Portal for

    The Three Doctoral Schools

    In order to plan the PhD programme and provide support for doctoral candidates, 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 candidates, stimulate the quality of doctoral research and help promote junior researchers.

    • Candidates 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 candidate partakes in during their PhD.

    As soon as you enrol as a PhD candidate 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 candidates 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 candidates are mostly free to decide what activities to partake in, but there are some structural requirements.

    Compulsory Doctoral Education @ VUB - from 2019-2020


    PhD candidates starting as of academic year 2019-2020 (starting after september 2019) are obliged to follow the doctoral training programme. They have to earn at least 30 credits in total before submitting their doctoral dissertation - 5 credits for each of the following categories: (a) research output (including presentations and conference proceedings), (b) teaching and societal outreach (including supervision of BA/MA thesis), (c) specialist skills training (i.e. following specialist courses, workshops and summer schools, etc.) and (d) transferable skills training (including organization of events and taking part in working groups)


    FWO will make doctoral training a compulsory part for FWO fellows in the near future. VUB does not want to differentiate between FWO and other PhD candidates. Furthermore, the Researcher Training & Development Office and the Doctoral Schools are convinced that competencies earned through the training programme creates an added value for the doctoral candidates’ further career and for the university as a whole.

    What about PhD candidates who started earlier?

    The doctoral training programme is NOT compulsory for those who started BEFORE the start of the 2019-2020 academic year in september 2019. They are automatically exempt and do not need to manually request an exemption like those detailed below.

    Can you be exempt from compulsory doctoral education if you started in 2019-2020 or later?

    Yes. Exemptions apply for the following groups:

    • Joint PhDs who’s main institution is not the VUB
    • Sandwich PhDs who are pursuing ≥50% of their research abroad
    • Candidates working ≥50% in a non-academic research related context e.g. PhD Art, clinical doctors
    • Other (e.g. emeritus , retired persons, …)
      >> Other reasons exempt from compulsory doctoral training : exceptional cases will be looked into and decided by the Doctoral School Steering Committee. Note that every exemption should be requested within 2 years of the start of the doctoral course. For more detail see the doctoral school regulations, art. 18.

      Exemptions should be formalised using the following form, which you should send to RTDO@vub.be For doctoral students newly enrolled and /or for those who missed the deadline, please send your request in order to have it listed in the CALI VUB ICT system.

    Do you want more details?

    Check the slides and credit table for further information on the conditions.

    Urgent questions?

    Please contact RTDO@vub.be for further information

    Which activities are mandatory for PhD candidates who started before 2019-2020?

    Every PhD trajectory is highly specialised and requires specific abilities. As a PhD candidate 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.

    Although most activities in the Doctoral Training Programme are optional, meaning candidates are free to draw their own PhD trajectory from scratch, 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. Candidates have to present proof of attendance in 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 candidate’s personal file.

    Structure for PhD candidates who started before 2019-2020, applicable until academic year 2020-2021

    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. Candidates 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.
    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 candidates 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 Researcher Training & Development 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 candidates 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. Candidates 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 Researcher Training & Development 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 RTDO@vub.be and we will offer your place to one of the other candidates on the waiting list.

      Bachelor and Master course units

      PhD candidates 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 Researcher Training & Development Office.

      Any candidates 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 candidates 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 candidates from Flemish universities.
      4. ULB PhD candidates.
      5. VUB post-docs and other students, PhD candidates 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 candidates.

      Flemish universities

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

      PhD candidates of Flemish universities 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 candidates

      PhD candidates from our partner institutions are welcome to participate at our PhD events/seminars. In order to do so, please contact the Researcher Training & Devlopment 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 candidate, 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 candidates 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 Researcher Training & Development 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 participants, 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 candidates 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 candidates 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 candidates 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

      It is important to keep track of everything in your online PhD e-portfolio. To request a Certificate or an Attestation, candidates will have to access their portfolio and make an online request at the end of their Doctoral Training Programme. 

      Keeping track of progress

      The PhD e-portfolio offers an overview of all the educational and research activities that a VUB doctoral candidate 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! No access yet? --> contact your Faculty Secretariat

      A PhD candidate's report card

      The PhD portfolio is a personal online documentation system which allows the PhD candidate 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 which may be used in presentations for future employers.

        The PhD e-portfolio contains any activities that contribute to a candidate'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 candidates will be able to apply for the Certificate of the Doctoral Training Programme or an Attestation of the followed activities through the PhD Portfolio.” 

        You can find a detailed list of eligible activities and the amount of credits awarded in the credit table.

        What's inside your portfolio?

        Regular Course Units

        When your register for a regular course (To do so, download the registration form here and send it to RTDO@vub.be) then it will appear in your portfolio. The evaluation of that course will afterwards be processed by the Researcher Training & Development 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 and workshops at the VUB

        In order to claim credits for a workshop you participated in at the VUB, you will have to add the workshop to your attended seminars in portfolio, and then upload proof of your participation.

        The proof depends on who organized the workshop and how registration was managed:

        For events for which you registered to TEO’s VUB LRN module, you will be able to download the proof of participation yourself. After you have successfully completed the seminar or workshop and the organizers have uploaded the attendance list, you can download the learning certificate by following this procedure.  Remember to always check the elaborate seminar description in TEO LRN for the appropriate amount of credits to assign to this seminar and for any specific clarifications. The director of your doctoral school will be invited to validate the activity, and the portfolio will display whether it has been approved or not.

        For some workshops and events at the VUB, registration is not managed through TEO’s VUB LRN. In these cases, you should receive a proof of participation from the organizers of the workshop. After you have uploaded this proof to your portfolio,  the director of your doctoral school will also have to approve your participation.

        For workshops/seminars where the amount of credits is not explicitly stated, you will have to calculate these yourself. You can claim 1 credit for every 24 hours of time investment. As there are no half credits, these are rounded up, but seminars with a total time investment of less than three hours do not award credits. For example, a seminar spread over 3 days with 4 hours of class each and extracurricular work of about 3 hours, counts as 1 credit.

        Introduction Days for new PhD candidates

        If you've attended and signed the registration list, we will upload proof of your presence to your “activities” ->“attended seminars' in Portfolio. You can use ‘print view’ in Portfolio and copypaste this into your progress report as proof.

        Doctoral seminars at other institutions or universities

        Doctoral seminars and workshops that are organized by other institutions or universities need to be added to ‘attended seminars’ on Portfolio by the PhD candidate, along with proof of participation.

        Proof of participation should be provided by the organizing university or organization. If this was not provided, please request if from the organizers. Should you want proof of your participation in a doctoral seminar for your own personal administration, you can ask the lecturer to fill in the Proof of Participation form which can be found here.

        Afterwards, the director of your doctoral school will have to approve the course, and you will be able to view their decisions in your portfolio.

        You can claim 1 credit for every 24 hours of time investment. As there are no half credits, these are rounded up, but seminars with a total time investment of less than three hours do not award credits. For example, a seminar spread over 3 days with 4 hours of class each and additional coursework of about 3 hours, counts as 1 credit.

        Research activities

        Research related activities must be entered into the PURE database. Research activities registered on PURE will be automatically transferred to your portfolio. 
        ** Find the presentations on the infosessions about PURE and Portfolio here.

        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.

        It is important to note that:

        1. only VUB members of personnel have access to Pure (check what to do in case you are not VUB personnel below)

        2. only certain types of publications and activities are relevant for your portfolio (check the credit table to see what is transferred)

        3. only validated publications are linked to your portfolio.

        Access to Pure

        If you are not (yet) a member of personnel, please request an affiliated member of personnel status (= onbezoldigd medewerker) via the secretarial office of your faculty.  You can find dan overview of the Faculty representatives here.

        All info and assistance (or who to contact) on PURE here

        Help and support


        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.

        Important news: Problems with PhD Portfolio


        Problems with PhD Portfolio


        The necessary information to have access to PhD Portfolio may be incomplete.


        This is a known issue, and the Doctoral Schools are working with the faculties to update the information for PhD candidates so you have access to Portfolio and can see all the workshops that you attended. The Doctoral Schools hope to complete this process by the end of this (calendar) year. No action is required from PhD candidates.