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PhD programme

PhD programme Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science (BETA) at the VU has a broad range of research. One of the binding factors between the 10 departments / graduate schools of the faculty is the combination of fundamental and applied research. Approximately 700 PhD candidates are working and studying at the faculty and contribute to the high quality research of the faculty.

General information on the PhD programme at the VU can be found here.

Career development tips and good practices for PhD candidates & Postdocs can be found here.

More information on the PhD programme

  • Promotion trajectory

    PhD programmes at VU Amsterdam generally last three to four years, depending on the scientific discipline, type of appointment and funding. The VU Doctorate Regulations and the admission procedure apply to all PhD candidates, regardless of their type of appointment. The Doctorate Regulations cover matters as admission to the PhD programme and the responsibilities and authority of those involved in the programme.

    The admission process begins when an employee is hired as an internal PhD candidate, or, in the case of researchers with a scholarship, externally financed PhD candidates, or external PhD candidates, when the supervisor agrees to supervise the PhD candidate. Generally, graduate schools/departments are responsible for the admission process. The admission process starts after the application for the doctorate is successful.

    The PhD candidate and the supervision team are registered in the registration and tracking system Hora Finita. Follow-up steps in the PhD programme are also registered in this.

    Training and supervision plan (TSP)
    As soon as possible after registration, the agreements about supervision, research and education are registered in the training and supervision plan (TSP).

    The educational programme for PhD candidates provides for a variety of activities that strengthen the academic, professional, and general skills of PhD candidates. During the doctoral period, each PhD candidate must obtain 30 EC. Guidelines for following PhD candidate education can be found here.

    Good supervision of PhD candidates is crucial; it contributes to the well-being of PhD candidates and an open, safe and inclusive research culture, high research quality, and it prevents delays and dropout of PhD programmes. To facilitate adequate supervision for PhD candidates and supervisors, Golden rules for supervision have been established. There are also suggestions for a go/no go procedure at the end of the first year.

    For supervisors of PhD candidates, a PhD supervisors starting page has been prepared with eight relevant links. A training course on supervising PhD candidates is available for supervisors. Junior supervisors with less than five years of supervisory experience are required to take the training. For supervisors with minimally five years of supervisory experience there is a course Inspired Supervision.

    Thesis and Plagiarism Scan
    Guidelines and suggestions for dissertation composition and scope can be found here. Authorship of scientific articles should be well agreed upon between PhD candidate and supervisors. A presentation on authorship can be found here.

    All PhD candidates starting from 1 September 2022 are required to submit one written product in the first phase of the PhD programme to a plagiarism check. In addition, all PhD candidates, who started before September 2022 can voluntarily use the tool up to once a year.

  • Training and Supervision Plan (TSP)

    Each PhD candidate develops an individual Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) that is uploaded to the VU Hora Finita. This plan is tailor-made for the PhD candidate with the aim of becoming a well-qualified and independent researcher.

    The TSP contains the agreements between the PhD candidate and supervisors on several issues, including:

    1. Supervision. This defines who will act as supervisor(s) (under whose daily supervision the PhD candidate will work and who will be the promotor). It also includes agreements on the structure and frequency of supervision by the promotor and daily supervisor(s). If the supervisor is not also the promotor, it is also registered that at the start of the doctoral research, as well as those moments that are decisive for the progress of the research, the PhD candidate has a conversation about the doctoral research with the promotor. The promotor and PhDl candidate shall meet at least once a year.
    2. Research. This concerns the topic and overall approach to the research.
    3. Training. This refers to the training plan which consists of four parts:

    A. Mandatory components (minimum 4 EC).

    • The course Scientific Integrity, taken preferably in the first and no later than in the second year. The faculty board admits students to this course only after full registration in Hora Finita.
    • A visit to at least one international conference

    B. General skills (together with C: minimum 8, maximum 20 EC)

    C. Scientific specialization (together with B: minimum 8, maximum 20 EC)

    D. Research-related activities (minimum 8, maximum 20 EC)

    The first version of the TSP together with Form I is submitted to the department (PhD coordinator and vice dean) within the first month after admission of the PhD candidate. The TSP is reviewed during each PhD candidate’s annual interview with the supervisor(s).

    More information
    More information can be found on the website of the graduate school/department where the research is conducted and from the graduate school's key user(s) of Hora Finita or PhD coordinator(s).

    Department /

    Graduate school

    Key user(s)PhD coordinator(s)

    Tanja Elzer / Caroline de Graaf / Renate Mooij /Jeannet Wijker / Jacqueline Cransberg

    Jurgen Haanstra
    Athena Institute

    Justine Hazenkamp-Browne / Lotte Snellenburg / Evelyne Griffioen / Vanessa Borgart

    Barbara Regeer 
    Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Sciences

    Brigitte Horsten-Niehe / Edsie Engelgeer/Yvette Schipper

    Daan Geerke
    Computer ScienceMojca Lovrencak / Hellen Drooger / Cynthia Bijl de Vroe
    Fabio Massacci
    Earth Sciences

    Fenny Bosse / Anna du Pree

    Monica Sanchez Roman
    Health SciencesJozien Vedder / Diana de Rooy
    Hanneke van Dongen
    Institute for Environmental Studies Marjolijn Staarink
    Paolo Scussolini
    MathematicsMariëlle van der Aa
    Christian Bick
    NeurosciencesBrigitte Borgman / Eline van Zon / Gerda Berkhout / Ramya Balbon / Kim Hubregtse

    Matthijs Verhage / Kim Hubregtse

    Physics & AstronomyMarja Herronen / Brigit Derks
    Rick Bethlem
  • 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 the course on Research Integrity. Preferably, the course is taken in the first year and no later than the second year.

    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 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.

    After 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. Hora Finita supports the processes starting from admission of the PhD candidate until the PhD defense and makes the PhD candidate's progress transparent.

    This trajectory has to be started by the Hora Finita key user(s) of your department/Graduate school (see schedule below) from the secretariat. After this has started, the PhD candidate will receive an email with the request to fill in all information needed and to upload the required documents. The whole process of the beginning to your defence will be registered in Hora Finita. For questions, please contact the secretariat of your department.

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

    More information
    More details can be found here.

    Departments / Graduate schools and Hora Finita key users

    Afdeling/Graduate schoolHora Finita key users

    Tanja Elzer / Caroline de Graaf / Renate Mooij / Jeannet Wijker / Jacqueline Cransberg


    Justine Hazenkamp-Browne / Lotte Snellenburg / Evelyne Griffioen / Vanessa Borgart

    Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Sciences 

    Brigitte Horsten-Niehe / Edsie Engelgeer / Yvette Schipper

    Computer ScienceMojca Lovrencak / Hellen Drooger / Cynthia Bijl de Vroe
    Earth SciencesFenny Bosse / Anna du Pree
    Health SciencesJozien Vedder / Diana de Rooy
    Institute for Environmental Studies Marjolijn Staarink
    MathematicsMariëlle van der Aa
    NeurosciencesBrigitte Borgman / Eline van Zon / Gerda Berkhout / Ramya Balbon / Kim Hubregtse
    Physics & AstronomyMarja Herronen / Brigit Derks
  • PhD support

    General courses
    In addition to subject-oriented courses, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers PhD candidates a variety of general education courses. The complete set of courses can be found in the Learning Management System (LMS). The Quick Reference Card (QRC) ‘Search and register for courses and update your learning plan’ explains how LMS works. This QRC can be found via the link to LMS.

    General VU courses for PhD candidates are:

    • Career orientation for PhD candidates and postdocs
    •  Peer coaching for PhD's and postdocs
    • PhD success and personal efficacy
    • Advanced academic writing for PhD researchers
    • Concise formulation

    Help, support and advice
    For help, support and advice PhD candidates have different options, please consult Help, support and advice for PhD candidates.

    Healthy working conditions for PhD candidates are described in the UNL (formerly: VSNU) document: Healthy working conditions in the Dutch PhD system.

    In 2023, PhD candidate advisors will be appointed in the faculty. The PhD candidate advisor is an independent point of contact for PhD candidates. With the PhD candidate advisor, the PhD candidate can exchange views on the PhD programme, work environment, well-being, and other issues. The PhD candidate advisor can refer the PhD candidate to other people or support at the VU.

  • PhD council

    The Science Faculty PhD Council consists of PhD candidates from various departments within the Science Faculty. The PhD Council aims to support the social and professional interests of the faculty's PhD candidates. Visit the PhD Council website for more information (English only).

  • Preparation on career after PhD

    When a PhD  candidate enters the final phase of the promotion trajectory, the question of what to do after the PhD becomes increasingly urgent. The PhD programmes at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam are an excellent stepping stone for a career both inside and outside academia. The PhD candidates have the opportunity to discuss various career prospects during the duration of the PhD programme.

    The VU offers PhD candidates career orientation courses in the early stages of their promotion trajectory, and encourages them to work strategically towards their professional goals.

    A career outside of science
    The vast majority of the PhD candidates will have to pursue his/her career outside universities after the PhD. It is therefore essential that early-stage researchers orient themselves to suitable positions in industry or a social context in good time, before their contract expires.

    A career in science
    Most scientific positions at Dutch universities are funded by external research funds. Being able to acquire research grants is crucial for a career in science. The VU Grant Desk offers professional advice and dedicated support to researchers in acquiring external funding.

    It also offers a special support program for PhD candidates wishing to apply for a Veni grant, the most widely awarded grant for conducting independent research after obtaining a PhD. Many researchers also apply for the NWO Rubicon grant, which allows them to gain experience at leading research institutes abroad.

    It is also possible to apply for a postdoc position. This is a temporary research position of 2-4 years. For an overview of all postdoc positions (and other possible positions for a PhD, such as junior lecturer or researcher) please refer to the academic job site

    Relation with VU after PhD
    Regardless of the career path taken after receiving the PhD, all PhD candidates are offered a lifelong relationship of mutual benefit by inviting them to join the alumni network and remain part of the VU community.