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PhD programme

PhD programme Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science at the VU has a broad range of research. One of the binding factors between the 12 departments of the Faculty is the combination of fundamental and applied research. Approximately 700 PhD students are working and studying at the Faculty and contribute at the high quality research of the Faculty. There are 10 graduate schools in the Faculty who often work closely together with national graduate schools.

More information on our PhD programme

  • PhD Education programme

    For every PhD candidate it is important to deepen the knowledge and skills, enabling them to become fully qualified scientists with an excellent perspective for a career of their choice. The educational program for PhD candidates of the Faculty of Science provides for a variety of activities enhancing the academic, professional and general skills of PhD candidates. During the PhD period each PhD candidate is required to obtain 30 EC's. The details of the requirements that are made concerning the educational program for PhD candidates can be found in the PhD Education Guidelines.

    Doctorate Regulations VU Amsterdam 
    PhD programs at VU Amsterdam typically take three to four years, depending on the scientific discipline and the type of appointment and funding in question. The VU Doctorate Regulations and admission procedure apply to all PhD candidates regardless of their type of appointment. The Doctorate Regulations covers issues such as admission to the PhD program and the responsibilities and authorities of those involved in the program.

  • Training and Supervision Plan (TSP)

    The admission process starts when an employee has been hired as an internal PhD candidate, or in the case of external PhD candidates, when the supervisor agrees to supervise the PhD candidate. Overall, the graduate schools are responsible for the admission process. The admission process starts after the application to the PhD has been successful. 

    Each PhD candidate develops an individual Training and Supervision Plan (TSP). This plan is tailor-made for your personal development with the aim of becoming a well-qualified independent researcher and professional in your field. When you have fulfilled all the requirements for the TSP at the end of your PhD you will obtain your doctorate diploma. 

    In the Supervision Plan you state the agreements you have made with your supervisors regarding the supervision. It is important to have the same expectations of the supervision as your supervisors. Such as: amount of time spent by supervisors on your PhD project, who is involved in which chapter or with which publication, number of meetings to evaluate the progress of the PhD project. The Supervision Plan is an agreement between the PhD candidate and the supervisors, therefore, both parties must agree with the content and with the specified arrangements. 

    In the Training Plan describes how you are going to meet the requirements of the PhD Education Program, which are stated in the PhD Education Guidelines. The Training Plan is split in four parts:

    1. Mandatory (minimum 4 EC)
      1. For the course on Scientific Integrity: Faculty Board (FB) will only admit students to this course after being fully registered in Hora Finita.
      2. A visit to at least one international conference is mandatory. 
    2. General skills (together with C: minimum 8, maximum 20 EC) 
    3. Scientific specialization (together with B: minimum 8, maximum 20 EC)
    4. Research-related activities (minimum 8, maximum 20 EC)

    The first version of the Training and Supervision Plan will be submitted, together with Form I, to the department (is PhD coordinator and the Vice Dean) within the first month of the admission of the PhD candidate. The Training and Supervision Plan is reviewed during the annual review (jaargesprek) of the PhD candidate with his/her supervisor(s). 

    For more specific information see the website of your graduate school or ask your PhD coordinator.

    DepartmentName key user and email addressName PhD coordinator and email address
    Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Sciences (AIMMS)Secretariaat
    Jurgen Haanstra   
    Computer ScienceMojca Lovrencak / Caroline Waij / Hellen Drooger
    Jacopo Urbani
    Earth SciencesFenny Bosse / Lesley Wuite /
    Monica Sanchez Roman
    Ecological SciencesTanja Elzer
    Toby Kiers
    Environment & Health (AIMMS)Caroline de Graaf / Renate Mooij
    Jurgen Haanstra 
    Health SciencesJozien Vedder
    Hanneke van Dongen
    Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)Marjolijn Staarink
    Paolo Scussoline
    MathematicsMariëlle van der Aa
    Rob van der Vorst
    Molecular Cell Biology (AIMMS)Jeannet Wijker / Jacqueline Cransberg
    Jurgen Haanstra
    NeurosciencesAnna du Pree / Brigitte Borgman / Eline van Zon
    Renée Lustenhouwer
    Physics & AstronomyMarja Herronen / Chandra Westmaas-Doest
    Rick Bethlem
    AthenaJustine Hazenkamp-Browne / Lotte Snellenburg
    Barbara Regeer


  • PhD courses

    An overview of PhD courses can be found here. Here you can select for courses supplied by the different departments (Graduate schools) of the Faculty of Science.

    For general questions on education, PhD candidates can contact the PhD coordinator of the department (see schedule under Training and Supervision Plan (TSP)).

    Below you will find the description of the Research Integrity Course of the Faculty of Science.

    Course Research Integrity
    All PhD candidates that started after 1 April 2015 are required to take a course on research integrity.

    This PhD course is only for PhD candidates of the Faculty of Science.

    The aims of the course are to:

    1. introduce you to the topic research integrity;
    2. help you identifying any potential grey areas in your research field;
    3. stimulate an open discussion on research integrity matters on the work floor.

    Part I 2022
    13.00 - 17.15
    Part II 2022
    13.00 - 16.30
    1 November 2022 (Online, fully booked)
    13 December 2022 (On campus, some spaces left)

    31 October (Online, some spaces left)

    15 November (Online, fully booked)

    Part I 2023
    13.00 - 17.15
    Part II 2023
    13.00 - 16.30
    31 January 2023      (On campus)
    28 March 2023         (Online)
    15 May 2023            (On campus)
    4 July 2023              (Online)
    3 October 2023        (On campus)
    14 November 2023  (On campus)
    12 December 2023  (Online)

    13 February 2023      (On campus)
    3 April 2023               (On campus)
    6 June 2023               (Online)
    18 September 2023  (On campus)
    6 November 2023     (On campus)
    18 December 2023   (Online)

    You can register for the course Research Integrity after registration in Hora Finita and receipt of the promotiebesluit/doctorate admission document.

    For registration in Hora Finita you can contact your department secretary office.

    After receipt of the promotiebesluit/doctorate admission document, you will be invited for the course Research Integrity by the board secretary, Maaike Croes.

    When you have been registered for this course, you will receive an email of with login data for the online course Epigeum, which you have to complete before following the Research Integrity course part I.

    Please send the certificate that you receive after completing the Epigeum online course ultimately two weeks prior the start of part I of the Research Integrity Course to Maaike Croes, ( or

    For information on the course: Brochure Research Integrity Course.

    For more information, contact Maaike Croes:

    Information will also be sent after registration for the course

  • Hora finita

    Registration of the promotion trajectory 
    The promotion trajectory has to be registered in the tracking system Hora Finita. This trajectory has to be started by the secretary of your department (see schedule below). When this has started you will receive an email with the request fill in all information needed and upload the required documents. The whole process of the beginning to your defence will be registered in Hora Finita. When you have any questions, please contact the secretary of your department. 

    Hora Finita Login 
    Go to and then click the button 'login with VUnetID'. 

  • PhD Support

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers its employees a varied range of training programmes, courses and workshops. You will find the complete range in the Learning Management System (LMS). The Quick Reference Card (QRC) ‘Search and register for courses and update your learning plan’ explains how the LMS works. You can find this QRC via the link to the LMS.

    VU courses, especially for PhD’s, are:

  • PhD Council

    Please visit the webpage of the Science Faculty PhD Council: 

  • Post PhD

    As a PhD trajectory enters its final phase, the question of what to do next becomes more pressing. The PhD programmes at Vrije Universiteit are an excellent stepping stone for careers both inside and outside of the academic world. Doctoral candidates at VU Amsterdam have the opportunity to discuss different career prospects through the duration of the PhD programme. 

    We offer PhD candidates career orientation courses in the early stages of their trajectory and encourage them to strategically work towards their professional goals over the course of their stay at VU Amsterdam. 

    A career in science 
    Most academic positions at Dutch universities are financed by external research funds. The ability to acquire research grants is crucial for a career in science. Our Grants Desk offers professional advice and dedicated support to all of our researchers in the acquisition of external funding. 

    It also offers a special support programme for PhD's seeking to apply for a Veni grant, the most commonly-awarded grant for carrying out independent research after completing a PhD. Many researchers also apply for the NWO Rubicon grant, which enables them to gain experience at leading research institutes abroad. 

    You can also check the academic vacancies at to see what places are available. Academic vacancies are also posted at 

    A career elsewhere 
    The vast majority of PhD candidates will have to continue their career outside academia. It is therefore essential that early career researchers timely orientate to appropriate positions in the industry, or a societal context, before their contract ends. 

    Whatever career path you choose after completing your doctorate at Vrije Universiteit, we offer all of our candidates a life-long relationship of mutual benefit by inviting them to join our Alumni network and to remain part of the VU community.