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PhD
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Doing a PhD takes you further
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You are passionate about science and research ? You are curious by nature and you have an innovative spirit? You have the ambition to be part of an internationally competitive world? A doctorate might just be the thing for you!

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What is a PhD?
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Doing doctoral research and writing a doctoral dissertation leads to the highest academic degree awarded at Flemish universities: the degree of doctor of philosophy. As a PhD researcher you will mainly conduct research, sometimes in combination with some teaching assignments. Studying for a PhD makes it possible for you to focus on a fascinating research topic, under expert guidance. Not only will you improve your academic research skills, such as participating in conferences, presenting your own research results, writing scientific articles; you will also be able to develop a wider range of skills, highly valued on the job market, such as language and communication skills, project management, leadership and teamwork.

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Doing a PhD at the VUB: a wide array of opportunities
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Als internationaal gerenommeerde onderzoeksinstelling biedt de VUB een brede waaier aan doctoraatstrajecten. Je kunt aan onze universiteit een doctorsgraad behalen in maar liefst 36 onderzoeksdomeinen

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Become a PhD student at the VUB
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Faculty
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Doctor
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Doctoral Training Programme and Doctoral Schools
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The VUB offers a flexible Doctoral Training Programme. The emphasis lies on an individual programme. Although the programme is in principle not compulsory, you are highly encouraged to participate because the large number of seminars and workshops on offer enables you to develop a wider range of skills. The Doctoral Training Programme presents PhD students with a structural framework for acquiring and developing skills which will support their research as well as their teaching abilities, but which will also prove valuable outside their discipline and the academic environment. The programme offers the opportunity to take part, free of charge, in numerous  masterclasses, symposiums and expert seminars, as well as many workshops such as presentation skills, project management, academic English or career coaching.

The 3 Doctoral Schools are: 

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Admission requirements & registration
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Is doing a PhD your cup of tea?

Are you passionate about research and science? Are you curious and innovative? Do you have the ambition to work in an international competitive environment? Then, doing a PhD might just be your thing! Keep in mind that you need to be prepared to apply yourself to full-time scientific research in an academic context for a period of at least 4 years. Doing a PhD is not an easy job, make sure that you have all the information before you embark on this adventure.

Diploma Requirements

The default requirement for admission as a PhD researcher is a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in a relevant field from a Belgian university. Derogations may be granted for the holders of a Master’s degree in a relevant field from a non-Belgian university. A diploma in the same research domain as the subject of your PhD research will enhance your chances to be accepted as a PhD researcher. More information can be found here.

Supervisor

A supervisor will guide you through the whole process. It is therefore important that you find a supervisor who has the right expertise. Read more about how to find a good supervisor here.

Subject

Many PhD researchers continue in their PhD on the same subject as their master thesis and stay in the same research group. Often the same professor becomes the supervisor. This is certainly not mandatory. To see which expertise we have at the VUB and which professors are working on which topics, you can use the search engine.

Funding

There are many different ways to receive funding as a PhD researcher. It is, for example, possible to be hired by the university as a research assistant or to research a scholarship or grant. Find out more about mandates, vacancies and funding resources.

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Joint PhD
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The VUB can award so-called ‘joint PhDs’. A joint PhD is a doctorate that’s prepared in collaboration with two universities. The research is done under supervision of a supervisor in each institution and at the end of the successful project you will be awarded a PhD degree by both universities. 

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Administration & Doctoral Training Programme
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Nele Van Schelvergem
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+32 2 629 16 53
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doctoral.schools@vub.be
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Coördinator
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Hannelore De Grande
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+32 2 629 16 51
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hannelore.de.grande@vub.be
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Financial Support & Grants Info Doctoral Schools
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Mimi Deprez
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+32 2 629 21 41
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phd@vub.ac.be
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Admission requirements
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Doctor's degrees
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De Vrije Universiteit Brussel awards PhD degrees in more than 30 disciplines. While the disciplines are rather fixed, the actual titles might change. We try to keep following list as up-to-date as possible.

These are the degrees for which you can apply:

 

Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

  • Doctor of Philosophy and Moral Sciences
  • Doctor of Linguistics
  • Doctor in Literary Studies
  • Doctor of Linguistics and Literary Studies
  • Doctor of Applied Linguistics
  • Doctor of History
  • Doctor of Archaeology and Art Sciences
  • Doctor of Archaeology and Art Sciences: Cultural Heritage Studies
  • Doctor of Arts

Faculty of Law and Criminology

  • Doctor of Laws
  • Doctor in Notarial Studies
  • Doctor of Criminology

Faculty of Psychology en Educational Sciences

  • Doctor of Psychology
  • Doctor in Educational Sciences
  • Doctor in Adult Educational Sciences

Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy

  • Doctor in Movement and Sport Sciences
  • Doctor in Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy

Faculty of Science and Bio-Engineering Sciences

  • Doctor in Sciences
  • Doctor in Bio-Engineering Sciences

Faculty of Engineering

  • Doctor in Engineering Sciences
  • Doctor of Engineering Technology

Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences & Solvay Business School

  • Doctor in Economic Science
  • Doctor of Business Economics
  • Doctor in Political Sciences
  • Doctor of Sociology
  • Doctor in Media and Communication Studies
  • Doctor in Media and Communication Studies: Journalism Studies

Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy

  • Doctoral in Medical Sciences
  • Doctor in Biomedical Sciences
  • Doctor in Social Health Sciences
  • Doctor of Nursing and Obstetrics
  • Doctor of Dentistry
  • Doctor in Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Doctor of Gerontology
  • Doctor of Human Ecology

Interdisciplinary

  • Doctor in Interdisciplinary Studies

If your research topic is interdisciplinary in a way it crosses faculty boundaries, you can choose to apply for an Interdisciplary PhD. For practical reasons you will however still be linked to a faculty: the faculty of your supervisor.

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Before you begin
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Before you can start a PhD research, there are some important things you need to consider:

  • Do you really want to study for a PhD degree?

It is not an easy task. You should expect it to take 4 to 6 years of full-time work and sometimes even longer.

  • Do you have a Masters degree?

The default requirement for admission as a PhD student is a Masters degree (or equivalent) in a relevant field. Derogations for candidates without a Masters degree are unlikely to be granted unless the candidate has very strong research or professional credentials. The ultimate decision about the eligibility for PhD research resides with the Faculty in which the research will be conducted.

  • Do you have a supervisor?

You need a supervisor ("promotor" in Dutch). This is a professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in your research field who is willing to guide and evaluate your research.
We strongly advise you to increase your chances by going through our research pages, to see whether you can find a match between your research interests and research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. You can browse the university’s web pages or use the search engine available here.

  • Do you have funding?

You need sufficient financial means to support yourself during your stay in Brussels. Besides the tuition fee, you should have at least € 10.000 yearly for the duration of your research.
Have a look on the webpages of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel that contain the vacant PhD positions with funding or on the R&D pages for some grants and scholarships. You can also check the Belgian Portal for Research and Innovation.

  • Other administrative requirements

The supplementary faculty regulations can specify additional administrative conditions.

  • Have a look on this website about studying in Flanders. It gives you some basic information on Flanders, the educational system, study and research programmes, funding opportunities and gives you a check list of things to bear in mind before coming to Belgium.
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Diploma requirements
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Default diploma requirements

The default requirement for admission as a PhD student is a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in a relevant field from a Belgian university. Derogations may be granted for the holders of a Master’s degree in a relevant field from a non-Belgian university.

To be admitted as a PhD candidate, candidates must hold one of the following diplomas:

  • A master’s degree or, as stipulated in the Higher Education Code ("Codex Hoger Onderwijs") of 20 December 2013, a degree of equal value, including a Polytechnic Civil Engineering degree or a master’s degree awarded by the Royal Military School in Brussels ("Koninklijke Militaire School")
  • A degree obtained outside the Flemish Community ("Vlaamse Gemeenschap"), which is considered equivalent to a master’s degree in accordance with the stipulations of the Higher Education Code ("Codex Hoger Onderwijs") of 20 December 2013.
  • A master’s degree obtained from the French Community ("Franse Gemeenschap") or a degree considered equivalent in accordance with the decree of the French Community and which is equivalent to a master’s degree obtained within the Flemish Community.
  • A foreign degree obtained upon successful completion of a course of study of minimum 240 ECTS study points and which is equivalent to a master’s degree in accordance with a decree or the application of the European Directive 89/48 of the Council of December 21st 1988 concerning a general scheme of recognition of higher-education degrees that complete vocational training courses of at least three years which is considered equivalent under a bilateral agreement.

The supplementary faculty regulations determine which specific diploma is required for each PhD.

 

Derogations

Derogations may be granted for the holders of a Master’s degree in a relevant field from a non-Belgian university. Derogations for candidates without a Masters degree are unlikely to be granted unless the candidate has very strong research or professional credentials.

The supplementary faculty regulations determine whether that exemption should depend on the successful outcome of a preliminary examination and an investigation into the applicant’s suitability: will he or she be able to complete a doctoral thesis. The ultimate decision about the eligibility for PhD research resides with the Faculty in which the research will be conducted.

 

Having a Master’s degree does NOT automatically mean you will be admitted as a PhD candidate. The admission can be subjected to a preliminary examination and an investigation into the applicant’s suitability. The ultimate decision about the eligibility for PhD research resides with the Faculty in which the research will be conducted.

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Supervisor and subject
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Besides meeting the above mentioned diploma conditions, candidates must, in order to apply for admission as a PhD candidate, also have a supervisor and have laid down their choice of subject.

A supervisor (“promotor” in Dutch) is a Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in your research field who is willing to guide and evaluate your research.
You can go through the university’s research pages to see whether you can find a match between your research interests and research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. You can browse the university’s web pages or use the search engine available here.

You can also have a look at this list of subjects. For these subjects supervisors are explicitely looking for candidates. Keep in mind however that funding is not guaranteed.

Click here for more information.

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Application & Enrolment
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When you have found a supervisor and funding, and you think you have the right degree, you can officially make a request for admission as a PhD candidate. This request or application is NOT the same as an enrolment and does NOT guarantee you will be accepted. There are 2 procedures: one for candidates with a Belgian degree and another one for candidates with a non-Belgian degree.

Applications should be sent to the relevant Faculty (if you have a Belgian degree) or to the Regsitrar's Office (if you have a non-Belgian degree), and not to the Researcher Training & Development Office.

There is no deadline for applications. Applying for admission to the PhD can be done the whole year through.

You will only be able to enrol, after receiving a positive answer from the Faculty.

Click here for more information on the application and enrolment procedures.

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Funding
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Funding
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On this page you'll find a selection of the main funding options for PhD candidates. You'll find a section on research funding, which garantees a monthly income, and a section on bench fees and other grants that can be used to finance activities and material during the PhD project.

Links to other overviews:

For more information on research funding and grants, please contact the R&D Department.

For information on contracts and staff statutes, please contact the Staff Department.

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Research funding
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As a PhD candidate you can receive a monthly income, either as a member of the staff of the university, either by having a scholarship.

Assistant (AAP)

For a position as assistant (Assisterend Academisch Personeel / AAP) you need to apply to a vacancy. The position involves teaching and working on a PhD research.

An assistant position is usually for 6 years (3 terms of 2 years).

Vacancies for AAP-position at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel can be found here.

 

Research Staff (BAP) and Scholarship holders

For all disciplines:

For specific disciplines and target groups:

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Bench fees and conference grants
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Following list is not exhaustive.

For all disciplines:

FWO PhD Candidates:

IWT PhD Candidates:

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Doctoral defences
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Doctoral defences
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PhD
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Doing a PhD takes you further
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PhD
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Doing a PhD takes you further