAD will also offer several activities and events that we expect you to join. Here, you will get the chance to network with other PhD students, postdocs and scientists from the Danish neuroscience environment, take part in NAD’s mentor programme and join career events.

Responsibilities and tasks as a PhD Fellow
  • Carrying out an independent research project under supervision
  • Completing PhD courses corresponding to 30 ECTS
  • Participating in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution – preferably abroad
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Writing scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Writing and defending your PhD thesis based on your project
  • Following the rules of the individual department and graduate school
Acceptance requirements

You are expected to hold an MSc/MD in, e.g., neuroscience, medicine, molecular biomedicine, biology, biochemistry, psychology, pharmacology, engineering, computer science, or other relevant fields as long as you are keen on applying your expertise to a neuroscience question. What matters is your sincere interest in neuroscience.

All interested candidates with a background in neuroscience are encouraged to apply. At the time of entry to the NAD programme, it is a prerequisite and an indispensable condition that you must qualify for formal enrolment as a PhD student at any of the Health Graduate Schools of the participating Danish universities. This means that you must, at the time of application, hold either a Danish master’s degree or a master’s degree equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (120 ECTS). Note that for applicants with an international Master of Science degree, we might send your master’s degree to be assessed at the Danish Ministry of Education and Research where it will be determined whether your degree is equivalent to a Danish master’s degree.

Only applicants at the required level will be considered. You must upload a scan of your master’s degree diploma. NAD may at any time ask the Danish Ministry of Education and Research for an official assessment of a master’s degree diploma.

Key tasks as a PhD student
  • Carrying through an independent research project under supervision
  • Completing PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approximately 30 ECTS points
  • Participating in active research environments including a stay at another research team
  • Teaching and disseminating your knowledge
  • Completion of a PhD dissertation on basis of the PhD project, which must be publicly defended
To be considered for the NAD programme, you should:
  • Have an investigative mindset and a genuine and heartfelt interest in neuroscience
  • Be organized, self-motivated, result-oriented, and capable of working independently and in groups
  • Be curious and motivated to learn new methods and techniques
  • Possess strong written and oral English communication skills
English language skills

As an NAD Fellow, English will be your work language both in the lab and when writing an article or presenting papers of own findings. Your PhD thesis is also written and defended in English. Therefore, it is a requirement that you have profound English language skills.

You need to upload your English language test unless you fall under one of these 3 categories:

  • You are from a country where English is the official language
  • You are from an EU or EEA country
  • You can document that English was the language of instruction during your bachelor’s or master’s study programme
Application Guidelines

All applications must be submitted through our online application portal. Applications received by mail or e-mail will not be taken into consideration.

7 things to prepare before starting your application
  1. CV – max two pages (in one PDF). Please do NOT include a photo in your CV.
  2. Find 1-2 references. By the time of your submission of your application, your references must have consented to be your references. If relevant, NAD will contact your references as part of the recruitment process.
  3. MSc degree diploma (certified English translation + in original language)
  4. Bachelor’s degree diploma (certified English translation + in original language)
  5. Grade transcript (certified English translation + in original language)
  6. English language proficiency test result certification – ONLY required if you are NOT from an EU or EEA country.
    We only accept TOEFL (minimum 560 in the written) or IELTS (of minimum 6.5)
  7. 1-2 scientific papers that you find interesting + URL of the paper(s)
Selection process – from application to job offer

After the application deadline, the selection committee evaluates all applications and shortlists a number of candidates who will then be invited for interviews. All interviews will be held online via Zoom. If you are invited for an interview, you will receive detailed information about the interview format, the programme and what to prepare. After all interviews, the selection committee will recommend the 16 best qualified candidates to NAD’s Governing Board that will render the final decision.

Candidates will be recruited both nationally and internationally aiming for diversity in gender, nationality, education, and research lab interests. The main goal of the selection process is to identify exceptionally motivated candidates with the potential to succeed in neuroscience.

As part of the recruitment process, all shortlisted candidates may be asked to do a personality test.

Important dates in the 2023 recruitment process
  • 11 August 2023 at 4 pm (CEST): Application deadline
  • Beginning of September: Relevant, shortlisted candidates will receive an invitation for interview
  • Mid to end September: Interviews
  • October: Job offers/rejections are sent out

The average weekly working hours are 37 hours per week.

The NAD Fellowship is a fixed-term position limited to 1 year as a pre-PhD student at the level of a research assistant + 3 years as a PhD student enrolled and employed with one of NADs listed research laboratories.

Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

As an integrated part of your first year as a pre-PhD, you will take part in a mandatory lab rotation programme in 3 different NAD labs. The labs are located at different geographical locations in Denmark, and you must be prepared to travel and stay at at least two different geographical locations.

During your first year as a pre-PhD, you will receive an employment contract at the level of a research assistant. Your employment will be with different universities depending on your lab rotation choices. You must at all times comply with the rules of your employer at that time. All individual agreements regarding projects and work scope as well as physical presence in the lab, among others, must be agreed upon with the lab PI prior to starting a lab rotation.

The applicant must meet the enrolment criteria of the graduate schools of the Danish universities by the time of submitting this application. This will be screened by the NAD Executive Office.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Danish Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme (2013) and each university’s rules on achieving the degree.

Upon your enrolment with the Graduate School of your host institution, you will report directly to your PI/supervisor in the lab where you will do your PhD work.

For additional information about the call or the programme, please contact the NAD Executive Office.

My master’s degree is less than 120 ECTS. Can I still apply?

We can only take applicants with a master’s degree that is equivalent to a Danish master’s degree of 120 ECTS into consideration.

How can I check if my master’s degree from abroad is equivalent to a Danish master’s degree?

The Danish Ministry of Education and Research has guidelines. For assessments: General assessments for specific countries and here: Assessment database. In case the NAD Executive Office is unsure about your ECTS, we will send your diplomas for assessment with the Danish Ministry of Education and Research.

My master’s degree is less than 120 ECTS. Is it possible to qualify for additional ECTS to reach the required 120 ECTS during NAD’s pre-PhD year where I will be employed as a research assistant?

No, you will have to qualify prior to the pre-PhD year.

I have graduated with a master’s degree, however, my university will not issue my diploma until after NAD’s application deadline. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can apply if you have obtained a Master’s degree with 120 ECTS. We are aware that it can take some time before graduates receive their master’s degree diplomas. Just upload a transcript documenting that you have 120 ECTS.

Are there any specific grade requirements (master’s thesis or otherwise)?

There are no specific grade requirements.

Does clinical experience count positively/should you include it in your application?

We consider all experience, so yes, you should include it.

Are English language certifications required for everyone?

Not necessarily. You are exempted from submitting your English language proficiency test if you 1)   come from a country where English is the official language, 2) come from an EU or EEA country or 3) can document that you have completed a BSc or MSc education where English was the language of instruction (please enclose documentation with your application). Depending on your native language and where you obtained your degree, we might ask you to do a test later. If you proceed to an interview, this will also provide us with an opportunity to evaluate your English skills.

In what format should I include references?

We are not asking for letters of recommendation – we just ask for the consent of your references so they know that we might contact them later. Just provide us with their contact details (academic title, full name and e-mail address)

When will I know if I have been accepted?

NAD will send out decisions in the beginning of October 2023.

Will candidates who have not been selected for the programme be notified?

Yes, all candidates will be notified when the application process is finalised.

Is there an age limit?

There is no age limit, and we will not ask you to provide your age during the application process.

What is a “pitch”?

In the box named “pitch”, we ask you to present yourself in only a few words: Why will you succeed in neuroscience, why should NAD’s hiring committee choose you. Consider this as your first chance to give the hiring committee a great impression of yourself. In the “scientific motivation”, you should present your scientific motivation (why are you interested in neuroscience; what drives your curiosity etc.). In the personal motivation, we ask you to give us your personal motivation for applying for our programme (what is your background for applying; what do you hope to get out of joining our programme, etc.). In general, you should show us what makes you a relevant candidate.

Is it a requirement to have any publications already by the time of the NAD application deadline?

That is not a requirement. If you have already published, you are welcome to upload your publication list.

Does a manuscript in preparation count as part of a publication list?

A publication only counts after it has been published. However, you may add the manuscript as under preparation.

Programme start

When will the pre-PhD year start?

The pre-PhD year starts 1st of January 2024. All 16 selected NAD fellows will start on the same day.

Is the start date flexible?

The programme start date is a fixed date. All fellows recruited in 2023 will start 1st of January 2024.

When the 16 NAD fellows start, will they start directly in their 1st lab rotation?

Yes and no. The NAD Executive Office will arrange a meeting for all 16 newly recruited NAD fellows in the first week of January 2024. So, you will start physically in your first lab rotation Monday in week 2 of January. Here, you will meet the PI of the lab and your new colleagues. You will also be introduced to your project/tasks here.

Will NAD assist NAD fellows in finding accommodation near the labs?

NAD will not assist fellows directly in finding accommodation, but we will point out relevant housing resources.

Will NAD provide assistance to applicants who are relocating to Denmark with their families?

NAD will not assist families of international fellows relocating to Denmark.

When will my PhD study start?

The NAD programme is a 4-year programme. You will start with a pre-PhD year 1st of January 2024 consisting of three lab rotations and a PhD preparation period. Formally, your enrolment will start 1st of January 2025, but as an NAD Fellow, you will have 5 months with your PhD lab prior to the formal enrolment. Here, you will formulate your PhD project and complete all paperwork with the relevant graduate school.

Is the funding adequate for covering living expenses in Denmark?

Yes. During the pre-PhD year, you will be employed as a research assistant, and afterwards you will be employed as a PhD student. You will receive a monthly salary. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

Will the NAD assist non-EU citizens in applying for a visa?

Our HR department will assist you obtain a residence and work permit.

Programme content

Is the list of PI’s available for lab rotations final?

The list is dynamic, and PI’s are still joining the Research Columns.

Will we randomly be assigned three lab groups during the rotations, or can we choose the three groups/supervisors?

NAD will help you work out the practicalities and we will offer guidance with respect to your research interests. In the end, you choose the three lab rotations.

Does the three lab rotations have to be within the same Research Column?

No. It is up to each fellow to design his/her first year and thus put together a meaningful first year and thus three lab rotations that will prepare the fellow for the three-year PhD study.

Can a lab rotation take place outside of the NAD labs?

No, it cannot. All laboratories in Denmark working within neuroscience have already been asked if they are interested in joining NAD.

Can a fellow join a clinical department if they do not speak Danish?

Yes, but only in agreement with the hosting department.

Can a fellow participate in work with humans if they only have experience with animal experiments?

That will depend on the laboratory. If yes, then it will be under supervision, and some courses may be required.

Are there any opportunities to do clinical research during the programme?

We encourage all projects to be translational and to include clinical aspects. We aim to provide each student with one supervisor engaged in basic research and one engaged in clinical research.

Is it possible not to work with animal experiments at all during both the pre-PhD year as well as during the 3-year PhD study?

Yes, that will be possible. When designing your lab rotations, this is one of the questions you must ask potential PI’s.

How many courses will NAD arrange for the fellows during the pre-PhD year?

The pre-PhD year will encompass 3-4 course. They are all mandatory for NAD fellows.

What will be the content of the courses during the pre-PhD year?

The courses during the pre-PhD year will aim to expose fellows to the scientific breadth, expertise, and available techniques within the NAD community through lectures and exercises. These courses are also intended to highlight areas where fellows may wish to brush up on their knowledge through self-study. Finally, some course content will revolve around academic skills such as scientific writing and data handling. Courses are mandatory, though not graded.

Is it necessary to take all courses during the first year?

You must be able to attend the full curriculum during the first year. It is not possible to skip the first year.

Can a fellow do his/her PhD study in a lab that he/she did not join as part of the three lab rotations in the pre-PhD year?

Yes, that would be possible. The pre-PhD year introduces you to the Danish neuroscience environment, to the researchers, and to the research fields. You will meet potential supervisors, and supervisors will meet you. We suggest that you use the lab rotations to narrow down your field and to find out which kind of lab will be a fit for you.

Who will decide where the fellows will do their PhD studies?

Each fellow will make a decision on where he/she wants to do a PhD and then discuss with the relevant PI. You must take contact and start a dialogue with the PI whose lab you would like to join.

How will NAD support me during my PhD?

During your three years as a PhD student, you are enrolled and employed with your host lab. NAD will offer courses and networking opportunities during these three years and will also keep close contact with you. You are always welcome to reach out to the NAD Executive Office.

Call status
This call has expired and cannot be applied for. Next call for NAD fellowships opens April 15 2024 - deadline August 12 2024 at 4:00 PM (CEST).
Call deadline
11 August 2023 at 4:00 PM (CEST)

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