PhD education

Getting your PhD is more than just conducting a research project. It is also a time during which you are expected to develop, improve, and refine your academic and transferable skills. A guideline for this is the PhD Competence Model, in essence a self-assessment tool, that outlines a set of core competencies every PhD candidate should develop during their PhD.  

Your individual training programme has to include the compulsory* training in Responsible Conduct of Research as well as in teaching (if you have teaching tasks) but further strongly depends on your individual training needs. Training in discipline-relevant research skills or knowledge is generally offered within the research institutes or (inter-)national research schools. Discipline-overarching training is offered by the GSNS (see below) or UU-wide through the Development guide. You may also find suitable training elsewhere. 

Please be aware that courses may involve a registration fee - talk to your supervisors about the available budget. 

Training and Supervision Agreement (TSA), training registration & progress monitoring

It is important to regularly discuss your educational needs with your supervisors.

  • At the start of your PhD trajectory you fill in the Training and Supervision Agreement (TSA) together with your supervisors and subsequently upload it to MyPhD under the TSA-tab.
  • After you have completed a training or course register them - together with the certificates - under the Portfolio-tab in MyPhD.
  • Discuss your progress during your annual Assessment and Development interviews (employees) or PhD progress meetings (non-employees) with your supervisor(s) and in meetings with your mentor. You may utilize the PhD Competence Model for these discussions as well. 

ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) are in essence a unit of time that is used and standardized throughout higher education in Europe, with 1 ECTS = 28 hours and 1.5 ECTS = 1 week
This means that if a given course or training does not state how many ECTS it provides you with, you can calculate the number of credits depending on the time investment it asks and record it accordingly in MyPhD. 

Please keep in mind that at the GSNS we do not calculate with less than 0.25ECTS so please round up. 

Cancellation & No-show policy

Most courses offered by GSNS are free of charge, which does not mean free of responsibility: Once you have signed up for a course or training, you are expected to attend. We are handling the following cancellation and no-show policy:

  • Cancellation of the course registration is possible up to the registration deadline (usually 2 weeks before the course; 3 weeks for COSKA & ARTESC courses). After this date you can only cancel if you have a GSNS PhD candidate to replace you in the course. Send the name and contact information of your replacement to, at least 2 working days before the start of the course.
  • We expect you to actively attend the full course.
  • Not meeting the requirements above means that you will be charged a no-show fee: €50 for every course <1 day; €200 for courses >1 day. An invoice will be sent to you after the course has ended.
  • Exceptions to this policy will only be made for valid reasons (i.e., illness or death in the family 1st/2nd degree or partner), communicated by e-mail to

Download this policy as PDF here.

GSNS Training certificate & requirements

Toward the end of the PhD, you can request a GSNS Training Certificate if your training portfolio registered in MyPhD meets the requirements outlined below.

In addition to your PhD Diploma, the Training Certificate demonstrates that you have actively participated in doctoral education and developed your personal competencies during your PhD. It also serves as transcript of the training that you have taken while pursuing your PhD.
To obtain a GSNS PhD Training Certificate, the PhD candidate should have done a minimum of 5 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System; 1 credit = 28 hours and 1.5 credits = 1 week) for each fulltime equivalent year of research appointment. A minimum of 20% of the total credits is spend on transferrable skill training.

Please request your Training Certificate at least 8 weeks before your PhD defence through this form.

*compulsory for PhDs that started on or after Sep. 1st 2021.

GSNS PhD Courses

Compulsory training - Responsible Conduct of Research

Compulsory for all PhDs that started on or after September 1st 2021

The GSNS organizes the Responsible Conduct of Research training, which consists of multiple modules, spread across the full PhD trajectory and tailored to the different stages of a PhD.
The first session in year 1 is a half-day training whereas in year 2 and year 3 the training consists of two out of three SPOCs (Online course module combined with one or two on-campus meetings). The training is completed in year 4 with another half-day group session. During all these modules you will discuss different aspects of responsible conduct of research and academic integrity, illustrated by a wide variety of cases, and share your experiences with fellow PhD candidates. 

Please note that we currently only offer the training session of year 1 and two SPOCs. Another SPOCs (‘Data in responsible conduct of research’) as well as the year 4 training session will be launched in the academic year 2024/2025.

Training in Teaching

Training in teaching is compulsory for all PhD Candidates with teaching tasks that started on or after September 1st 2021 

The GSNS, Faculty of Science and Utrecht University offer various types of training in teaching (see below). These range from training in supervising (master) students, to basic didactic training for starting lecturers (e.g. Start to Teach from CAT or Teacher Training for PhD Candidates from the Faculty of Science) and - for PhD Candidates with extended teaching tasks - to the training programme of our faculty for the University Teaching Qualification (UTQ training programme; basiskwalificatie onderwijs (BKO) leergang). 

Depending on your teaching tasks, teaching load and ambition for university education you might need different (combinations of) training. Discuss the options with your supervisory team and plan accordingly. 

Please note:
(1) If you have the possibility to obtain your UTQ during your PhD, keep in mind that other courses do not provide exemption for the UTQ training programme.
(2) All combinations of training in teaching are possible, though PhD Candidates that aim to obtain their UTQ are advised to follow Start to Teach instead of Teacher Training for PhD Candidates in combination with their UTQ training programme. 

GSNS Electives

UU-wide PhD training

Language courses

Other useful information

If you have any questions or remarks regarding PhD education, please contact the Graduate School of Natural Sciences at

  • How to get a PhD (Phillips and Pugh)
  • The art of Being a Scientist (Snieder and Larner)
  • Klaar in vier jaar (in Dutch) (De Bruin and Hertz)