Portal for

    The Three Doctoral Schools

    In order to plan the PhD programme and provide support for doctoral students, VUB's faculties are organised into Doctoral Schools.

    Role of the Doctoral Schools

    VUB's three Doctoral Schools consist of several faculties which join forces to organise the Doctoral Training Programme. The Doctoral Schools provide support for PhD students, stimulate the quality of doctoral research and help promote junior researchers.

    • Students who have enrolled for a PhD programme are automatically sorted into a Doctoral School. This does not require any additional paperwork or fees.

    Each Doctoral School is headed by a Director responsible for the day-to-day management of their Doctoral School. The Director consults with the Doctoral School Council and the other Directors in order to determine Doctoral Training Programme policy and content.

    • You can find the contact details of each Doctoral School Director on this page.

    Doctoral Schools and the Training Programme

    The Doctoral Schools organise the Doctoral Training Programme, which contains all the activities and research that a student partakes in during their PhD.

    As soon as you enrol as a PhD student and become a member of a Doctoral School, you may participate in any activities in the Doctoral Training Programme: workshops, seminars, summer schools, master classes and many more.

    Additionally, VUB's cooperation agreements allow our doctoral students to join courses and activities in any of our partner institutions, free of charge!

    The Doctoral Training Programme

    VUB supports a flexible PhD programme. PhD students are mostly free to decide what activities to partake in, but there are some structural requirements.

    Which activities are mandatory?

    Every PhD trajectory is highly specialised and requires specific abilities. As a PhD researcher at the VUB, you decide for yourself what skills you need and how you should acquire them. Research done outside of the university is also acknowledged by the Doctoral Schools.

    In principle, all the activities in the Doctoral Training Programme are completely optional, meaning students are free to draw their own PhD trajectory from scratch. However, there are two critical exceptions in which participation is deemed mandatory:

    1. As of academic year 2017-2018, the first day of the introduction days for new PhD candidates is compulsory. It includes necessary information about which services to contact, how the doctoral schools operate, what is good scientific conduct and what not, etc. Students have to present proof of attendance during their annual progress reports.
    2. Individual faculties may decide to make the doctoral training programme or parts of it compulsory, based on what they consider to be an important factor in the prospective PhD student’s personal file.

    Structure

    A complete PhD programme yields at least 60 ECTS credits and consists of 2 clusters:

    I. Training and research activities: at least 30 credits. There are no minimum and maximum credit requirements per type of activity. Students may choose any amount of activities of any type.

    1. Regular course units from Bachelor’s, Master’s or Advanced Master’s Programmes from the VUB or other institutions.
      • VUB courses are free of charge unless they belong to a programme with increased tuition fees.
    2. Specialised course units organised by a Doctoral School of the VUB or other institutions.
    3. Doctoral Seminars (e.g. transferable skills workshops, master classes,...).
    4. Research related activities (e.g. publications, public engagement...).
    5. Educational activities.

    II. Successfully writing and defending a PhD thesis: 30 credits.

      Stages of a PhD

      Certain activities are aimed at a specific stage in your PhD research and will mention their target audience in their description. Depending on the progress of the PhD research, doctoral students are classified as follows:

       I. Starting doctoral researchers and candidates: 0-6 months

       II. Junior doctoral researchers: 6-24 months

       III. Advanced doctoral researchers: 24 months – year of defence

       IV. Senior doctoral researchers: Year of defence

       V. Postdoctoral researchers: After a positive defence

      VUB training and research activities


      The Central PhD Office regularly organises workshops and events dedicated to improving research practices at the university.

      Choosing your activities

      PhD activities can be announced any time during the academic year, so check the event schedule regularly. Doctoral students may also join regular course units.

      Doctoral seminars and research activities

      When it comes to doctoral seminars, meetings and events, there is no universal method of registration. The registration procedures will be stated in the announcement of the activity. Please follow the registration procedures as the organiser communicates them.

      For PhD activities organised by the VUB, the following registration rules apply:

      • Registration is mandatory. Students can be asked to leave if they don't have a valid registration.
      • Registrations close 2 weeks prior to the start of the activity. After the closing date, participants will be notified by e-mail of their acceptance or their placement on a waiting list.
      • Registration must be done online, through the registration form which is linked on each activity's page.
      • Registration rules for activities organised by the Doctoral Schools can differ from the registration rules of the Central PhD Office. These rules are stated in the description of the activity.

      Only register for activities you are certain you can attend. A no-show policy has recently taken effect, and you will be penalised for not attending events you have registered for.

      In case you have registered but are not able to participate, please notify us by sending an e-mail to doctoral.schools@vub.be and we will offer your place to one of the other students on the waiting list.

      Bachelor and Master course units

      PhD students can follow regular Bachelor or Master course units organised by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel free of charge, without being subjected to any prerequisites mentioned in the course description. Additional costs may arise only for course units from a programme with increased tuition fees.

      In order to register for regular course units at the VUB:

      1. Download and print the Registration form for regular courses.
      2. Complete it and get it signed by your supervisor and the Professor teaching the concerned course.
      3. Send the completed and signed form to the Central PhD Office.

      Any students applying for VUB course units must respect the registration deadline.

      • For the first semester, the deadline for regular course unit registration is usually set to mid-October.
      • For the second semester, registration starts at the beginning of January and lasts until the end of February. You can find the exact deadlines at the top of the registration form.

      With the approval of your supervisor, it is also possible to follow regular courses organised by other institutions. In this case, you should follow the registration procedure of the organising institution.

      Priority rules for PhD activities

      VUB's Doctoral Training Programme activities are primarily aimed at members of the VUB Doctoral Schools and PhD students from other Flemish universities. Other candidates may participate should there be places available, but may be charged a fee.

      In order to ensure that the target groups of these events are guaranteed access, PhD activities organised at the VUB follow some priority rules. From highest to lowest, the participants' priorities are as follows:

      1. Doctoral School members for which participation is mandatory.
      2. Members of the organising Doctoral Schools.
      3. Members of other Doctoral Schools at the VUB and PhD students from Flemish universities.
      4. ULB PhD students.
      5. VUB post-docs and other students, PhD students of other universities, researchers from other institutions and any other people interested.

      Penalties for unmotivated absences

      Students who register for activities but do not attend them will lose access to future events and Doctoral School funding.

      No-show policy for PhD events

      Discover your new limits

      VUB has partnered with other Flemish universities to make courses and activities easily accessible to their PhD students.

      Flemish universities

      VUB's Doctoral Training Programme is organised in close cooperation with the universities of Flanders. PhD students enrolled at the VUB can participate in any courses and activities that are organised by Flemish universities, and vice-versa.

      PhD students of Flemish unversities can participate in most activities and course units of any partner institution for free. Exceptions are made for courses with tuition fees that are higher than normal.

      In order to participate in course units and PhD activities at one of our partner institutions, VUB students have to follow the registration procedures of the host university. Generally, you can expect to do the following:

      1. register as a guest student at the target university.
      2. carefully follow the registration and participation rules set up by the course titular or the event organiser.

      Incoming PhD students

      PhD students from our partner institutions are welcome to participate at our PhD events/seminars. In order to do so, please contact the Central PhD Office.

      If you want to participate in one of our course units instead, there are two steps you must take:

      1. Register as a guest student at the VUB. You can do this by filling in our online form for guest students.
      2. Once your registration as a guest student is confirmed, you can register for the course unit with the Registration form for regular courses.

      Upcoming PhD events


      Our seminars and activities are dedicated to creating better research and better researchers.

      Results and credits

      As a PhD student, your study path is more diverse than before. Workshops, lectures and similar activities will contribute to your education in different ways.

      Regular course units

      For regular courses in bachelor, master or master after master programs, the number of ECTS credits applies just the same for PhD students too. For new course units organised by the Doctoral Schools, the Director will determine the number of credits.

      The manner of evaluation for regular course units is determined by the course titular. The evaluation can consist of a written or an oral exam, a portfolio, a project, a paper, an internship, etc...

      For courses organised by the Doctoral Schools, the evaluation method is stated in the announcement of the activity.

      Doctoral Seminars

      The number of potential credits gained per seminar is determined by the Director of the organising Doctoral School and by the Central PhD Office.

      You will find the number of rewarded credits in the event's description page. Not all events generate credits, and some only award them for participants who have prepared projects or have actively contributed to the discussions. Ultimately, it is the teacher of the seminar who will evaluate and reward students, so be sure to read about the event carefully.

      The number of awarded credits depends on the time and effort invested to obtain them. One credit is, more or less, the equivalent of 24 hours of study. Since seminars are usually one-time events which require a limited preparation time, they tend to generate 1-2 ECTS each.

      Research activities

      Research activities range from teaching, helping with scientific work and presentations to patenting products, scientific awards and authoring peer-reviewed articles.

      Individual research activities are recognized and rewarded by the Doctoral Schools. To help correlate the effort required for an activity to a number of rewarded credits, VUB's Doctoral Schools have agreed on a standard of evaluation in the form of a credit table.

      The credit table is annexed to the Credit Validation Form which is used when applying for a Certificate or Attestation.

      Certificates and attestations

      A Certificate or Attestation will validate the efforts you made during your PhD research. It's important to know about the restrictions involving these documents.

      A mutually exclusive duo

      PhD students who have obtained at least 30 credits and who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis can obtain the Doctoral Training Programme Certificate (Getuigschrift van de Doctoraatsopleiding) in addition to the doctoral diploma.

      Doctoral students who did not obtain 30 credits and/or have not successfully defended their doctoral thesis may apply for an official document, an Attestation (Attest van gevolgde activiteiten) listing the activities attended as part of the Doctoral Training Programme.

      PhD students may only request a Certificate or Attestation once, at the end of their PhD trajectory. The Certificate and the Attestation are also mutually exclusive: it is not possible for a student to obtain both of them.

      Applying for the Certificate/Attestation

      To request a Certificate or an Attestation, e-mail a completed Application Form for the Certificate/Attestation to doctoral.schools@vub.be.

      • Please file all relevant research activities and attach an export file of PURE for research related activities (publications and conferences). Make sure to attach all relevant proof and keep your credit suggestions reasonable.
      • It is allowed to add activities of previous years if you can provide correct information and proof, if you supervisor acknowledges their relevance to your research and if these activities (only in case of regular course units) were followed during your PhD.

      The application can be submitted until the 15th of December of the calendar year in which your last registration as a PhD student ends. For example, if your last registration is for the year 2016-17, you can submit your application for the Certificate or the Attestation until the 15th of December 2017.

      The application method described above will change with a future update of the PhD e-portfolio. Students will have to access their portfolio and make an online request instead of submitting a form. You will be notified of this change some time before it is implemented.

      Keeping track of progress

      The PhD e-portfolio offers an overview of all the educational and research activities that a VUB doctoral student has participated in.

      Access your e-portfolio


      Log in using your VUB account to get an overview of all your past and present PhD activity!

      A PhD student's report card

      The PhD portfolio is a personal online documentation system which allows the PhD student to gather data on the research they have done so far and present it as proof in the annual progress report. It can also be used to record any personal achievements in research or to ultimately create a dossier of the which may be used in presentations for future employers.

        The PhD e-portfolio contains any activities that contribute to a student's PhD programme:

        1. Regular course units (bachelor, master, advanced master, post graduate ...)
        2. Doctoral seminars and workshops (both internal and external)
        3. Research activities (publications, conferences, awards, patents...)
        4. Educational activities
        5. Defence of the doctoral thesis

        At the end of their doctoral programme, PhD Students will be able to apply for the Certificate of the Doctoral Training Programme or an Attestation of the followed activities through the PhD Portfolio.

        What's inside your portfolio?

        Regular Course Units

        When you register for a regular course unit from a VUB programme (Bachelor, Master, MaNaMa-programme…), the course will automatically appear into your portfolio. The evaluation of that course will afterwards be processed by the Central PhD Office. If you followed the course successfully, and your supervisor approves of the activity, the credits will be attributed to your Doctoral Training Programme.

        Regular course units from other universities or institutions can be taken into account as well. First, you will have to add the activity and proof to the portfolio yourself. Your supervisor and the director of your doctoral school will validate the activity, and the status of the course unit will be shown in your portfolio. 

        Doctoral seminars

        After registering and participating in a doctoral seminar or workshop organised by VUB's Central PhD Office, the activity will be added automatically to your portfolio. Your supervisor will be invited to validate the activity, and the portfolio will display its current status.

        Doctoral seminars and workshops that are organised by other institutions or universities need to be added by the PhD student, along with proof of participation. Your supervisor and the director of your doctoral school will be invited to validate the activity, and you will be able to view their decisions in your portfolio.

        If you wish to have proof of your participation in a doctoral seminar for your own personal administration, you can use the Proof of Participation form.

        Research activities

        Research related activities must be entered into the PURE database (previously known as R&D-Net). The e-portfolio does not account for research activities for now, but there are plans to link it to the PURE database soon. When this happens, research activities registered on PURE will be automatically transfered to your portfolio.

        PURE is the unique integrated research database of the VUB, where all meta-data concerning research is stored. Researchers associated with the university can access and edit their academic profile on the PURE website.

        Logging on to the PURE website requires a registration as a VUB member of personnel. You can contact the Human Resources department to grant you the necessary access.

        For all other internal or external activities (summer schools, doctoral seminars, ...) you will be asked to add further proof.

        Help and support

        Manuals

        Hand-outs

        For further questions concerning the Doctoral Training Programme, the use of the PhD Portfolio or incorrect information in your portfolio, contact doctoral.schools@vub.be.

        If you don’t have access to the PhD Portfolio, it’s most likely that your registration is not complete. In that case you should contact your Faculty Secretariat.