Universiteit Leiden

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Graduate School of Humanities

Prospective PhD candidates

Thank you for your interest in doing PhD research at the Leiden Graduate School of Humanities. Below you will find information on how to start your PhD at Humanities in Leiden.

Doing a PhD means undertaking original scholarly research under the supervision of a professor. It takes on average four years. Many PhD candidates are employed by the University but a number are subsidised by grants they have arranged themselves. The University also has a large number of external PhD candidates who generally work part-time on their research.

If you wish to conduct PhD research with a PhD graduation planned at the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University, there are three possibilities. You will be an:

  1. Employed PhD candidate, a paid PhD position constitutes a four-year full time (or five year 0.8 FTE part time) research position, with full funding sufficient for general subsistence.
  2. Contract PhD candidate, subsidised by a grant (CSC, DIKTI, other);
  3. External PhD candidate supported by your own funds (job, savings, loan).


Some institutes (IH, LIAS and LUCL) charge a fee to contract and/or external PhD candidates for supervision and other benefits. You can find this information on the website of the institute. As a PhD candidate of the Faculty of Humanities you are obliged to pay the Institute's fee. Apart from fees, there are several other financial matters that may need your attention (see: ‘Costs of living in the Netherlands’).

Employed PhD candidate

Application to a paid position is in response to an advertisement by the University. Vacancies are advertised on the Leiden University websites and other online channels (see the block ‘Vacancies’ on the right side of this page). They become available through external research funding (e.g. from NWO or EU) with the University acting as grant-holding institution and employer. Alternatively, positions will be available through special projects at institute, faculty or university level. A third option is that you receive funding through the NWO call ‘PhDs in the Humanities’.

  • A full-time place is in principle a four-year appointment (or five year 0.8 FTE part time) with 10% teaching duties.
  • Contract will be for one year: after ca.10 months a progress review will be carried out, deciding whether the progress has been sufficient.
  • If the employed PhD position is continued,  the maximum extension is three years.
  • After you have been selected for an employed PhD position, you will be asked by an Institute’s staff member to register at the Graduate School by filling in the LUCRIS GSM Application form. If for some reason this did not happen, please send an email to phd-admissions@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Contract PhD Candidate

Contract PhDs receive a grant in their country of origin, which enables them to conduct PhD research at our University (see the block ‘Scholarships’ on the right side of this page). The Graduate School of Humanities does not provide PhD grants. If you plan to apply for a personal research grant elsewhere and wish to carry out your research and graduate at the Faculty of Humanities, you need to:

  • Find a professor in the Faculty of Humanities who is willing and able to supervise you for the whole PhD track (see: ‘How to find a supervisor’).
  • Once you have found a supervisor, apply for admission by sending an email to phd-admissions@hum.leidenuniv.nl. See: ‘Admission to the Graduate School’.
  • If your grant is awarded, you should inform your supervisor and the Graduate School Office.

External PhD Candidate

External PhD candidates receive their funding from other sources than Leiden University or PhD grants. External PhD candidates are not allowed to teach in the regular curriculum. If you wish to conduct your research and graduate at the Faculty of Humanities, you need to:

External PhD candidates are not entitled to any facilities or financial support from the University; however some institutes offer contributions for specific purposes (such as a contribution towards the publication of the dissertation). You can find this information on the institute’s website.

There are at present no registration costs at the Faculty of Humanities. Some institutes ask their contract and/or external PhD candidates for an annual supervision fee. You can find this information on the institute’s website. Apart from funding, there are several other financial matters that may need your attention (see: ‘Costs of living in the Netherlands’).

Combining a job with a PhD?

This is possible at the Dual PhD Centre. The Centre focuses on external PhD candidates who devote part of their working time to scientific research on a theme from their professional practice. The Centre helps these dual PhD candidates develop a research plan, provides training and ensures that their research fits within a scientific discipline and graduate school, and that it ties in with the research of a potential supervisor. A unique opportunity for the PhD candidate, the employer and for science.

Doctoral Grant for Teachers

Since 2011 the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has made a Doctoral Grant available for teachers in primary, secondary, further professional, higher professional and special education. With this initiative the Ministry aims to increase the number of teachers with a doctorate in the classroom. This will contribute to improving the quality of education and will strengthen the connection between universities and schools. They can use this grant to do PhD research. Selected teachers are exempted from their teaching-related tasks for a maximum of 0.4 fte over a period of maximum 5 years. As PhD Candidates with a NWO Doctoral Grant for Teachers remain under contract of the school where they teach, they have the status of external PhD candidates at Leiden University.

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