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Labour market results: PhD

Inserció lab doctors 2017AQU Catalunya is presenting the 4th study on access to the labour market experienced by doctors graduating from Catalan universities. The studies on access to the labour market coordinated by AQU Catalunya are the result of the interest of the social councils of universities to gather data and points of reference on the quality of access to the labour market experienced by graduates. Specifically, studies on access to the labour market experienced by doctors graduating from the Catalan university system (SUC) have been conducted every three years since 2008 (2008, 2011, 2014 and 2017).

This edition incorporates a number of developments with respect to the previous two: on this occasion, the seven Catalan public universities took part (University of Barcelona, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Technical University of Catalonia, Pompeu Fabra University, University of Girona, University of Lleida and Rovira i Virgili University); along with four of the private universities (Open University of Catalonia, International University of Catalonia, University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia and Abat Oliba CEU University); and, moreover, an online survey was also conducted on doctors born outside Spain.

PDF Access to the labour market for doctors who graduate from Catalan universities

Enllaç extern Web page track the employment outcomes of doctoral degree holders according to subject area


Below are some of the key results stemming from the 2017 data:

Access to the labour market according to education level

  • As shown by the data from the survey on the active population (APS) for Spain as a whole and by the data from the AQU Catalunya survey on access to the labour market, within the various labour market indicators doctors have an advantage over those who reach lower education levels.

Percentage of the population who are employed, unemployed or inactive according to education level (people aged 25-44 years – APS, 1st quarter 2017)


Employment and suitability

  • The employment rate remains steady compared to 2014 with 9 in every 10 doctors in employment; the same is true of the suitability rate:6 in every 10 perform doctoral-level functions.

Suitability of functions at work in 2017



Where are doctors working?

  • A higher number of doctors are working in private enterprise (46%), meaning fewer doctors are present in the public sector. An increasing percentage of doctors are performing doctoral-level functions in private enterprise.

Jobs held by recently-qualified doctors in 2017


  • 7% of doctors work abroad, half the proportion of 2014.

Functions performed according to job area in 2017


Employment conditions

  • Almost half of all doctors are on an open-ended contract and most are paid gross salaries of above 2,000 euros a month.

Percentage of doctors earning more than 2,000 euros per month according to educational field in 2017


What skills are acquired during a PhD?

  • Although working in a research group substantially enhances achievement of skills and the completion of a PhD in a shorter period, the number of doctors preparing their thesis as part of a research group has fallen.

Satisfaction with the study programme

  • Even though 8 in every 10 would take their doctoral study programme again, the percentage of doctors who would take the same doctoral programme again has fallen in 5 percentage points compared to 2014.

What do foreign doctors think of PhDs in Catalonia?

  • Foreign doctors account for 30% of all doctors who obtain their qualification in Catalonia and this group gives their satisfaction with their doctoral study programme a rating of 7 out of 10.


Data sheet

PDF PDF Survey

Survey year: 2017

Participating universities: UB, UAB, UPC, UPF, UdG, UdL, URV, UOC, UVic-UCC, UIC and UAO CEU.

Reference population and sample the reference population is formed by 2,546 individuals and 1,358 doctors have been surveyed, i.e., 53.4% of all doctors who presented their theses in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years in Catalonia. The overall sample error for the study stands at 1.85%.

Previous studies


La inserció laboral dels doctors i doctores de les universitats catalanesPDF Access to the labour market for doctors who graduate from Catalan universities [ca]

link Results from the 2014 study [ca]


Document PDF PDF Study on access to the labour market for doctors in 2008. Initial assessment of results

link Results from the 2008 study