career options


Traditionally, the PhD programme has predominantly been considered the first step towards permanent employment at the university, but these days a PhD degree provides options for a much broader range of employment including universities, other research and knowledge institutions, private enterprises and public organisations requiring employees with an academic background for tasks including analysis, review, teaching and counselling.

Employment as assistant professor is the next traditional step towards permanent employment at the university. For this position it is a prerequisite that the applicant demonstrates qualifications at PhD level. It is a 4-year training post in which the assistant professor must qualify through research and teaching (and to a limited extent administration) for permanent employment as associate professor.

It is far from certain, however, that a vacancy as assistant professor will be available at the Department of Culture and Global Studies after a successfully completed PhD programme. The individual faculties and departments will assess, both currently and in connection with the preparation of more long-term job plans, which existing and new areas are to be considered as regards jobs, including the need to recruit new staff when older staff retire from the labour market. Experience shows that in most departments, the number of assistant professorships advertised is lower than that of completed PhD theses.

If an assistant professorship is advertised within the academic area of your thesis, you will not, however, be certain to gain employment as assistant professor. Assistant professorships are advertised in open competition, and a number of candidates, both from AAU and other Danish and foreign institutions may apply. In the assessment of applicants, academic qualifications (quality of thesis, other publications) and other relevant qualifications (teaching experience, academic network activities, administrative experience etc.) will be considered in particular. In brief, even if you are good, it is not necessarily certain that you are the best candidate, and the department management obviously has a long-term interest in securing the best team, particularly for the further development of core activities related to research and teaching.

Postdoc employment will typically be possible in connection with time limited research tasks, e.g. in connection with externally sponsored activities. Employment is for a maximum of three years. The position will normally include research, but a certain amount of teaching may also be included. Dependent on the length of the period, postdoc employment may also be used to commence or complete qualifications for associate professorship level, but in some cases the external funding may also cause the position to be used as a launch pad for employment outside the university sector, for instance in sector research institutions (where the employment structure differs from that of the universities, but where the PhD degree is also an essential qualification) or in private or public knowledge institutions. (Google, for instance, “PhD” and “consultant/senior consultant”).

Employment of staff with PhD degrees in private enterprises or public organisations is becoming increasingly frequent, because an increase in complexity of tasks renders qualifications such as independent handling of for instance major review tasks an increasingly important element in enterprise related or organisational functionality.