How to apply for a PhD position

Applying for a PhD position

A) Regular applications
The regular way to become a PhD student of The Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS) is to apply for a vacant position on a PhD student's project at one of the research groups affiliated to EPS (check EPS-NEWS for vacancies). Available PhD vacancies are also posted on AcademicTransfer.

B) Open applications (no deadline)
If you wish to become an EPS PhD student but currently there are no vacant positions in your research field, you should provide for your own project funding by obtaining a governmental grant, scholarship or fellowship in your own country or by private funding. Funding is needed for 1) University fee, 2) Departmental fee (research fee), 3) Cost of living while residing in the Netherlands and 4) Visa & residence permits. Websites providing information about fellowships and grants can be found on the following internal link.

Besides project funding you must succesfully have followed an academic training equivalent to MSc level; you will also need fluency (written and oral) in English. Since EPS is a collaborative research and teaching institution of 6 Dutch Universities, it is good to mention here that all participating Universities may have slightly different entry requirements for their PhD programmes. As an example, you may read the part "Application (How to apply for a PhD position at Wageningen University)", see PhD Programme Wageningen University.

If you meet the general requirements (e.g. an academic training equivalent to MSc level and proficiency in English), you should provide the EPS secretariat with the information listed below. Please forward all documents, as pdf files (preferred) or combined together as a Zip file to the contact e-mail adres of EPS, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Please note: Incomplete PhD applications will not be handled!

PhD application: required documentation

1. Letter motivating the application
2. Preliminary research proposal (about two A4), that should include
  • a problem definition
  • research questions
  • the proposed methodology, linked to the research questions
  • up-to-date literature references.
3. Detailed Curriculum Vitae, including information on the applicant's
  • education
  • research experience
  • list of publications
4. Proficiency in the English language. Non-Dutch PhD candidates from non-Anglophone countries are required to submit an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language ( TOEFL or Cambridge, IELTS). This certificate is not a requirement for PhD candidates who have completed their higher education with English as the language of instruction. Requirements: -TOEFL internet-based 90, with minimum sub-score 20 for speaking, or -IELTS 6.5, with minimum sub-score 6.0 for speaking, or - A Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) minimum grade C, or -A Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) any grade, or - RATEr test at Wageningen University, with all elements passed. Test results must be dated within 24 months prior to an application to the PhD Programme.
5. Digital copy of diploma's of higher education (BSc and MSc), including transcripts of academic records 
  • Minimum requirement: equivalent of a Masters degree
  • Also include transcripts of academic records
  • If not in English, Dutch, French, German, Spanish or Afrikaans, an additional official translation is required.
6. References from at least two supervisors/professors, with information regarding the applicant's performance on the Masters programme and the applicant's prospects for finishing a PhD in the area of application.
7. Digital copy of your (valid) passport.

8. Detailed information on funding. The possibilities for PhD students to acquire funding from the Graduate School are very limited, so applicants who arrange their own funding have much better chances of being accepted as a PhD student. Graduate Schools will not assist in finding funding sources. Three components of funding should be distinguished:

  • Travelling and living expenses
  • University fee (amount depending on local University regulations)
  • Research fee (departmental & bench fees), depending on kind of research proposed and research group involved.
    The Graduate School wishes to know exactly what will be funded in order to get insight into additional funding needed.

PhD application: evaluation process

Once ALL above mentioned documents have been received by the Graduate School and the documents meet the stipulated requirements, EPS will forward your preliminary proposal to a prospective supervisor for further evaluation. Evaluation criteria are:

  • the applicant's education (at least at MSc level)
  • the experience of the applicant as an independent researcher
  • the publications already written by the applicant
  • the scientific quality of the preliminary proposal
  • the originality of the preliminary proposal
  • the strategic fitting of the applicant's research topic into the research programme of the Graduate School, in the area of interest of the supervisor and in the research field of supervisor's research group
  • the capacity and expertise that the Graduate School and research group have available
  • the applicant's fluency in English
  • the available funding
  • for Sandwich PhD students: the CV of the supervisor in the home country.
Once the evaluation will be positive the intended supervisor will contact the applicant for a detailed proposal. The PhD applicant cannot proceed further until the research proposal has been approved by the supervisor. In case the evaluation will be negative the EPS office will inform the applicant. As The Graduate School receives many PhD applications and research proposals, this evaluation process may take several weeks.

Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences