PhD programme

Information about the PhD degree and the general structure of the PhD programmes.

PhD degree

The highest degree awarded in the Netherlands is the doctorate (PhD degree). A full-time PhD programme takes 4 years; a part-time programme (4 days a week) takes f5 years. PhD candidates in the Netherlands are usually not considered to be students who study within a framework of a well defined and structured PhD programme. Instead, their programme is tailor made.


Earning a PhD at Leiden can be done through either an academic treatise on a certain subject in book form or a collection of different academic treatises that have already been made public, or a combination of the 2 if there is enough of a connection regarding the content. The doctoral dissertation may be written in Dutch, English, French, German, or, subject to approval, in another language. It is also possible for t2 or 3 PhD candidates to do research together under certain conditions. A joint degree is, however, not possible.

There are 3 types of PhD positions:

  • Funded positions
  • Position based on self-obtained research grants 
  • External doctoral candidates

Structure of PhD programme

The PhD programme generally consists of 3 components:

  • Research, supervision and writing a dissertation (75%)
  • Coursework (max. 25% or 60 ects)
  • Teaching (optional, max. 15%)

The coursework for PhD candidates may contain the following components:    

  • General courses
  • Professional courses: PhD candidates take relevant research master’s courses and attend colloquia and seminars offered by the research schools or Graduate School.
  • (Research) skills training: Academic Presentation, Writing, Academic English, Teaching Skills, Research Management, Writing Grant Proposals, Carreer's Advice.

Obtaining a PhD degree

The University has PhD regulations. It is important to be aware of the contents of these regulations from the outset of the PhD programme. More detailed information about PhD regulations is available if you need it. Apart from the PhD regulations, Leiden University also employs a set of guidelines

Also, all PhD candidates must be registered with the Graduate School.

The steps in the formal procedure leading to the public defence of the dissertation written under the supervision of a supervisor of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences are accompanied by the following documents: