FAQ about doing a PhD in the Netherlands

  1.      When do I qualify for a PhD position?

In case you have obtained a master’s degree or equivalent you qualify for a PhD position at a Dutch university or similar institution.

  1.      How can I apply for a PhD position?

Most PhD positions are paid positions and so most PhD candidates are employed by a Dutch university or similar institution and receive wages accordingly. Because of this, you will have to apply for a job opening and the selection procedure usually entails a job interview and any form of assessment. Most job openings can be found at https://www.academictransfer.com/. From there, you can easily access the websites of individual universities and similar institutions in order to obtain further information.

At Groningen University, it is currently possible to apply for a PhD studentship. As a PhD student, you will not be employed by the university and are expected to obtain your own funding since you will not receive any wages. Furthermore, social benefits are severely limited. PNN does not endorse this form of a PhD trajectory and advises against pursuing such a position. Additional information about these PhD studentships can be found here: http://www.rug.nl/education/phd-programmes/?lang=en.

  1.      Can I apply for a PhD candidateship with my own proposal?

It is possible to contact a professor directly with your own PhD proposal. In case a professor agrees to be your supervisor, you will need to secure funding for your research.

Of course, it is possible to apply for an open call for PhD candidates at the university or institution where your supervisor is stationed. Upon endorsement of your PhD proposal, you will be employed as a PhD candidate.

It is also possible to secure your own funding. In case you do so, you will not be employed by the university or institution where you wish to conduct your research. It is nonetheless possible to conduct your research fulltime at that university or institution.

It is also possible to conduct your research part-time – in that case you will belong to the group of so-called external PhD candidates.

For further information about funding options, see http://www.hetpnn.nl/en/links/subsidiesites/.

  1.      What rights do I have as a PhD candidate?

As an internal PhD candidate, you enjoy the rights that academic employees have. Further information about the rights of academic employees can be obtained from the VAWO, the Dutch labour union for academic and support personnel – see https://www.vawo.nl/en/. It is useful to apply for VAWO membership in order to be eligible for legal assistance when needed.

As an external PhD candidate, you are not an employee. Because of this, you are not eligible to receive legal assistance from the VAWO and so it is wise to make your own arrangements.

  1.   How can I make the most of my PhD project?

Next to the fact that a PhD project requires a lot of hard work, there are ways to enrich your time spent as a PhD researcher.

For instance, PNN has been working hard on enabling PhD candidates to take a break from their research and take up a position outside of academia for a period of 3–6 months on average in order to explore non-academic career opportunities. More on our Professional PhD program can be found here: http://www.hetpnn.nl/en/ppp/.

In addition, as a PhD researcher, you might develop or already have all sorts of ideas about policies that are relevant for PhD candidates and/or concern PhD positions in general. In that case, you might want to apply for a position at your local PhD council – see http://www.hetpnn.nl/en/over-ons/promovendi-overleggen/ for an overview of the PhD councils that are currently affiliated to any of the Dutch universities or university medical centres and are members of PNN.

It also possible to become active on a faculty board or university board. This is especially interesting for internal PhD candidates.

Of course, you might also be interested in developing your ideas at a national level and apply for a position with PNN. At PNN, we are always keen to hear from those who wish to think about topics related to doing a PhD in the Netherlands. Vacancies for positions on the PNN board or on any of its committees, such as the National PhD Day committee, are published on our website and on the website of AcademicTransfer. Queries about any job openings are more than welcome and can be emailed to info@hetpnn.nl.

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