At Maastricht University, a PhD degree is not just a study but a serious research project that adds new knowledge to a given field. There are three ways to become a PhD candidate at UM, which are outlined below. As a PhD candidate, you’ll spend most of your time conducting original research and writing a dissertation. You might also follow courses relevant to your research or have teaching responsibilities as well. Most candidates take four years to complete their dissertation and earn their degree. Requirements for our PhD programmes vary, but you will at least need a master’s degree, a high level of English proficiency and a strong academic record.
- UM is ranked 10th in the world for universities under 50 years old
- We award 250-300 PhD degrees annually
- Our research programmes address critical societal challenges and often have a multidisciplinary focus
There are three ways to obtain a PhD at Maastricht University:
Apply for a paid PhD position
As a paid PhD candidate, you’ll be an employee of the university and will conduct research in conjunction with a faculty, research school or institute. You can search for a PhD vacancy on Academic Transfer or contact a faculty directly.
Note: FHML/MUMC+ discerns 4 types of PhDs.
Enrol in a PhD training programme
Several of our graduate schools and research institutes offer PhD training programmes. In these programmes, you will follow a number of courses as well as write a dissertation. We have both full-time and part-time programmes.
Obtain external funding & pitch your idea
Do you have a specific research proposal that does not match one of our vacancies? Then you can also obtain external funding and pitch your idea to one of our faculties, graduate schools or research institutes.
Why Maastricht University?
The Netherlands ranks second worldwide in the number of publications per researcher and third worldwide in the impact of research publications, according to the Netherlands organisation for international cooperation in higher education (NUFFIC). At Maastricht University, PhD candidates are respected as full-fledged members of our research community. You'll be treated as a peer and will be given all the support you need for your research. There is a high level of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional cooperation at UM, and PhDs often complete their dissertation alongside their career. Such a commitment requires hard work and fortitude. And it especially requires the capacity to innovate, to come up with new ideas and new ways of seeing and applying knowledge.
Maastricht University was the first university in the Netherlands to strive for internationalisation. Almost half of our students and 40% of our academic staff come from abroad. Each faculty, school and institute has extensive international partnership networks and the university encourages international research collaborations. Students and researchers have many opportunities to study and work abroad, and our graduates are eagerly sought in the international labour market and research community.
Active PhD community
At Maastricht University, we have a vibrant PhD community. There are many ways to connect with your peers on a social and professional level:
Current PhD candidates
In the overview for current PhDs, you can find more information on:
- additional courses
- professional development opportunities
- practical matters
Have you finished your bachelor’s and would like to pursue a PhD? Then you should consider one of our research master’s programmes, which specifically prepare you to be successful as a doctoral candidate. In some of these programmes, more than 90% of the students go on to become PhD candidates. You can find the research master's programmes in our master's overview.
Defending your thesis
A PhD Defence ceremony is a formal occasion with strict protocols governing each person’s role, responsibility, and even the language used. It all works a bit like a trial, hence the term ‘PhD defence’. If you are a PhD candidate at the end of your trajectory you need to formally request permission for a public defense ceremony soon. In this website you find information on practical matters you need to arrange before and during your doctoral research and explains how to go about your your PhD defense.
One step closer to an anti-stress pill
Why are some people more sensitive to stress than others? Dennis Hernaus was hired as a PhD candidate to study the relationship between stress and dopamine levels of patients using PET scanners. He found that low dopamine levels are associated with increased sensitivity to stress and vice versa.
Wrestling with medical-ethical dilemmas during WWII
Is it okay for a doctor to make someone ill or appear ill if it saves them from being boarded on a train and sent to a death camp? Hannah van den Ende studied the experiences of 534 Dutch-Jewish doctors who wrestled with this type of ethical dilemma during WWII.
Studying HIV-related stigma in virtual reality
Stigmatising behaviour is often unconscious. People don't usually realise that they treat HIV patients differently. But the consequences are real. Henna Toppenberg and her PhD supervisor Rob Ruiter are using virtual reality to gain more insight into this behaviour so they can help bring about change.
A Beginner's Guide to Dutch Academia
Detailed information on Dutch research and higher education can be found in A Beginner's Guide to Dutch Academia.
Hortense Jongen winner of The 2018 Dissertation Prize
The 2018 Dissertation Prize, this year awarded for the best doctoral dissertation from the inner city faculties, went to Hortense Jongen from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Her thesis is entitled: ‘Combating corruption the soft way: The authority of peer reviews in the global fight against graft.’