Our PhD programme

PhD candidate

As a PhD Graduate School, CAPHRI facilitates talented Master graduates from all over the world to obtain a PhD by conducting a research project rather independently, under guidance of expert researchers. You will be trained on the job, by working in research teams under the guidance of research staff and develop competencies and skills needed for high-quality research. Besides, you will be trained to make use of various scientific perspectives by learning from researchers of other departments and disciplines. You have opportunities to follow content-related, methodological as well as transferable skills courses to increase your employability in- and outside the academic world. The PhD trajectory results in a thesis and is awarded with a PhD degree from Maastricht University after having successfully defended your thesis during the public defense ceremony.

CAPHRI has more than 400 PhD candidates. Around 45 percent of them is coming from abroad, ranging from the region, Europe but also from all continents in the world. All PhD candidates are embedded in one (or more) Research Line(s) and are based at the Department of their main supervisor. Approximately 55 to 60 PhD theses are defended on average per year.

Objectives of the CAPHRI PhD programme

PhD working on laptop

The main objective of the PhD programme is to enable PhD candidates to carry out a research project, which culminates in the writing of a thesis.

The final achievement standards for a doctorate within CAPHRI are:

  • The successful candidate has become a well-equipped, independent researcher and well-rounded academic professional
  • The successful candidate is able to work in a transdisciplinary team & international environment
  • The successful candidate has acquired both research skills and transferable skills
  • Moreover, important for CAPHRI PhD candidates is, similar to all CAPHRI research, that their project has societal relevance practical or political implications for health care practices and/or patients.

Types of PhD candidates

CAPHRI identifies four types of PhD candidates, as defined by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU):

1. PhD candidates who are employed by Maastricht University and receive a monthly salary (internal PhD candidates).
2. Researchers employed by UM or MUMC+ doing a PhD.
3. Contract PhD candidates who are not employed by UM or MUMC+, but of whom the PhD trajectory is financed by a Scholarship, or they are employed at an external employer who enables them to conduct PhD research during or in addition to their regular tasks.
4. External PhD candidates who are not supported by means of a Scholarship or time/funding of an employer but do a PhD in their own time and with their own funds.

Contract and external PhD candidates have no employment contract with UM or MUMC+ and receive no salary from the UM/MUMC+. Most of them do their PhD with long-distance means from all over the world and come over to Maastricht from time to time, although those with a full-time Scholarship for their PhD may also be based in Maastricht. 

Team of supervisors

During all steps of your PhD trajectory, supervision will be provided by a team of expert researchers, the supervision team. This team consists of a promoter (professor or associate professor) and one or two co-supervisors, of which one is your ‘daily supervisor’. In exceptional cases and in case of a joint or double degree, a fourth supervisor is added to the team. Generally, the promoter and some, or all, of the team members are from CAPHRI, but a team can also be comprised by researchers of another School, Faculty or external organisation. The supervision process consists of guidance and support during the whole process, and more concrete, of feedback during the writing process, methodological advice on e.g. data analysis and advice on participation in trainings and conferences and an eye for your current and future development. In case of contract and external PhD candidates who do not live in the vicinity, communication mainly takes place by long-distance means.

Research staff of the Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences who supervise PhD candidates are invited to participate in a 4-day course Competence Development for supervisors of PhD candidates ‘BKB’. This course facilitates them to develop their coaching and guidance competences with regards to PhD supervision.

Duration of the PhD trajectory

How much time it takes to complete the PhD research varies. A standard, employed PhD trajectory is four years full-time. The duration of part time, contract and external PhD trajectories depends on the percentage of time available to spend on their PhD research, as well as prior research experience. It is important that at the start of each PhD project the starting and end date are carefully estimated and determined in agreement with the supervision team, laid down in the Personal Research Plan (PRP), and rediscussed annually.

Becoming a PhD candidate at CAPHRI

Information on how to apply for a PhD position at CAPHRI can be found on our webpage: ‘Becoming a PhD candidate at CAPHRI’.