Start your PhD

During the PhD track PhD candidates conduct a research project resulting in a PhD thesis and a series of articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. PhD candidates are supervised by a professor ('promotor') and a co-supervisor ('copromotor').

Furthermore, PhD candidates receive training in thematic research areas (the programmes) and professional development (general courses) at the Graduate School of Life Sciences. The broad variety of general courses, thematic courses, external courses and other activities offered results in highly qualified and well-trained PhDs.

Thesis requirements

During a (regularly) 4-year programme, PhD candidates conduct a research project, resulting in a PhD thesis and/ or a series of articles in scientific journals. PhD candidates work under the supervision of a professor (‘promotor’) and a co-supervisor (‘copromotor’). During the PhD track PhD candidates take courses provided by the Graduate School of Life Sciences, resulting in highly qualified and well-trained PhDs.

A PhD project at Utrecht University always concludes with the writing of a thesis, or dissertation. Once the thesis is complete, your supervisor determines whether or not it is ready for submission and defence. A committee of professors is appointed to read and approve the thesis and to question the candidate during an oral defence.

  • The PhD candidate is responsible for ensuring that the research that will serve as the basis for the doctoral thesis shall fulfil the following conditions: 
  • The PhD candidate makes an original contribution to academic research of a quality which stands up to peer review at the level usual in the Netherlands; 
  • The PhD candidate has demonstrated their ability to independently apply the academic methods used in the discipline concerned for developing, interpreting and putting into practice new knowledge; 
  • The PhD candidate has acquired and worked with a substantial body of knowledge which, at the very least, embraces the principles and methods of international academic practice and of theorisation, methodology and study in the discipline concerned; 
  • The PhD candidate possesses the ability to design and implement a substantial project for the purpose of developing new knowledge; 
  • The PhD candidate is able to pass on knowledge and methods pertaining to their discipline or specialism in an effective way; 
  • The PhD candidate is able to exercise social responsibility in the conducting, applying and making use of their own research. 
  • The research is conducted in compliance with legal and university regulations. 

All rules and regulations regarding the PhD trajectory and doctoral thesis are available in the Doctoral Degree Regulations (PDF).

Admission to the PhD track of Utrecht University

At the start of the PhD track PhD candidates are required to register themselves in MyPhD (from January 2019), the University's registration system for PhD tracks. Information regarding this registration can be found on the PhD webpage of Utrecht University

Please note: The registration in MyPhD has to be completed within 3 months after starting your PhD. Courses from the PhD Course Centre can only be attended after registration in MyPhD.

Admission to the Graduate School of Life Sciences

Via MyPhD (from January 2019) you are able to register yourself to the Graduate School of Life Sciences. This is one of the fields to be filled out in the registration form.

Within MyPhD you may also select a PhD programme of the Graduate School of Life Sciences (see menu below). You are able to choose, together with your (co)promotor, the programme that fits your research project or interest best. The coordinator of the specific PhD programme will contact you and provide the necessary information to follow the programme during the next years.

If the research topic of a PhD candidate does not fit any of the PhD programmes, the candidate should contact the coordinator of doctoral education at gs.lifesciences [at] uu.nl.

Overview PhD programmes

The PhD programmes of the Graduate School of Life Sciences offer a variety of topics, including:

  • Biomembranes
  • Cancer, Stem Cells and Developmental Biology
  • Cardiovascular Research
  • Clinical and Experimental Neuroscience
  • Clinical and Translational Oncology
  • Computational Life Sciences
  • Drug Innovation
  • Environmental Biology
  • Epidemiology
  • Infection and Immunity
  • Medical Imaging
  • Molecular Life Sciences
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Toxicology and Environmental Health

For more information about our programmes, please refer to the page PhD programmes of the Graduate School of Life Sciences.