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How To Apply

How to apply

Admission Requirements

To be admitted to our PhD programme, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must be in possession of a Master degree (MA/MPhil/MSc/MBA/LLM), or have successfully obtained an equivalent qualification at an institute of higher education (see Doctorate Regulations, article 8). If you doubt about your qualifications, please consult Nuffic.nl or send an email to our office.

    Please note that a Master of Divinity (MDiv) is not considered as sufficient qualification to enter our PhD program. Only when the applicant can demonstrate that the completed MDiv program has a substantial research component and/or Master thesis, the Graduate School considers acceptance to the program. This decision is solely reserved to the Graduate School. 
  2. You have sufficient proficiency in written and spoken English. This will be determined on the basis of an English test that is accepted by VU. The proficiency requirement can be met by the successful completion of one of the following examinations: IELTS: 6.5; TOEFL (paper based test: 580; computer based test: 237; internet based test: 92-93; Cambridge Advanced English: A, B or C.
    Exemption from the examination is granted to candidates who:
    (1) within two years of admission to the Graduate School, have met the requirements of VU test in English language proficiency TOEFL ITP, with at least the scores specified above.
    (2) had previous education in secondary or tertiary education in an English-speaking country (Canada, USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand).
    (3) have an English-language ‘international baccalaureate’ diploma.
    (4) have a diploma of a Bachelor or Master degree programme which has been accredited by the NVAO in the Netherlands.
  3. You have found a supervisor from VU FRT who is qualified to supervise PhD candidates (see Doctorate Regulations, article 9), and who is willing to supervise you.
  4. You are not already in possession of the degree of Doctor or an equivalent qualification. If you have a Doctor degree, you can only be accepted to the Graduate School when you intend to pursue a PhD based on a dissertation devoted to research in an academic domain other than that of your initial PhD (Doctorate Regulations, article 7).

If you meet the requirements listed above, this does not automatically mean that you will be accepted to the Graduate School. The office of the Graduate School bases its decision of acceptance to the PhD programme on the qualifications of the candidate. In this process, the following aspects will mainly be considered: academic standards of the institution where the Master degree was obtained, completed academic courses, academic writing skills, and English language proficiency.

Applying to the Graduate School (as external PhD student)

Below, you find an explanation of the application process. An overview can be found on ‘doing your PhD step-by-step. The steps described there correspond to the process described here.

STEP 1 Finding a supervisor

There are three ways in which you can get accepted as a PhD candidate at our Graduate School. First, if you know your specialization area and/or have a prospective supervisor in mind, the easiest way is to have informal contact with the supervisor and explore the possibilities of a PhD trajectory together. Second, if you are not yet certain about the direction of your career or have no prospective supervisor in mind, you can contact one of the team leaders of our faculties’ research teams. The team leader will discuss your application with the research group, and when the application is deemed acceptable, will assign one of their members as supervisor. Finally, you can enter the PhD program through one of our partners.

Please send to your prospective supervisor or team leader the following documents:

  • Letter of application
  • Pre-proposal
  • CV

STEPS 2-4 Application

When you have come to an agreement with your supervisor, together you will fill in a Training and Supervision Plan (TSP). This must be signed by you and your supervisor. You can consider the TSP as a kind of contract between you and your supervisor. Here, you agree on how your supervision will take place, and how you are going to meet the 30 EC requirement. For the rest of your PhD trajectory, this plan for your training and supervision is leading. Here, you can find more information about filling in your TSP.

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

  • Letter of Application, indicating your intention and motivation to follow a PhD trajectory at the Faculty of Religion and Theology at VU Amsterdam.
  • Pre-proposal of your intended PhD research.
  • Article, thesis or paper of choice to demonstrate your academic writing skills.
  • Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) signed by you and your supervisor. In case of waiver requests, you should include evidence of the curriculum components which you have followed, certified diploma supplements and/or original transcripts.
  • Curriculum Vitae including academic work carried out.
  • Scan of your bachelor and master diploma and transcript. (When the diploma and/or transcript is not in English, Dutch, French or German, we require a certified translation of these documents.)
  • Course descriptions of the master courses that you completed containing a research component (short summaries).
  • A copy of an identity document that is legally valid in the Netherlands (such as a passport). We do not accept a driver’s license.
  • Signed Code of Conduct
  • Score of your English language test (when applicable). Please consult the section ‘admission requirements’ above for more information, including exemptions.

Send all the application documents in one mail to the Graduate School. If, for example, your TSP is not ready (and signed by you and your supervisor), please wait with sending us the other requested documents.

After sending in all the documents, the office of the Graduate School will assess your application and decide whether to accept you to the PhD programme. In case of acceptance, you will receive a Letter of Acceptance, including further instructions about payment of the yearly fee, VUweb-ID (when applicable), and registration for online courses. Your membership will be activated only after payment of the fee. You will also receive an invitation to register to Hora Finita, our online PhD registration system.

STEPS 5-9 Official Registration at VU

When you are accepted to the Graduate School, you can start with the mandatory course Research Design (if part of your TSP). After completion of the Research Design module, and after your proposal has been presented to one of the faculty's research teams, your research proposal must be submitted to the PhD Proposal Advisory Committee (PPAC) (this will be done by your supervisor; candidates do not take part in the deliberations). After the PPAC has positively advised on your proposal, the final version will be uploaded in Hora Finita for approval by the Dean of the Faculty and the Rector of the University (please note that this normally takes some time).

How to apply

  • Admission Requirements

    To be admitted to our PhD programme, you must meet the following criteria:

    1. You must be in possession of a Master degree (MA/MPhil/MSc/MBA/LLM), or have successfully obtained an equivalent qualification at an institute of higher education (see Doctorate Regulations, article 8). If you doubt about your qualifications, please consult Nuffic.nl or send an email to our office.

      Please note that a Master of Divinity (MDiv) is not considered as sufficient qualification to enter our PhD program. Only when the applicant can demonstrate that the completed MDiv program has a substantial research component and/or Master thesis, the Graduate School considers acceptance to the program. This decision is solely reserved to the Graduate School. 
    2. You have sufficient proficiency in written and spoken English. This will be determined on the basis of an English test that is accepted by VU. The proficiency requirement can be met by the successful completion of one of the following examinations: IELTS: 6.5; TOEFL (paper based test: 580; computer based test: 237; internet based test: 92-93; Cambridge Advanced English: A, B or C.
      Exemption from the examination is granted to candidates who:
      (1) within two years of admission to the Graduate School, have met the requirements of VU test in English language proficiency TOEFL ITP, with at least the scores specified above.
      (2) had previous education in secondary or tertiary education in an English-speaking country (Canada, USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand).
      (3) have an English-language ‘international baccalaureate’ diploma.
      (4) have a diploma of a Bachelor or Master degree programme which has been accredited by the NVAO in the Netherlands.
    3. You have found a supervisor from VU FRT who is qualified to supervise PhD candidates (see Doctorate Regulations, article 9), and who is willing to supervise you.
    4. You are not already in possession of the degree of Doctor or an equivalent qualification. If you have a Doctor degree, you can only be accepted to the Graduate School when you intend to pursue a PhD based on a dissertation devoted to research in an academic domain other than that of your initial PhD (Doctorate Regulations, article 7).

    If you meet the requirements listed above, this does not automatically mean that you will be accepted to the Graduate School. The office of the Graduate School bases its decision of acceptance to the PhD programme on the qualifications of the candidate. In this process, the following aspects will mainly be considered: academic standards of the institution where the Master degree was obtained, completed academic courses, academic writing skills, and English language proficiency.

  • Applying to the Graduate School (as external PhD student)

    Below, you find an explanation of the application process. An overview can be found on ‘doing your PhD step by step. The steps described there correspond to the process described here.

    STEP 1 Finding a supervisor

    There are three ways in which you can get accepted as a PhD candidate at our Graduate School. First, if you know your specialization area and/or have a prospective supervisor in mind, the easiest way is to have informal contact with the supervisor and explore the possibilities of a PhD trajectory together. Second, if you are not yet certain about the direction of your career or have no prospective supervisor in mind, you can contact one of the team leaders of our faculties’ research teams. The team leader will discuss your application with the research group, and when the application is deemed acceptable, will assign one of their members as supervisor. Finally, you can enter the PhD program through one of our partners.

    Please send to your prospective supervisor or team leader the following documents:

    • Letter of application
    • Pre-proposal
    • CV

    STEPS 2-4 Application

    When you have come to an agreement with your supervisor, together you will fill in a Training and Supervision Plan (TSP). This must be signed by you and your supervisor. You can consider the TSP as a kind of contract between you and your supervisor. Here, you agree on how your supervision will take place, and how you are going to meet the 30 EC requirement. For the rest of your PhD trajectory, this plan for your training and supervision is leading. Here, you can find more information about filling in your TSP.

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

    • Letter of Application, indicating your intention and motivation to follow a PhD trajectory at the Faculty of Religion and Theology at VU Amsterdam.
    • Pre-proposal of your intended PhD research.
    • Article, thesis or paper of choice to demonstrate your academic writing skills.
    • Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) signed by you and your supervisor. In case of waiver requests, you should include evidence of the curriculum components which you have followed, certified diploma supplements and/or original transcripts.
    • Curriculum Vitae including academic work carried out.
    • Scan of your bachelor and master diploma and transcript. (When the diploma and/or transcript is not in English, Dutch, French or German, we require a certified translation of these documents.)
    • Course descriptions of the master courses that you completed containing a research component (short summaries).
    • A copy of an identity document that is legally valid in the Netherlands (such as a passport). We do not accept a driver’s license.
    • Signed Code of Conduct
    • Score of your English language test (when applicable). Please consult the section ‘admission requirements’ above for more information, including exemptions.

    Send all the application documents in one mail to the Graduate School. If, for example, your TSP is not ready (and signed by you and your supervisor), please wait with sending us the other requested documents.

    After sending in all the documents, the office of the Graduate School will assess your application and decide whether to accept you to the PhD programme. In case of acceptance, you will receive a Letter of Acceptance, including further instructions about payment of the yearly fee, VUweb-ID (when applicable), and registration for online courses. Your membership will be activated only after payment of the fee. You will also receive an invitation to register to Hora Finita, our online PhD registration system.

    STEPS 5-9 Official Registration at VU

    When you are accepted to the Graduate School, you can start with the mandatory course Research Design (if part of your TSP). After completion of the Research Design module, and after your proposal has been presented to one of the faculty's research teams, your research proposal must be submitted to the PhD Proposal Advisory Committee (PPAC) (this will be done by your supervisor; candidates do not take part in the deliberations). After the PPAC has positively advised on your proposal, the final version will be uploaded in Hora Finita for approval by the Dean of the Faculty and the Rector of the University (please note that this normally takes some time).