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 PhD programmes) and professional development (general courses) at the Graduate School of Life Sciences. The broad variety of thematic courses, seminars, masterclasses, symposia, general courses and career services on offer results in highly qualified PhDs, well prepared for a career inside or outside academia.

Thesis requirements

During a (regularly) 4-year programme, PhD candidates conduct a research project, resulting in a doctoral thesis and/or a series of articles in peer reviewed scientific journals. Once the thesis is completed, the supervisor determines whether or not it is ready for submission and defence. A reading committee is appointed for approval of the thesis and to question the candidate during an oral defence. All rules and regulations regarding the PhD track and doctoral thesis are defined in the Doctoral Degree Regulations of Utrecht University. In short:

  • 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 the 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

Within three months after the start of the PhD track PhD candidates are required to register themselves in MyPhD, the University's registration system for PhD tracks. Information regarding this registration can be found on the PhD webpage of Utrecht University.

Admission to the Graduate School of Life Sciences

Via MyPhD you are also 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)supervisor, the PhD 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]

Overview PhD programmes

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

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

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