Entry requirements

SHE’s PhD programme requires expertise in the area of medical education or health professions education. A Master degree in Health Professions Education or an equivalent Master degree, offering a comparable theoretical and methodological basis, is necessary in order to join the programme. Without knowledge of the health sciences, medical or broader health professions education literature, and methodological experience, we advise against starting directly with our PhD programme in health professions education. Potential candidates can always contact us to inquire whether their previous education is sufficient for being selected as a potential PhD candidate.

During the application procedure, you will be asked to send an official copy of your previous Master diploma, which will be verified. You do not have to send this copy during the first stage of application (along with the application documents mentioned in the application procedure).

For candidates who do not yet fulfil the entry requirements for the PhD programme, we also offer a Master of Health Professions Education (MHPE) provides a solid basis for a PhD, but also much more.

Language & writing skills

SHE’s PhD programme is publication-based and taught in English. All submitted materials must be in English, and all communication during the programme will be in English. Thus, candidates must have sufficient English proficiency. The TOEFL score should be 550 or above on the paper-based test or 80 or above for the computer-based test, with a minimum of 20 points per skill (reading, listening, speaking and writing).

Academic writing skills are essential for any PhD, especially so for a PhD by publication. There are no formal requirements regarding academic writing skills, but some experience in writing for peer reviewed English-language scientific journals is of great benefit.

Application procedure

Step 1: Contact SHE

Contact the School of Health Professions Education (she@maastrichtuniversity.nl) to inform us of your interest in the PhD programme. All candidates should first write a research proposal. A candidate can start with the PhD programme only after this proposal is approved.


Step 2: Write a research proposal

If you are interested in the PhD programme, we strongly encourage you to attend the advanced course Writing a PhD Research Proposal. It is also possible to enter the programme by directly submitting a research proposal. Below, you can find the steps for direct submission.

A good research proposal describes a central research question that is well embedded in the current, peer-reviewed literature, along with a proposed series of at least four empirical studies (including the methods used for each study) to investigate specific questions in line with the central research question. The proposal should also include a description of the setting in which the studies will be conducted, a reference list of literature, and a timeframe for the entire project.

You can find SHE’s format and criteria for PhD proposals here. 

Examples of accepted PhD proposals

  1. Hiroshi Nishigori, Why do doctors work for patients? – from altruism to prosociality, with the perspective of Bushido
  2. Jonathan Ilgen, Comfort with uncertainty: Reframing our conceptions of how clinicians navigate complex clinical situations.


Step 3: Submission of your PhD proposal

Your PhD research proposal has to be submitted through the web-based portal Journal of SHE PhD Projects in order to be reviewed. Please follow the steps below to submit your proposal:

  1. Make sure that you have contacted SHE about your interest in pursuing a PhD.
  2. Make sure that your PhD proposal follows the SHE standard format for writing your research proposal.
  3. Go to the webpage of the Journal of SHE PhD Projects and follow the steps of the submission process. Please note: the system describes submitting an article, but this refers to a PhD proposal in your case. If you have trouble submitting your proposal, contact n.verleng@maastrichtuniversity.nl


Step 4: Decision on the proposal

When you submit a research proposal, the PhD coordinator on behalf of the SHE research director will conduct the first review. If the topic of the proposal does not fit with our expertise or if the proposal is far below our standards, it will be rejected and cannot be resubmitted during the next 12 months. If the PhD coordinator thinks that the proposal might be of interest, the proposal is reviewed by a review committee (using a standard review form). The PhD coordinator will make a final decision based on the advice of the review committee, if necessary after consultation with SHE’s Scientific Director. There are three possible outcomes: 1) reject, 2) revise and resubmit, or 3) accept. This process normally takes six to eight weeks. Acceptance of the candidate will be based primarily on the quality of the research proposal and the candidate’s CV.


Step 5: Required documents

If the proposal is accepted, the PhD secretariat will contact you with further instructions and requests for information. You will need to submit:

  • A curriculum vitae (including personal details, master’s degree, professional work experience, educational experience, other academic activities and current research interests).
  • A letter of approval (written by the institute where the applicant is currently employed), in which it is stated that the institute agrees on the involvement of the applicant in our PhD programme, as well as who will be involved as the external supervisor (if needed) and under which conditions.

Course fee

The annual fee is €5000 including registration, library access and supervision. SHE reserves the right to adapt the fee without prior notice. Accommodation, travel costs, expenses related to data collection and processing as well as printing costs of the thesis are not included in the fee. The fee needs to be paid each year at the start of the year. If it takes more than four years to complete the PhD thesis, the fee also needs to be paid for each additional year.

Additional costs

If you choose to print your thesis, estimated costs for printing the thesis in the Netherlands are approximately €2,000. Printing can also be done in your home country or institution. Participants are free to choose where they print their PhD thesis.

Cancellation policy

If a PhD candidate decides to stop their participation in the programme, the candidate has to inform the PhD coordinator and SHE’s Scientific Director. No fees will be refunded in this case. SHE’s Scientific Director can also decide to end supervision and terminate the PhD programme if progress or the quality of the work does not meet the requirements or for other reasons not specified. If participation in the PhD programme is terminated before the thesis is ready to be defended, no fees will be refunded.