The programme includes some course work, seminars, colloquia and visits to relevant summer schools, but the focus is on training the student to become an independent researcher. Many of our PhD students spend a term at a partner group in a different country. Part of the job as a PhD student is to assist with the teaching of courses (for instance in exercise classes).
In the Netherlands, PhD students are considered academic researchers rather than students. You need to have a Master's degree to become a PhD student. PhD students are employed and receive an appropriate salary. Open positions are advertised on the jobs webpage. Positions may be available at any time, depending on the funding situation.
If you have a research question, it might also be possible to apply for specific project funding together with a faculty member. In that case, please contact the potential supervisor directly and well in advance since funding applications might take several months.
General administrative information on the PhD procedure at the VU can be found here.
A list of current PhD students can be found here.