Regulations and forms

As a PhD candidate or supervisor, several regulations have to be followed and several forms have to be completed in order to start and complete a PhD programme.

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 Doctoral Degree Regulations Utrecht University incorporate a number of statutory provisions conform the Higher Education and Research Act (in Dutch: WHW), as well as a number of conditions laid down by the Board for the Conferral of Doctoral Degrees of Utrecht University. Among other things, the Doctoral Degree Regulations stipulate who will be allowed admission to the doctoral programme, how the supervisors and co-supervisors are appointed, how the theses shall come into being, and how the Assessment Committee shall be composed. With effect from 1 January 2018, in addition to professors, some associate professors (i.e. senior university lecturers, or UHDs in Dutch) in Utrecht can also be appointed as supervisors. For more information, please refer to the Utrecht University regulations on use of ius promovendi for associate professors (pdf) based on VSNU- guidelines.

Letter from the Rector Magnificus with procedures pertaining to the doctoral degree studies (pdf).


Utrecht University provides the opportunity to obtain a joint doctorate in collaboration with one or more international universities. The Board for the Conferral of Doctoral Degrees of Utrecht University must be asked to grant permission to pursue a joint doctorate a considerable time in advance. There are special regulations for obtaining a joint doctorate (pdf). The regulations stipulate the procedure for obtaining permission to pursue a joint doctorate at Utrecht University and the conditions the joint doctorate will have to meet.

Utrecht University is a member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). The LERU is an association of large, like-minded European research-intensive universities. Within the context of the LERU a number of templates for joint doctorates have been developed:  

Registration prior to starting a PhD programme

As soon as possible, and the latest within three months after the start of a research/appointment, a Training and Supervision Agreement has to be drawn up, a plan of study has to be made, and the candidate must be registered properly.


Prior to the beginning of the work, the PhD candidate will draw up a formal, written agreement. The agreement will outline the rights and obligations and the objectives of the research project. Within most Graduate Schools, the agreement includes an individualised plan of study, which must be formally approved. The Graduate School or faculty determines who should sign the agreement. Their names will be mentioned in the agreement. The right form for the Training and Supervision Agreement is provided by the PhD Office of the  Graduate School within which the PhD programme will be followed.


The plan of study typically includes courses, such as language or methodology courses, that are designed to further improve the research and presentation skills of the PhD candidate; it may also include conferences and seminars in the candidate's field of study. The candidate will also agree upon regular meetings with the supervisors to discuss progress, expectations and future work.


Before commencing a doctoral Programme, the PhD candidate and supervisors must register properly.
The web page Arrangements before starting a PhD programme explains how to register.

Required actions to complete a PhD programme

A PhD programme is completed by a doctoral thesis defence ceremony. To be able to have this ceremony, several arrangements have to be made throughout the PhD programme.
All the required actions are listed on the web page Requirements to complete a PhD programme.

Doctoral thesis defence ceremony

During the doctoral thesis defence ceremony, the PhD candidates will receive a degree certificate written in Latin, an English translation, as well as a valid English explanation of the doctoral degree. They will receive only one original degree certificate. For more information, please read the Instructions to the PhD candidate (pdf), article 27.

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'.