Admission of PhD candidates

There are two main categories of PhD candidates in the VU-GSSS, depending on their funding:

1. Candidates who are employed by the Faculty of Social Sciences as a PhD (in Dutch: promovendus) and have a legally enshrined labour contract.
For the selection and admission of PhDs (promovendi) employed by the Faculty of Social Sciences the following applies: the standard procedure for vacant PhD positions is an open selection (including an internationally advertised call for applications) by an interdisciplinary committee (of at least three members one of whom is a female). The Academic Director of VU-GSSS plays an advisory role. Candidates allowed to enter the selection procedure have to meet the minimum requirements: holding a Master degree of a Dutch university or comparable foreign degree and excellent English language proficiency; for non-Dutch and non-native English speaking candid
ates the MSR minimum norm applies. It is understood that the selection committee nominates the best candidate possible for the position. Enrollment in the PhD programme is not limited to one particular moment, but the VU-GSSS advises a preferential starting date (September 1) in order to facilitate participation in the 1st year programme. One can apply for available PhD positions pretty much the same way one would apply for any other job.

Please note that if you apply for this type of PhD position it is not necessary to fill out the application form!

2. External PhD candidates.
This category is characterized by a large diversity of PhDs with different contract types such as NWO-funded allowance-based PhDs from developing countries, NUFFIC-funded candidates, self-financing candidates, PhDs partially or fully-supported by third parties (such as the private sector, institutes of higher education, etc.).

The PhD programme for external candidates appeals to two distinct audiences. The full-time programme offers a unique possibility to candidates, who are either self-financing, or receiving a scholarship to continue their academic training. The programme enables the candidates to participate in the intellectual life of the Department of their choice and the VU-GSSS, and occasionally offers teaching assistantships. The part-time programme meets the needs of mid-career professionals working in public or private organizations who desire to deepen their methodological and theoretical training in the discipline and use their knowledge and experience to write a doctoral dissertation. The flexible programme allows for part-time study and requires minimal on-campus residence.

The selection of the external PhD candidate is made by the VU-GSSS and the Department jointly, on the basis of the standard application procedure. Although we do not have set deadlines for applications, we strongly encourage people to start in September, and therefore send in their application before 1st April.

External PhD candidates will have to find their own supervisor and second supervisor who can supervise their research. Your research should fit in one of the ongoing research programmes at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The selection of the external PhD candidates is made by the VU-GSSS and the Department jointly, on the basis of the standard application procedure, set out in the application form. The application package contains:

  • a letter of motivation
  • a curriculum vitae
  • a Master’s degree equivalent to a Dutch Master’s in the social sciences
  • MA grading list
  • adequate knowledge of English (minimum required is TOEFL 100, IELTS 7.0)*
  • two academic references
  • a preliminary research plan
  • an endorsement by one of the professors in the Department, expressing his/her willingness to serve as supervisor (promotor).  

*VU University Amsterdam requires all applicants who have not completed their education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia or who have not obtained an International Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma to take an English language test and to submit their score as part of their application.

Application form

Fill out the application form