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Application and admission

At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam we have two types of PhD candidates: internal and external. Internal PhD candidates are paid employees of the university and enter into an employment contract with VU Amsterdam. External PhD candidates do their PhD at VU Amsterdam with foreign funding or a scholarship, or are self-funded professionals or candidates.

Application and admission

Internal PhD candidates are paid employees of VU Amsterdam and they can apply through our dedicated site for vacancies: PhD vacancies.

External PhD candidates can apply for a PhD trajectory which is funded through external means. Application as an external PhD candidate is usually done by:

•Contacting a member of the VU Amsterdam faculty, Graduate School or Research Institute directly to indicate your interest in working with them.

•Using the PhD application form* where a member of the PhD recruitment team will facilitate the contact to your preferred supervisor on your behalf: Apply for a PhD.

Within the Research Portal it is possible to search for a suitable supervisor for a PhD trajectory.

In order to apply for a PhD programme at VU Amsterdam you will need the following documents*:

  • Master's degree certificate or equivalent qualification
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Preliminary research proposal (up to 800 words to indicate fields of interest)
  • Copy of ID
  • Language requirements/Scores from TOEFL and GRE tests (if applicable)

*Please do not use this form if you are looking for a PhD trajectory at the Faculty of Religion and Theology, Amsterdam UMC Doctoral School or The Graduate School of Dentistry (ACTA).

*Please note that each faculty reserves the right for other and additional documentation certificates. You might be asked for this documentation during the application procedure online by the respective faculty/graduate school. Faculties/graduate schools might also impose different regulations and requirements for admission. They will verify whether your application is up to these regulations and requirements in order to proceed to admission. The application is therefore not a guarantee of acceptance and admission.

For internal PhD candidates, check the guideline for the appointment policy PhD candidates.

Finding a supervisor

The most essential part of the application process for the PhD trajectory at VU Amsterdam is finding a supervisor. We have a Research Portal which can help you look for a potential supervisor. You can indicate this person’s name during your application via application form or you may contact the supervisor directly. We strongly encourage you to research the supervisor and thoroughly and to tailor all communications to the individual. Supervisors have to consider your research proposal and whether it fits in their research agenda before deciding whether to proceed with an interview.

Tuition fees

At VU Amsterdam external PhD candidates pay tuition fees on a yearly basis. The fees are paid directly to the faculty or graduate school. Each faculty/graduate school defines their own tuition fees based on the training provision, supervision time and access to facilities, space and internet. However, faculties offer exemptions and tuition fee waivers under certain conditions. You can inquire in more detail about this once you have received an offer letter confirming that your application has been successful. Further information about tuition fees and other elements related to the specific policies of each of our faculties can be found on the individual graduate school pages.

Graduate Schools

Information about PhD trajectories at each of our Graduate School can be found here.