PhD officially stands for Doctor of Philosophy and it is the highest academic degree you can obtain. In the Netherlands, a PhD position takes about four years, in which you conduct scientific research. You will be supervised by a university professor. The aim is to publish a book/monograph or several articles, and to contribute to the development of scientific knowledge and understanding in a particular field of research.

Core activities during your PhD:

  • Research proposal
  • Research plan
  • Budget proposal
  • Developing research techniques/methods
  • Research
  • Supervising research support staff
  • Publication of research
  • Doctoral thesis
  • Teaching
  • Supervising students

PhD categories

In the Netherlands we mainly distinguish four PhD categories:

  1. Employee PhD
    Most PhD’s in the Netherlands are employed by the university/PhD-awarding institution. Next to getting a salary, other advantages are social security, employee protection and building up retirement savings.
  2. Bursary PhD
    As a bursary PhD you are not employed by the university, but you receive funding by a scholarship provider.
  3. Externally funded PhD
    You are somehow funded for doing a PhD or your employer allows you to do a PhD during working hours.
  4. External PhD
    As an external PhD you do research in your own time, with your own resources.


  • (Research) master’s degree in related academic field
  • Experience or interest in specific research field
  • Good communication skills
  • Good organisational skills
  • Good experimental and analytical skills
  • Fluency in English
  • Willingness to teach and supervise students