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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
    secretariaat.sf.beta@vu.nl
    Jurgen Haanstra
    mt@aimms.vu.nl   
    Computer ScienceMojca Lovrencak / Caroline Waij / Hellen Drooger
    informatica.secretariaat.beta@vu.nl
    Jacopo Urbani
    j.urbani@vu.nl
    Earth SciencesFenny Bosse / Lesley Wuite
    f.bosse@vu.nl / l.d.wuite@vu.nl
    Monica Sanchez Roman
    m.sanchezroman@vu.nl
    Ecological SciencesTanja Elzer
    ecologie.secretariaat.beta@vu.nl
    Toby Kiers
    toby.kiers@vu.nl
    Environment & Health (AIMMS)Caroline de Graaf / Renate Mooij
    secretariaat.eh.beta@vu.nl
    Jurgen Haanstra
    mt@aimms.vu.nl 
    Health SciencesJozien Vedder
    secretariaat.agw.beta@vu.nl
    Hanneke van Dongen
    j.m.van.dongen@vu.nl
    Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)Marjolijn Staarink
    marjolijn.staarink@vu.nl
    Paolo Scussoline
    paolo.scussolini@vu.nl
    MathematicsMariëlle van der Aa
    m.vander.aa@vu.nl
    Rob van der Vorst
    r.c.a.m.vander.vorst@vu.nl
    Molecular Cell Biology (AIMMS)Jeannet Wijker / Jacqueline Cransberg
    secretariaat.mcb.beta@vu.nl
    Jurgen Haanstra
    mt@aimms.vu.nl
    NeurosciencesAnna du Pree / Brigitte Borgman / Eline van Zon
    hf-neurowetenschappen.beta@vu.nl
    Renée Lustenhouwer
    r.lustenhouwer@vu.nl
    Physics & AstronomyMarja Herronen / Chandra Westmaas-Doest
    natsecr.beta@vu.nl
    Rick Bethlem
    h.l.bethlem@vu.nl
    AthenaJustine Hazenkamp-Browne / Lotte Snellenburg
    secretariaat.athena.beta@vu.nl
    Barbara Regeer
    b.j.regeer@vu.nl

                                                     

  • PhD courses

    Below, you will find an overview of the PhD programme for each department of the faculty of Science. Please visit the pages of the specific department for more information about the education offered. Some departments have joint a national research school. Therefore the website links in some cases to a web address not part of the VU. For general questions PhD students can contact the PhD coordinator of the department (see schedule under Training and Supervision Plan). 

    Courses offered by the VU 
    Scientific Integrity 

    For more information contact Maaike Croes: bestuurssecretariaat.beta@vu.nl. 
    All PhD candidates that started after 1 April 2015 are required to take a course on scientific integrity. 

    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 of research integrity matters on the work floor.

    Courses 2021

    Deel I 2021Deel II 2021
    09 March 2021 (13.00– 17.15)
    19 April 2021 (13.00 – 17.15)
    28 June 2021 (13.00 – 17.15)
    05 October 2021 (13.00 – 17.00)
    02 November 2021 (09.00 –13.15)
    07 December 2021 (13.00 – 17.15) 
    19 January 2021 (13.00 – 17.00)
    17 May 2021 (09.00 – 13.00)
    21 June 2021 (13.00 – 17.00)
    14 September 2021 (09.00 – 13.00)
    23 November 2021 (09.00 – 13.00)
    13 December 2021 (13.00 – 17.00)


    Courses 2022

    Deel I 2022Deel II 2021
    07 February 2022 (13.00– 17.15)
    04 April 2022 (13.00– 17.15)
    04 July 2022 (13.00– 17.15)
    04 Oktober 2022 (13.00– 17.15)
    13 December 2022 (13.00– 17.15)
    08 March 2022 (13.00 – 17.00)
    10 May 2022 (13.00 – 17.00)
    13 September 2022 (13.00 – 17.00)
    15 November 2022 (13.00 – 17.00)


    You can subscribe for the first part of the course when you have 1) a registration of your PhD Admission in Hora Finita (please contact your department secretary for more information) 2) and you have completed the online course Research Integrity. Please send your certificate of the results of the online course Research Integrity to Simone Zindel/Maaike Croes at bestuurssecretariaat.beta@vu.nl .

    Herewith more information about the course:

    Course ‘Writing a Data Management Plan’ for PhDs from FGB and Faculty of Science 
    Sign up through the Library Event Calendar  

    The course will be taught in two different versions: one for research with personal data (in the sense of the GDPR) and one for research without personal data. When registering for the course, please make sure that you sign up for the right version.

    Course dates: 

    • With GDPR: 15-12-2020, 12-1-2021, 19-1-2021 – registration closes 24-11-2020
    • Without GDPR: 26-1-2021, 16-2-2021, 23-2-2021 – registration closes 5-1-2021
    • With GDPR: 2-3-2021, 23-3-2021, 30-3-2021 – registration closes 9-2-2021
    • With GDPR: 14-4-2021, 12-5-2021, 26-5-2021 – registration closes 24-3-2021
    • Without GDPR: 20-5-2021, 10-6-2021, 17-6-2021 – registration closes 29-4-2021

    RegistrationLibrary Event Calendar (please select the course of your choice) 
    Workload: 1 EC 
    Target group: PhD students at FGB/Beta at the beginning of their research project (± 1st year) 
    Maximum number of participants: 30 
    Language: the default language for this course is English, but we can switch to Dutch in case all participants speak Dutch. If desired, assignments may be submitted in Dutch as well. 
    Costs: free of charge for VU PhD students 
    Contact: rdm@vu.nl  

    Description  

    The University Library provides training on Research Data Management (RDM) for PhD students. We kindly invite PhD students from the Faculty of Behavioral and Movement Sciences (FGB) and the Faculty of Science to this course on writing a Data Management Plan.  

    Good RDM (e.g. storing, sharing, archiving, describing your research data) contributes to research transparency and integrity. Due to the advance of new technologies, data volumes and numbers of files are constantly increasing. For that reason good data management is an essential part of data-driven research as well. In this course, we will introduce and discuss the different aspects of RDM which typically need to be covered in a data management plan (DMP), such as data description, data storage during research, sharing data with colleagues, data archiving after research and data citation. The various components of research data management will be related to the FAIR principles (that is, principles to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). We will also address the ethical and legal framework, including the General Data Protection Regulation (the European law on privacy), if applicable.  

    In this course, you’ll learn why good RDM is necessary and how it can be beneficial to your research. In two interactive workshops, we will provide you with practical guidelines and instruments to manage your data properly. You will be working on a DMP for your own research, so that you can apply the things you learn to your own project. Your DMP will be peer reviewed by another participant of the course and you will peer review someone else’s DMP. At the end of the course you will also receive feedback from an RDM expert. Due to COVID-19 the workshops currently take place online. 

    The course consists of the elements described below. Part of the materials need to be studied prior to the first workshop. 

    Preparation (reading materials and watching videos) 9 hours
    2 online workshops of 2 hours 4 hours
    Assignment 1 | RDM Framework4 hours
    Assignment 2 | First draft DMP 6 hours
    Peer review DMP 1 hour
    Assignment 3 | Final DMP 4 hours 
    Total 28 hours (= 1 EC)

    You can receive 1 EC for this course. In order to obtain this credit, you need to meet the following requirements:

    • Participate in both workshops
    • Submit all assignments
    • Do a peer review of someone else’s DMP
    • Assignment 3 should be of sufficient quality

    Links to graduate school pages 

    Athena Institute
    Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Sciences (AIMMS)
    Computer Science
    Earth Sciences
    Ecological Sciences
    Environment & Health (AIMMS)
    Health Sciences
    Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)
    Mathematics
    Molecular Cell Biology (AIMMS)
    Neurosciences
    Physics & Astronomy
  • 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 horafinita.vu.nl 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: https://vu.nl/en/employee/science-getting-started/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 VU.nl to see what places are available. Academic vacancies are also posted at www.academictransfer.nl 

    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.