Finding a PhD position

In the Netherlands there are three types of PhD positions. The PhD candidate is employed by the institution, brings funding with him/her, such as a fellowship or grant, or is funded by his/her external employer. PhD candidates in Holland are regarded as professional researchers rather than as students. The fact that the majority of the PhD candidates is employed, strengthens their status as professional researcher.

PhD researchers often paid employees
Of the total number of PhD candidates in Holland, the majority sign an employment contract with the research institute at which they do their PhD-research. There are two ways to find a PhD position: through vacancies or networks.

In the first case a research group has created a research proposal for which they have created a PhD position. Such positions, open for international candidates, are often advertized internationally by means of job boards such as AcademicTransfer, notices in scientific journals, letters to academic institutions where potential candidates study or on the website of the institution. Candidates wishing to apply should contact the institution directly.

Furthermore, research groups might have some spare budget for innovative research. If you know in which topic you want to do PhD research and you cannot find a vacancy which fits your interests, it is wise to pro-actively propose your research to research groups of your choice. 

Fellowship or grant
About one sixth of the PhD candidates in the Netherlands are not employed by the institution but finance their PhD research through a fellowship or grant. Often these candidates come from abroad. If you want to use this option there are two things you need to arrange:

1. find yourself a fellowship or grant. To find available fellowships and grants please visit and

2. find yourself a supervisor at an institution. A supervisor will support your proposal and serve as the official supervisor for your research. Try to find someone with a leading reputation in your field. The best way to find a supervisor is through international networks in your field. Your own professors and their networks can be a good source of information. 

A PhD next to your job
Sometimes it is possible to obtain a PhD degree next to a (fulltime) job. If you (and your employer) are interested in this option, contact the institution of your choice for more information.