Regulations and registration

PhD candidates are required to register in the university-wide PhD-candidate tracking system MyPhD before a PhD track can start. Throughout the track, supplements can be entered into the system. Near the end of the PhD track, the first supervisor is required to register further steps in MyPhD for the progress and completion of the track and the PhD Ceremony.

Regulations before and during the PhD programme

Before starting and while working on a PhD programme, the PhD candidates and their supervisors must make sure that the Doctoral Degree Regulations (pdf) are observed.

The PhD Regulations of Utrecht University include a number of legal stipulations as they have been codified in the Dutch Higher Education and Research Act (Dutch name: Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek, WHW), as well as a number of conditions that have been set by the Utrecht University Board for the Conferral of Doctoral Degrees.

The PhD Regulations stipulate, among other things, who has access to the PhD Defence, how the First Supervisors and Secondary Supervisors are appointed, how the doctoral thesis is required to come about and how the Assessment Committee is to be assembled. As of 1 January 2018, some Associate Professors (i.e. senior university lecturers, or UHD's in Dutch) can also be appointed as Supervisors. The conditions (doc) are based on the VSNU guidelines (pdf).

Please also read the letter by the Rector Magnificus (pdf) on procedures regarding the obtaining of a PhD.


Utrecht University offers a special arrangement for joint doctorates. It is possible to set up a joint doctorate in collaboration with one or more foreign universities. Such a joint doctorate requires permission from the Board for the Conferral of Doctoral Degrees, applied for well ahead of time.

The regulations for obtaining a joint doctorate (pdf) stipulate how to request permission for a joint doctorate within Utrecht University and which requirements the joint doctorate has to meet.

League of European Research Universities (LERU)

Utrecht University is a member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). The LERU has spoken out about the added value of joint doctorates:

Registration prior to starting a PhD programme

Registering within MyPhD is required to be done as soon as possible, but within three months after the start of the research/appointment. The PhD-candidate tracking system of the university also includes aspects regarding a Training and Supervision Agreement. Some faculties have chosen to keep the Training and Supervision Agreement (TSA) separate from the MyPhD system. PhD candidates from these faculties will be provided information before the start of the research/appointment by the Graduate School in question.


The Training and Supervision Agreement provides an overview of rights and duties of the PhD candidates and the goals of the research project, and shows an individual course programme that needs to be formally approved by most of the Graduate Schools. The approval is digitally recorded in MyPhD. The list of faculties that still use separate (paper) TSA agreements includes a list of employees who need to ratify the agreement by means of their signatures.


The individual course programme is part of the Training and Supervision Agreement and describes the degree-programme part of the PhD Defence, such as methodology courses that improve the PhD candidate's research skills and presentation skills. The individual course programme can also include conferences and congresses. The PhD candidate is also required to include progress meetings with their supervisor or supervisors in their individual course programme. It is possible for faculties that use the TSA provisions of MyPhD to add courses and other matters to the file throughout the PhD track, including the uploading of matters such as degrees. Progress meetings can also be included in MyPhD.


Before a PhD track can start, the PhD candidate and the supervisor or supervisors need to be registered correctly.
The web page Registration instructions for PhD candidates and supervisors explains how to do that.

Required actions to complete a PhD programme

A PhD track is completed with a PhD Ceremony. During the ceremony, the PhD candidate defends the doctoral thesis before a PhD Commission. In order to be eligible for the ceremony, the PhD candidate and supervisor or supervisors are required to meet several requirements throughout the PhD track.
All these required actions can be found on the web page Requirements to complete a PhD programme.

Doctoral thesis defence ceremony

During the doctoral thesis defence ceremony, the PhD candidate will receive a degree certificate written in Latin, an English translation and a legally valid English explanation of the doctoral degree. The PhD candidate will receive only one original copy of the degree certificate.

For more information about the pledge, see Appendix E (pdf): 'Text spoken during the doctoral thesis defence ceremony' and Appendix E1 (pdf): 'Frequently asked questions about the doctoral candidate pledge'.