PhD in Biology of Plants - Plants for Life

Education objectives

Current climate changes combined with the reduction of per capita agricultural land area and other natural resources pose major limitations for securing food, feed, and energy demands of the escalating world population. Overcoming these limitations through the generation of better food, feed and energy crops, while ensuring sustainability and environmental health, is one of the contemporary challenges for plant scientists.

The international PhD Program in Plant Biology - Plants for Life aims to train a prominent body of future world-class researchers in plant sciences able to address key biological questions related to plant growth and development, to plant responses to environmental stress and to the improvement of crop varieties and plant products.

The innovative training provided by Plants for Life PhD Program is unique in the country, representing an opportune and highly valuable input to increase the competitiveness and innovation ability in an area of crucial importance for the sustainable development and future of human society.

General characterization

DGES code



PhD (3rd Cycle)



Access to other programs

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Nelson Saibo

Opening date

March 2022


Up to 20


Registration fee: 51,00 euros
Maximum annual fee (for national students): 2750,00 euros
Minimum annual fee (for national students): 825,50 euros
Annual fee (for international students): 10000,00 euros

Both annual fees can be paid in four installments.
PhD students with a Plants for Life or individual FCT scholarship have their tuition fees paid by FCT.


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Teaching language

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Degree pre-requisites

The PhD Program Plants for Life has a total of 240 credits (ECTS) and is mainly composed by the individual research project (210 ECTS) leading to thesis dissertation. The course component (30 ECTs) corresponds to a total of 20 weeks and focuses on training in core competences in plant sciences and in transversal skills. Supported by their supervisors, students are encouraged to develop their own path within the Program, by writing their own project and selecting additional courses.

The program initial training deals with fundamental subjects, such as Plant Cell and Developmental Biology, Plant Metabolic Regulation, and Eco-Physiology and Plant Interactions. This training aims to provide an overview of general aspects in Plant Sciences and the required conceptual framework to tackle the subsequent, more applied subjects: Modern Strategies in Crop Breeding and Plant Biotechnology for Sustainability and Global Economy. Most of the curricular units take one or two weeks (1.5 or 3 ECTS).

Students have a four week period to build up, write and discuss their thesis project, under close supervision of the thesis adviser (Research Project, 6 ECTS) before starting their thesis, which comprises most (210 ECTS) of the PhD Program. One year after starting their research work, the student’s progress will be monitored (Research Training, 3 ECTS).

To finish their PhD, students will also have to complete the following curricular units: Systems Biology (1.5 ECTS), Bioentrepreneurship (3 ECTS), Free Options (4.5 ECTS), and Soft Skills (1.5 ECTS). To complete the Free Options, students have to choose advanced courses according to their personal interests and the relevance to their thesis. To complete the curricular unit Soft Skills students may attend the NOVA Doctoral School courses.

Additional information:

Conditions of admittance

Admission of applicants is competitive and based on the educational background, academic qualification, track record and motivation.

Applicants must have a background in agronomical and biological sciences or areas that interface with these. Non Portuguese academic degrees can only be considered upon recognition by Direção-Geral do Ensino Superior or by a Portuguese Higher Education Institution, according to the applicable legislation (Decreto-Lei n.º 341/2007, de 12 de outubro, and Decreto-Lei n.º 283/83, de 21 de junho).

The graduation record of the applicants should be strong and meet one of the following requirements:
a) hold a Masters degree or legal equivalent at the date of application;
b) hold a Bachelor’s degree with a total number of academic credits equal or above 240 (pre-Bologna degrees);
c) exceptionally, hold a Bachelor’s degree with a total number of academic credits below 240 (post-Bologna degrees) and an academic or scientific curriculum vitae of outstanding quality recognized by the Directive Board of the PhD Program.

A good knowledge of English is absolutely required and, although not mandatory, applicants should support the candidature with scores of internationally valid language exams (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS).
PhD students can be funded through scholarships awarded by the PhD program Plants for Life or by an individual application to FCT. In addition, students can obtain their own funding or get funded through other national or international entities. Students with independent funding have to be admitted by the Plants for Life selection committee.

Evaluation rules

Each curricular unit has an independent evaluation. In addition to the continuous assessment along the course, the evaluation will take in consideration the individual assignments as well as the group assignments carried out during the curricular unit.

The evaluation of the research work will be performed by the Jury of the PhD defence, taking in consideration the student performance at the various steps of the work, scientific publications, the thesis as well as its public presentation and discussion.


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