PhD programme

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. 

You can find information on how to apply for a PhD position at the general VU page about PhD’s.

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 Dutch / English 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.

DepartmentNameEmail address
Athena InstituteBarbara Regeer 
Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Sciences (AIMMS)Jurgen Haanstra 
Computer ScienceAnton Feenstra 
Earth Sciences Monica Sanchez Roman 
Ecological Sciences Toby Kiers 
Environment & Health (AIMMS) Jurgen Haanstra 
Health Sciences Maartje van Stralen 
Institute for Environmental Studies Hans van der Woerd 
Mathematics Rob van der Vorst 
Molecular Cell Biology (AIMMS) Jurgen Haanstra 
NeurosciencesEls Borghols 
Physics & Astronomy Erwin Peterman

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 Simone Zindel and Maaike Croes: 
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.
The next course Scientific Integrity part I for PhD’s is starting 7 April 2020. There are two more courses (part one) planned this year, on 29 September 2020 and 1 December 2020. Before our first meeting, planned on 7 April 2020, it is expected to complete the online course Research Integrity (please send your certificate before 20 March 2020 to Simone Zindel/Maaike Croes at The second part of the course Scientific Integrity is planned on 28 May and there will be a course planned on 17 November 2020. Before you can participate in the course you must be registered in Hora Finita. For details about registration in Hora Finita, please contact your department secretary.

Herewith more information about the course: Training ‘Writing a Data Management Plan’ for PhDs from FGB and Faculty of Science 
Sign up through the Library Event Calendar 

Course dates:
  • Tuesday 26 November 2019, 9.30-12.30 (research without personal data); registration closes 4 November 2019; NB: if you have registered for this event already, please be aware that the target group is PhDs whose research does not involve personal data in the sense of the GDPR. If you are working with personal data, please sign up for one of the corresponding versions of this course in 2020.
  • Wednesday 29 January 2020, 9.30-12.30 (research with personal data); registration closes 8 January 2020
  • Tuesday 31 March 2020, 14.00-17.00 (research with personal data); registration closes 3 March 2020
  • Thursday 7 May 2020, 9.30-12.30 (research without personal data); registration closes 9 April 2020

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 

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 workshop, 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 training, you’ll learn why good RDM is necessary and how it can be beneficial to your research. In an interactive workshop, 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. 

This training requires some preparation from your side. You will be asked to study some materials about RDM (two short articles and a website). In addition, you need to write a first draft of a DMP, which will be worked out in more detail during the workshop. 

Estimated time investment for the preparation: 20 hours 
Credits for this course: 1 EC (you will receive a certificate upon completion of all compulsory components) 

Detailed overview of time investment: 

Preparation (reading materials)10 hours
Study DMP templates and choose one for the assignment2 hours
Write first draft of DMP 8 hours
Discuss DMP with your supervisor(s)1 hour
Workshop3 hours
Finalise your DMP4 hours 
Total 28 hours (= 1 EC)

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
Molecular Cell Biology (AIMMS)
Physics & Astronomy

Request for certificate  
Once the supervisor has approved the dissertation, the PhD candidate shall submit the final version of the courses/activities that he/she has taken to the department (is PhD coordinator). The final version is submitted together with Form II to the Vice Dean for a final check before receiving the faculty certificate.

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'. 

Download the manuals for PhD candidates, PhD supervisors and Graduate Schools. 
Manuals at the VU general page 

Read the FAQ's at the VU general page 

Key user(s) per department 
Please contact the key user of your department if you have any specific questions about Hora Finita which are not answered in one of the manuals. 

DepartmentNameEmail address
Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Sciences (AIMMS)Laura van Zwieten/Anna
Computer ScienceKojca Lovrencak/Caroline
Earth SciencesFenny
Ecological SciencesTanja
Environment & Health (AIMMS)Caroline de
Health SciencesHeleen
Institute for Environmental SciencesMarjolijn
MathematicsMariëlle van der
Molecular Cell Biology (AIMMS)Jeannet Wijker/Jacqueline
NeurosciencesAnna du
Physics & AstronomyRegine Anmuth (Secretariaat)

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.