How to trade brain power for krone

This is a quick but comprehensive information source and guide to student finances to set you on the path that leads away from student poverty in Denmark or abroad.

2021-05-10 16:50:00
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185.277 10.05.2021

For many of us, student funding can be a complicated battlefield, the outcome of which can mean being free to pursue our researching dreams or facing years of living off tinned beans and rice.

This is a quick but comprehensive information source and guide to student finances to set you on the path that leads away from student poverty in Denmark or abroad.

Traditional Funding: Research Councils, Charities and Universities

Competition for the big grants that fund your degree or doctorate entirely (or the salaried PhD positions in Denmark) is unsurprisingly tough. Looking for a number of smaller grants from the same sources is a viable alternative.

Tips for applying for grants and awards:

  • Start applying as soon as possible (some institutions award grants on a first come first served basis). 
  • If you’re applying to a Charity, Foundation or Trust it is a good idea to contact them to check you are eligible before applying.
  • Tailor your application: which areas of research are prioritised by the grant provider?
  • Avoid jargon: describe what you are doing in terms that an average member of the public could understand. 
  • Emphasise any potential societal benefits and the importance of the course for your career.
  • Explain other sources of funding: if you have been awarded a grant already you will probably be seen as a more credible investment by other grant providers. 
  • Follow up: If you get turned down, be sure to follow up with a polite inquiry as to why you were unsucessful. 
  • Be sure to apply again using what you have learnt at the next possible round of applications. 
  • Be warned: applying for research funding might require an industrial scale approach and an equally large reserve of patience, time and perseverance.


In Denmark there are:

  • Studentships – 3 year full time Phds that are salaried in return for teaching obligations. 
  • Fellowships – for those with 2 years professional experience and a Masters degree.
  • Industrial Fellowships: employed positions, conducted in collaboration with private enterprises. 

See Study In Denmark for more information about PhDs here and a list of available PhD Positions in Denmark here

Charities, Trusts and Foundations

These can be hard to discover and some of them are very specialised. However, they can be an overlooked source of funding that often provide awards between €600 and €2500. Not enough to cover your qualification but you can apply to multiple institutions and it could add up eventually. 

Scholarships for highly qualified non EU/EEA students

Tution fee wavers and/or living cost grants are available from Danish higher education institutions for non-EU students in full time programs and granted a residence permit in Denmark due to education. See the institution of your choice for more details.

Danish Government Scholarships under the Cultural Agreements

Are offered to exchange students and young researchers studying culture related to Denmark, namely Danish language, design, architecture, environmental studies etc. See the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education website (

Fulbright Commission

If you are an American in Denmark check out the Denmark-American Foundation and the Fulbright Commission website. 

Danish State Support for Europeans: SU

If you are a European there are a number of reasons why you might qualify for the Study Grant that is provided by the Danish Government to all Bachelor and Masters students. Check out whether you are eligble at

Part time work or entrepreneurship?

There are many study related and non study related jobs available in Denmark. Find positions at Students Online.

University is also a great place to try to apply what you are learning and start a buisness of your own. Entrepreneurship and freelancing is a source of funding that more and more students are turning to as a flexible job and a great opportunity to develop professional skills. Being entrepreneurial doesn’t necessarily mean you’re developing nanotechnology or the next Google. You could be running a market stall, organising parties, tutoring school children or doing freelance web design. 

Check out Copenhagen Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab for more information about assistance getting your business idea of the ground:


A drama student in the UK, Clementine Wade, sent out around 5,000 letters to actors, comedians and politicians, appealing for financial support and she managed to raise around £16,000. Clementine said, 

‘I spent days in the library researching names and addresses and then writing personal letters to everyone I’d listed. I enclosed a fundraising brochure with my letters, explaining who I was, what I wanted to study and why, and what I would give back. I treated it like a business pitch.’

While your letter to the Prime Minister asking for funding for a pharmaceutical MSc probably wont get you very far, a targeted letter to the CSR departments of pharmaceutical companies might.

Don’t feel restricted to applying only to the funding that is advertised. Maximise the potential of those research proposals and applications you laboured over by sending speculative applications to private companies. What can you offer them? Could you act as a brand ambassador for them? Could you promise to work for or with them? You might just walk away with funding and a job to look forward to when you’re done.

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