Portal for

    Information and guidance

    The Researcher Training & Development Office is the contact point for all PhD candidates at the VUB. We can guide you through the general procedures, events and funding methods.

    Workshops and announcements

    The Researcher Training & Development Officee organises a number of workshops specifically targeted at PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers. We also keep you posted on other relevant workshops which are offered by other VUB departments.

    Our activities are intended to offer PhD candidates the opportunity to develop skills which will support their research, teaching abilities and personal development. They are generally free of charge.

    All PhD related news, such as upcoming workshops, funding deadlines, etc. will be distributed through the monthly e-newsletter for PhD candidates.

    What CAN'T we help with?

    • Since PhD trajectories are highly specialised, any questions related to your field of study should be addressed to your supervisor.
    • The Researcher Training & Development Office does not provide research funding itself, but can guide you through the various funding options for scientific research within the VUB.
    • The Researcher Training & Development Office does not process the applications of prospective PhD candidates. Your faculty and the Education and Student Administration are in charge of the admissions.

    Call us, send us an e-mail or visit our office

    The Researcher Training & Development Office

    Personal guidance

    While independence and confidence are required for a PhD, qualitative support should always be available for any doctoral candidate.

    Monitoring PhD progress

    Your supervisor is there to guide you with enthusiasm and expertise, which you can keenly take advantage of. Feel free to discuss the extent of your collaboration with your supervisor. You can negotiate the terms of your cooperation any time.

    In addition to the supervisor, an advisory committee can watch over your progress and give you the necessary feedback. In case you don't have an advisory committee, you can discuss this with your supervisor. Together, you will decide who is the most suitable for the committee and invite them for an exploratory meeting.

    General guidance

    We can keep you up to date and direct you to the services you need.

    Researcher Training & Development Office

    Meet a helpful friend!

    PhD Buddy

    Mental well-being

    If it's difficult to talk about it with a colleague, we are here to listen.

    Student psychologists

    Award for Excellent Phd Supervision


    The Researcher Training & Development Office and the Doctoral Schools will award a supervisor (or supervisory team) for their excellent supervision, and this on a two-yearly basis, starting in 2018. PhD candidates can nominate their supervisor, a tandem of supervisors or a supervisory team. The idea is that PhD candidates take the “good supervisor” guidelines, annexed to the Central PhD regulations, as a basis to evaluate if their supervisor is doing a good job and explain in 500 to 1000 words max why their supervisor should earn this award. 


    This is part of the overall quality monitoring of the PhD progress. Firstly, this is done through the survey results of the annual PhD survey – which can pinpoint possible problems and give a general overview of current practices (the general amount of time spent on guidance, implementation of advisory commissions, overall concerns of PhDs). Secondly, we want to give the floor to good supervisors and be an inspiration to other (starting) supervisors. 

    Need some good examples? Check: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2017/jun/08/what-makes-a-great-phd-supervisor 

    Eligibility criteria 

    • All PhD candidates enrolled in the doctoral program or postdoctoral researchers who defended their PhD less than two years ago at the time of submission
    • Only VUB teams or VUB supervisor(s) can be nominated 


    The next awards will be granted in 2020. Do you already wish to nominate your supervisor? Fill out one of the forms and send it to RTDO@vub.be

    Form NL
    Form EN


    Vice-rector research policy, 3 doctoral school directors, coordinator Researcher Training & Development Office and 3 PhD representatives (one from each DS) will select 3 supervisors/advisors who will be honoured on the award ceremony. 

    The laureates of 2018 are:

    DSH: Christophe Vanroelen (ES)

    LSM: Lieve Van den Block (GF)

    NSE: Eric Jespers (WE)

    Read a few short excerpts of these supervisors and who else got nominated in our booklet here.

    The next edition will be organised in 2020.


    Mental health care

    As a registered PhD candidate at the VUB, you can use the same mental health services as employees. More information can be found on the internal Sharepoint page

    You can find their contact details here. For general questions concerning wellbeing at work, or when you do not know exactly who to contact:

    Jan Den Haese: 0487 300 710

    Aline Antoine: 0470 834 679

    What the ombudsperson can do for you?

    The ombudsperson for PhD candidates can operate as a mediator between the candidates and their supervisors or the PhD progress monitoring commission.

    The role of the ombudsperson

    If you have encountered difficulties with your supervisors or with the PhD monitoring commission, you should address the issue to the ombudsperson of the PhD candidates.

    The ombudsperson's goal is to take the candidate's remarks into consideration and arrive at a friendly settlement of complaints.

    To enable them to carry out their function, the ombudspersons for PhD candidates have the right to consult any documents related to the case, and to participate in the meetings of the PhD progress monitoring commission. You can find more information on the ombudsperson in the Central Regulations concerning the conferring of the Academic PhD Degree.

    The ombudsperson is NOT…

    • Your lawyer. The ombudsperson has a neutral position towards the problems you might face as a PhD candidate. The ombudsperson will support you in finding a solution that is acceptable to both parties and is in the first place concerned with the situation of the PhD candidate.
    • Your therapist. If you encounter personal problems that get in the way of performing your research, it might be a good idea to contact our Centre for Wellbeing. You can go on consultation free of charge.
    • Your first contact point for PhD related questions. The ombudsperson is happy to help resolve issues in the research team or with the supervisor, but does not answer general questions on the doctoral trajectory. For these questions, please contact the Researcher Training & Development Office via RTDO@vub.be

    Stages in handling remarks

    1. The PhD candidate contacts the ombudsperson with a remark or complaint.
    2. The ombudsperson will arrange a meeting to consult and advise the candidate on how to proceed. The ombudsperson records all the information in a confidential file.
    3. The candidate and ombudsperson discuss a possible solution.
    4. At the request of the candidate, the ombudsperson can act as a mediator between the candidate, the supervisors, the PhD monitoring commission and the faculty.
    5. Should the candidate decide to file a written complaint, they will receive a written follow-up with the faculty's decision.
      • In the case of a written complaint, the ombudsperson for PhD candidates will propose a friendly settlment to the Dean of the faculty within three weeks.
      • The PhD candidate and the ombudsperson are informed in writing of the conclusion of the Dean.

    Contact your ombudsperson

    PhD ombudspersons

    Opportunities for researchers

    Research and innovation play a valuable role in society. Many institutions are willing to provide support for ambitious PhD candidates.

    Financing research

    There are various ways to fund research, even outside of a PhD. Doctoral candidates can find sponsorship, scholarships or research grants, and can also earn a monthly income at the VUB.

    Doctoral School grants

    If it's important for your work, it's important to us. Doctoral Schools offer grants for PhD-related activities, travel and publications.

    We're here for you!

    At the VUB, there's more to a PhD candidate's life than research. Meet other candidates, tell us your story and join fun activities in our PhD networks!

    Connecting PhD candidates

    PhD Networks

    When in doubt, ask a buddy!

    PhD Buddy Project

    PhD in the spotlight

    'PhD candidate in the spotlight'. 

    What was your main motivation to start the PhD?  What’s keeping you motivated when your research isn’t going the way you wanted it to be? How does your PhD research influences your personal life? What should every PhD candidate keep in mind?

    We all have our motivations and strategies to deal with our PhD research. In every newsletter we ask a fellow PhD candidate to shine a light on them.

     Are you interested to be featured in our next newsletter? Contact: RTDO@vub.be

    My name is Irene, I am Greek and live in the Netherlands. My PhD is a joint project of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (LSTS) and the Tilburg University (TILT). The project explores the impact of soft law on the protection of fundamental rights in the European Union, by focusing on technical standards and the right to protection of personal data.

    Read more here

    Irene Kamara (DSH - Faculty of Law and Criminology)

    Frequently asked questions

    This page offers bits of wisdom from past experiences, as well as some guidance on where to look further.

    SOS Introduction Days


    I can't attend the mandatory Introduction Day!

    If you already have access to TEO on VUB LRN, search for 'introduction day' to find the course.

    You're likely to have some alternatives:

    • The PhD introduction days are offered twice a year at campus Etterbeek: the second week of October and the second week of February. After all, it doesn't matter when you attend one. You just have to prove you were present for one introduction day during your first academic year.
    • There is also a shorter yearly introduction day at Campus Jette. That makes three opportunities in total.


    I missed the Introduction Day. What can I do?

    There are only consequences for PhD candidates who started their PhD from 2017-2018 onwards.

    After submitting your annual progress report without proof of attendance for the Introduction Day, you will get a warning from the Doctoral Progress Monitoring Commission. If you fail to attend the introduction day in the next academic year, you will not be able to enrol for your studies.

    • If you were working abroad for a longer period of time or you have another fulltime job, you can mention this (with proof) in your progress report and you will be admitted to the next academic year.
    • The Doctoral Progress Monitoring Commission of each faculty will also pardon your absence for other serious, justifiable reasons.
    ABCs of funding


    Can the Researcher Training & Development Office provide grants for my PhD?

    The Researcher Training & Development Office does not provide research grants, but the Doctoral Schools do. They regularly offer grants to help PhD activities and travel, or the editing and publishing of PhD works.

    Besides the academic grants, there are other ways to fund and sponsor your PhD.


    Does the VUB offer any other ways to fund research, besides PhDs?

    For an overview of the various types of research funding we offer, click here.

    The Research & Data Management website is dedicated to finding funds and centralizing all relevant information on project funding available to academics at the VUB. It will not only help you to find the right funding for your projects, but it will also guide you through the process.

    Getting started


    I am not a PhD student at the VUB. Can I still join your PhD activities?

    Of course! Anyone can register for our PhD events regardless of background, but the activities usually limit the number of participants. For this reason, organisers follow several priority rules.

    • If you are a PhD student from a Flemish university, you can join most of our activities for free! Your request is taken into consideration after the requests of our Doctoral School students.
    • Participants outside the VUB and its partner institutions have the lowest priority, and can expect to be put on a waiting list if the event is highly attended.
      • It's also possible you will have to pay to join. The standard fee for outside participants is € 25 per event, but specific activities may charge other prices.
      • Please contact the Researcher Training & Devleopment Office to ask about the activities you want to participate in first.

    Do not forget to register for the event! We will send you a confirmation or inform you if you have been put on a waiting list.


    How can I activate my VUB account?

    After registering as a member of the VUB staff, you must activate your VUB account. You will be asked to create a login and password which will give you access to a number of electronic services, such as e-mail, university databanks, Intranet etc.

    • Activate your account using this link. This way, you will also receive all electronic communications sent out to students and staff.

    If you prefer not to use the University's e-mail services, you can redirect all your incoming messages to another address using this link. For answers to a range of questions concerning the computer infrastructure of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, look here.


    Why do workshops give so few credits?

    You only need 30 credits to finalise the entire Doctoral Training Program. The other 30 credits are granted after the successful defence of your PhD.

    The number of awarded credits depends on the time and effort that has to be invested to obtain them. Taking a regular course requires an estimated 125 hours, and often produces 6 credits. By comparison, the "mere" attendance of a DS seminar will only generate a limited number of credits.

    Moving further


    I'm having trouble with my supervisor/PhD monitoring commission. What can I do?

    If you feel like your supervisor/PhD monitoring commission has ignored you, did not offer the help that you requested or has negatively affected your progress, you should arrange a meeting with your ombudsperson.

    The ombudsperson's goal is to resolve situations that disrupt the PhD supervision process and arrive at a friendly settlement of complaints.


    What's the difference between a PhD Certificate and Attestation?

    The Certificate and Attestation are mutually exclusive and each PhD student can only make a request for either of these documents once.

    • If you have obtained at least 30 credits and have successfully defended your doctoral thesis, you are rewarded a Doctoral Training Progamme Certificate and a Doctoral diploma.
    • If you did not obtain 30 credits and/or have not defended your doctoral thesis, you may request an Attestation listing the activities you attended as part of the Doctoral Training Programme.


    How can I validate past activities as part of the Doctoral Training Programme?

    Credits obtained after the student has taken the degree providing access to a PhD programme can still be taken into account. In order to do so, you can upload them as an external regular course in your PhD portfolio.

    You will need to provide the necessary evidence that you have obtained these credits. For regular courses, you need the confirmation of your supervisor that these (course) activities are relevant for your PhD. And, as in all cases, the Doctoral School Director needs to confirm this application.


    What happens if my supervisor becomes an emeritus before my PhD is over?

    Since the PhD process usually covers several years, it's possible for your supervisor to retire during this time.

    As an emeritus, they can still guide you, but you will need to find a second supervisor who is an active member of the academic staff at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

    Announcing a PhD event


    Is there a template I can use for a scientific poster?

    As of yet, there is no template you can use for a VUB-themed scientific poster.

    However, the Marketing, Communications and Events (MARCOM) department of the VUB will go out of their way to make sure that research that comes out of the VUB is properly formatted and looks stunning on paper. They can help lay out your work in the corporate identity of the VUB, free of charge, whether it's booklets, invitations, brochures or posters.

    Remember to contact them in advance. You should provide all your text and images at least 14 days before the delivery date.


    Where can I print this huge poster?

    Quality printing in a large format, like A0 posters, can be done at the VUB Computing Centre. You will need to pick up the prints on the ULB Campus.


    Combining a PhD track with pursuing an educational master (only in Dutch)

    Als doctoraatsstudent kan je een verkort traject Educatieve Master combineren met je doctoraat. Enerzijds draagt de opleiding educatieve master bij aan professionalisering en geeft ze een stimulans aan de vaardigheden voor wetenschapscommunicatie. Anderzijds versterkt het diploma de inzetbaarheid op de arbeidsmarkt, in het secundair en hoger onderwijs of in andere opleidingscontexten. Bovendien biedt het - als antwoord op het bestaande lerarentekort en de nood aan hoogopgeleide profielen in het onderwijs - een maatschappelijke meerwaarde.

    Lees er hier meer over →

    Thesis topics and supervisors

    First steps of a PhD

    Planning your semesters

    Doctoral Training Programme

    Freely study in other institutions

    VUB partnerships

    I still have other questions!

    That was a long list, but I still can't find anything relevant to my problem and I don't know where else to look.

    Don't hesitate to contact us

    Researcher Training & Development Office