Application guide for external CAPHRI PhD candidates

TEMPORARY APPLICATION STOP: we are sorry to inform you that we cannot consider external PhD aplications at the moment. Obtaining a doctoral degree from Maastricht University is considered to be very prestigious and in our School CAPHRI we receive a lot of applications for our PhD programme. At the moment we experience the application requests to have outgrown the level of high quality, individual training and supervision that our scientific staff can offer. This has lead us to the decision to pause the enrollment of external PhD candidates. At this point this decision is indefinitely and we will communicate any changes in this decision on this website. 

PhD candidates in the Netherlands are not students, but they are trained ‘on the job’ and work rather independently, but under expert supervision of research staff in research teams.

Besides internal PhD candidates, who are employed by the Faculty, CAPHRI offers external PhD places. External PhD candidates are not employed by the Faculty and do not receive a salary. They conduct their research under the distant supervision of one or more CAPHRI researchers, who have expertise on the proposed topic. A local supervisor (PhD) can be added to the supervisory team if the senior supervisor agrees. Training options of the PhD candidate will be tailored to the project after discussion with the supervisory team. External PhD candidates generally do the research abroad (in the country of origin or where they are employed) and should be prepared to come to Maastricht one or several times during the project for supervision and training.

As they receive no salary from the Faculty, external PhD candidates should provide for their own income and living expenses. Therefore, they generally perform their PhD studies alongside a (full-time or part-time) job, or have already obtained a scholarship. In principle, our researchers do not support a grant application for a PhD trajectory. CAPHRI does not charge a fee for enrolment nor supervision. All our PhD candidates are embedded in one of CAPHRI's research programmes and get access to our PhD contact persons and online facilities of Maastricht University.

Selection of external PhD candidates and criteria

A doctoral degree from Maastricht University is prestigious. CAPHRI will therefore only accept the most serious, talented and ambitious candidates after a strict selection procedure. Candidates need to demonstrate their motivation and suitability for the proposed project based on prior education, research experiences and English writing and communication skills. Having published a scientific paper in an international peer-reviewed journal will increase chances of being accepted. External PhD candidates should dispose of sufficient financial means to support themselves as well as their research. 

As a part of the selection procedure diplomas / certificates as well as the educational programmes will be checked by NUFFIC (Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education).


If you think you fullfill all criteria and are eligible for the doctoral degree (you must have a Master’s degree as stated in the UM Regulation governing the attainment of doctoral degrees), there are two ways to apply:

1. You can apply for one of our PhD opportunities (see the overview here) by sending a motivation letter and CV (view CV guidelines here) that clearly indicates your excellence in prior education and research experiences to the senior supervisor. He or she will assess the quality of your application and match it to the proposed project. If positive, you will be invited for a (telephone or online) interview. If the supervisory team has confidence that a PhD can be completed successfully, you will be registered at CAPHRI.

2. You can send us a clear and concise research proposal according to our format (here). Please first consult our website to see whether your proposed topic fits CAPHRI's research lines (see 'Our research'), or whether another FHML School would suit your backgrond and proposed topic better. Your research proposal, including a CV (view CV guidelines here) that clearly indicates your excellence in prior education and research experiences, can be send to: The quality of both documents and the chances of finding a suitable supervisor will be assessed. If this is positive, we will do our best to find potential supervisors within our School that can be approached by you, to further explore your plans and topic. If the supervisors are convinced of your quality to successfully accomplish a PhD trajectory you will be registered at CAPHRI. 


Procedure after selection

After registration, the external PhD candidate will develop the preliminary project proposal into a Personal Research Plan and draw up a Training and Supervision Plan, to be submitted 12 weeks after the start of the PhD trajectory.

More information about PhD trajectories at CAPHRI, can be found in our PhD guide.


Should you have any questions, please contact Chantal Claessens at