These pages contain information on practical matters you need to arrange before and during your doctoral research and explains how to go about your your PhD defense.


Read more about the regulations for obtaining a PhD at Maastricht University   

Also read more about PhD's at Maastricht University.

Guide to the public defence of your thesis

The degree ceremony means the public defense of your thesis. To help you prepare for it we provide you with the information below. You find the a step by step guide, answers to to most frequently asked questions, an agenda with upcoming online defenses and contact information.

A PhD Defence ceremony

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’. The ceremony begins with the gathering of the degree committee members headed by the pro-rector. The pro-rector chairs the ceremony and ensures that protocol is followed.

The defence side consists of the candidate’s supervisor and co-supervisor. They are there for the PhD candidate, having supervised his or her work and approved their request for an official PhD Defence. On the other side of the committee are experts in the candidate’s field of research. It is their job to act as sceptics, asking the candidate questions and judging his or her readiness to be awarded a PhD.

The ceremony itself is structured as follows. The candidate gives a 15-minute presentation, after which the opposition has 45 minutes to question the candidate. Afterwards the degree committee members withdraw for a confidential assessment of the Defence.

phd defence

Upcoming PhD defenses

Selected past PhD defenses

Previous PhD defences

How to apply for your PhD defense

  1. Send request for admission

    Step 1

    For a start formally request admission for your doctoral degree ceremony at Maastricht University. To begin this process download the model letter I below, fill it out and send it per email to the PhD office (contact details at the end of this webpage). If you did not obtain a masters degree from a Dutch university also fill out model letter II and attache it to the same email. To sign please add a digital signature to the document. This can be accomplished easiest by scanning in your signature and embedding it into the word document. Please make sure you signed with a coloured (blue) pen.

    Additional document requirements:

    • Send the documents as Word or PDF files
    • Copies of diplomas or exemption
    • Copy of the Scientific Integrity Requirement

    What happens after you finished step 1:
    The information will be checked by the Board of Deans and the response will be send to you per email. In consultation with your supervisor the Board of Deans will form and inform the assessment committee. Once you received the confirmation please follow step 2.

  2. Send your thesis to the Assessment committee

    Step 2

    Upon approval the assessment committee members will await your thesis. Their names and contact information are provided to you in step 1. In step 2 you submit your dissertation as PDF per email to the assessment committee members.

    What happens after you finished step 2:
    After consultation with all members of the assessment committee, he chairman of that committee will inform the Phd office and your supervisor whether you are admitted to the defence of the submitted dissertation or not. You will be informed by your supervisor about the statement of the assessment committee. Once you received the information please follow to step 3.


  3. Request possible date/time slots

    Step 3

    Once the assessment committee has accepted your dissertation you may call the PhD office. They will provide you with two possible dates and time slots for your upcoming public Phd defence.

    What happens after you finished step 3:
    You need to check the availability of your supervisor, co-supervisor (and the assessment committee members) and together decide for one of the two possible options. Afterwards you inform the PhD office either by phone or email about your choice and proceed to step 4.

    You need minimal 3 members of the assessment committee including the chair to be present

  4. Submit title and reverse title page

    Step 4

    In this step you are asked to submit the title and reverse title page (see model letter 5a and 5b) as .doc file to the PhD office.

    What happens after you finished step 4:
    The PhD office checks all the information again and submits an official confirmation of the date, time and title of your public defence. Additionally your supervisor is asked the Order of Opposition form. Since the pandemic we do online phd defences. 

  5. Schedule a test session

    Step 5

    After you received the confirmation you are free to plan in a test session either on location or online. To do so please contact the PhD office per email or phone. This should help you to get better acquainted with the technicalities and ins and outs during the event. If you have any questions please consult first the FAQ section below.


General documents

PhD ceremony allowance (UM Intranet)
'It takes two to tango' - Investigation of supervision of PhD students in the Netherlands.
Overview of PhD programmes
Research Data Management portal



Admission process public PhD defence

Thesis assessment form
Declaration of scientific integrity
Model letter 1
Model letter 2
Model letter 3
Model letter 4
Model letter 5a & 5b
Model letter 6
Model letter 7

  Doctoral Regulations 2022
  Doctoral Regulations 2023

* Doctoral Candidates that start from February 1 onwards fall under the new regulations. Doctoral Candidates that started before February 1 may fall under the old regulations until 1 August , unless they wish to apply the new regulations.


Academic Ceremonies

T 043-3883096 or T 043-3882551

Working days: You can reach us from Monday till Friday between 09.00-17.30 hrs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • In what format do I need to prepare my powerpoint presentation?
  • Can I reserve a parking slot on location?
  • Do I need to put my presentation on a USB stick?
  • How many people can I bring to my public Phd defense?

Some of the services available to you may depend on whether:

If you are unsure of whether or not you are considered an employee, please see the descriptions on the PhD overview page or contact your supervisor.