Doing a PhD takes you further

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!


Doing a PhD at the VUB: a wide array of opportunities

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally renowned research institution with many opportunities for doctoral projects. Our university offers PhD trajectories in no less than 36 disciplines:


Admission requirements & registration

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


Upcoming Doctoral Defences


Who can be my supervisor?

Your supervisor will guide you throughout the entire PhD process. Therefore it is of great importance that you choose a supervisor who has the expertise in your field of research. Expertise at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel can be found through the search engine provided here.  A supervisor always needs to be an active ZAP-(Zelfstandig Academisch Personeel - Independant Academic Personnel) member of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He or she can be supported by one or more other supervisors. In this case the first supervisor carries the main responsibility. The other supervisor needn't be members of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, they do however need to carry the title of "Doctor".

What is the function of the supervisor?

The supervisor is obliged to guide and stimulate the PhD student throughout the PhD process. The PhD student has the same obligation towards his/her supervisor.  In order to clarify the expectations of both parties, the "profile of a good supervisor" was drawn up by the Research Council (OZR). This document is used by the PhD Progress Monitoring Commission (CDO) in their yearly assesment of the PhD project. The commitment between supervisor and PhD student is ratified by the "Research registration Form" that needs to be filled out by both the supervisor and the PhD student with every re(appointment).

Financial grants by the Central PhD Office?

I want to become a PhD student at the VUB? Does the Central PhD Office provide grants for my research?  You are of course welcome to do PhD research at the VUB. You will find more information about the road to the PhD here. Unfortunately, the Central PhD Office does NOT provide research grants.


What are the Doctoral Schools and what do they do?

The Doctoral Schools aim to provide a distinctive framework for the Doctoral Training Programme and, in so doing, increase the visibility of doctoral research and enhance its image, both within and outside the academic world. Several faculties are associated with each Doctoral School and they join forces to organise the Doctoral Training Programme. Each Doctoral School is headed by a Director responsible for the day-to-day management of his or her Doctoral School. The Director will consult with the faculties involved and the other Directors in order to determine Doctoral Training Programme policy and content.   For more information click here or consult the Doctoral School Regulations.

Becoming a member of a DS?

Upon enrolment as a PhD student, you automatically (and without additional costs) become a member of one of the VUB's three Doctoral Schools, which means you can partake in the Doctoral Training Programme.   Membership of a Doctoral School does not automatically imply the participation in the Doctoral Training Programme.  That choice is free for all (unless your Faculty decides otherwise).

Advantages of the Doctoral Training Programme?

The Doctoral Training Programme enables you to follow many kinds of activities such as regular course units, specialized course units, workshops, doctoral seminars, summer schools, master classes, etc. Activities at both VUB and UGent are usually for free, there are however a few exceptions. Furthermore, you have the opportunity to have all your research related activities acknowledged such as publications, participation in conferences and presentations, supervising activities, etc.  More information can be found here.

How to enroll in the Doctoral Training Programme?

Upon enrolment as a PhD student, you automatically (and without additional costs) become a member of one of the VUB's three Doctoral Schools, which means you canpartake in the Doctoral Training Programme.  You can check whether your Doctoral School membership has been registered on your student card. Normally the card should state your Doctoral School. If this is not the case, please contact the Student Administration Center.

Research Funding

For an overview of various types of research funding click here. They may be arranged according to deadline, institution, or nature (e.g. doctoral grants or postdoctoral appointments).  The Research & Development Department site also contains a wealth of information for (junior) researchers. Make the most of it!


Vrije Universiteit Brussel 
Central PhD Office 
Pleinlaan 2 
1050 Brussels

Campus Etterbeek 
Room: 4M423

Nele Van Schelvergem
Tel: +32 2 629 16 53 

Doctoral Training Programme
Lowie Geers
Tel: +32 2 629 21 41
Email: /

Hannelore De Grande 
Tel: +32 2 629 16 51

What is a PhD?

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.

Joint PhD

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. 

Doctoral Training Programme and Doctoral Schools

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: 


Richting MorgenVlaamse RegeringVIA

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