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Doing your PhD step by step

In this table, you can find an overview of all the steps of our PhD program


Search for a research team that specializes in your field of interest. You can search via, or click here for the different topics offered by research teams.

You must send the following documents to the team leader of the research team

   - Letter of application
  - Pre-proposal
  - CV


The prospective research team will look at your documents, and determine whether the team is willing to supervise. Then, the research team will look for a supervisor for you.

Your prospective supervisor will contact you, and discusses further steps to be taken.


(click here to find more information about admission requirements and your application)

Fill in your TSP and send it to your supervisor. In your TSP, you formally agree with your supervisor on the planning of your PhD trajectory, including the courses you are going to take and how your supervision will be conducted.

When your supervisor agrees with your TSP and has signed it, you can start with gathering all other necessary documents:

- Letter of Application
- Pre-proposal
- Article, thesis, or paper to demonstrate your academic writing skills
- Training and Supervision Plan (TSP)
- Curriculum Vitae
Scan of your bachelor and master diploma and transcript
- Course descriptions of completed master courses
- A copy of your ID card or passport
- Signed Code of Conduct
- Score of your English language test (when applicable)

Send the documents listed above (in one package) by email to (put your supervisor(s) in CC).


When all documents are received and in order, the graduate school will send you a letter of acceptance, a signed version of the TSP, and a few other important documents. Please also make sure that you read the VU Doctorate Regulations.

As soon as you have paid your membership fee, you are officially a member of the Graduate School of Religion and Theology![1] The yearly membership fee is € 500,-, and can be paid via this link. The annual fee must be paid every year before September 1st. Visit this webpage for more information about the fee.

The office of the Graduate School will make an account for you on Hora Finita, the online PhD registration system of VU. You will receive a ‘request for additional information’ to access your account. Here you can check the information that the graduate school already filled in. After your research proposal has been approved by the dean (step 8), your registration as PhD student at VU will be arranged through Hora Finita. Here, you can find a manual for Hora Finita.


You can now start with following your (mandatory) courses and writing your official research proposal. Arrangements made in your TSP (concerning your supervision and the courses which you are going to follow) are leading in this stage.

The Research Design module, which is mandatory for most of our PhD students, is specially designed to help you with writing your research proposal and your PhD thesis. You can subscribe for this course by filling in the application form.


When you and your supervisor(s) finalize the draft of your research proposal, your supervisor will see that the proposal is discussed at one of the faculty’s research teams during one of its regular meetings. You will be present during this meeting together with your supervisor. You will have to elaborate the feedback that was given before the proposal can go to the PPAC (see below, step 7).


Use the feedback from the research team to improve your research proposal. Do this in cooperation with your supervisor(s). When you have done this, your supervisor will submit the final version of your research proposal to the PPAC (PhD Proposal Advisory Committee), whose members represent the FRT Professors Board. The PPAC convenes every month to discuss PhD proposals, and advises the dean about acceptance of the research proposal. The dean bases the decision to approve the research proposal on the advice of the PPAC.

You must submit your final research proposal to the PPAC within one year for full time students, or within two years for part time students, after your acceptance to the graduate school.


Your supervisor informs you about the advice of the PPAC.

- When the PPAC gives a negative advise about your research proposal, you must improve the proposal by using the feedback from the PPAC. After this, your supervisor can resubmit the proposal (resume at step 7).
- When the PPAC gives positive advise, the office of the graduate school will start your official registration via Hora Finita. Every stakeholder, such as your supervisors, the dean, the beadle’s office and the rector, will have to approve your registration. This usually takes two or three weeks.


When your registration has been completed, you will receive an email stating that you are now officially registered at VU as PhD candidate. You can start/resume writing your dissertation and following the remaining courses that you planned in your TSP. Again, the arrangements made in your TSP are leading.

You also get access to your personal dashboard in Hora Finita (click here for the manual). Here, you must upload the courses that you successfully completed in your portfolio. Please fill in all the details of the course, and upload evidence that you successfully completed the course, for example a certificate or email from the coordinator.[2]

Your supervisor or the graduate school must approve all courses individually.

When all 30 ECs are completed and you have uploaded the courses in Hora Finita, you can request the graduate school to approve the portfolio as a whole. The graduate school will compare your portfolio to your TSP, and, when everything is in order, approve it. 


Only when your portfolio has been approved, you can upload the final version of your manuscript. You should only upload your manuscript after approval of your supervisor(s). Your supervisors will receive a notification when you have uploaded the document.


Your supervisors assess the manuscript, using the relevant FRT criteria, and submit a brief assessment of the thesis. Furthermore, your supervisors will, together with the dean and the dean of research, install the doctorate committee who must assess the dissertation. Your supervisors are not part of this committee.


Within 30 days after receiving your manuscript, all reviews of the doctorate committee should be in. Then, the chair of the doctorate committee receives an invitation from Hora Finita to prepare a report with a reasoned assessment based on the reviews.

- If there is enough consensus in the doctorate committee, a positive or negative recommendation will be submitted to the Dean and the Dean of research through Hora Finita.
- In case the doctorate committee decides that adjustments are needed and feasible within a short term (max 60 days), the candidate and supervisors are allowed to resubmit the manuscript after revision. The candidate makes sure to use Track Changes/notes the changes made to the manuscript.


The dean decides through Hora Finita about rejection or acceptance of the manuscript, after receiving advice from the dean of research. If the candidate is allowed to revise the manuscript, the dean sets a deadline to resubmit. After resubmission, the process will recommence at step 12.

The decision is communicated by the dean to the doctorate committee and the supervisor. Your supervisor will communicate the decision of the dean to you.


Together with your supervisor, the secretariat of the Faculty of Religion and Theology, and the Beadle’s office, you will plan the defense of your dissertation. You can find more information about your defense here.

You can apply for a reimbursement of €500,- from VU for the costs of your PhD defense. Please contact the faculty secretariat for more information.

[1] According to the VU Doctorate Regulations, you can only be registered as PhD student at VU when your research proposal has been approved by the dean of the faculty. Therefore, you are not officially registered as PhD student at VU at this stage. However, you are a member of our graduate school, and we treat you similar to our other members. Your official registration will be arranged through Hora Finita, our online PhD portal, after your research proposal has been approved.

[2] When during your trajectory you decide to follow another course than stated in your TSP, this must be approved by your supervisor and the Graduate School. You can upload the emails with approval in your portfolio as evidence.