Applying for a PhD programme at Wageningen University
Applying for a PhD programme at WUR can be a tad confusing. At least it was for me when I started reading about it. There are many ways of becoming part of this high-ranked university and research institution. But that only means there are many opportunities to be part of significant research around the world!
The four-year PhD programmes at Wageningen University & Research mainly consist of conducting research and writing a final dissertation. It is also possible to spend 10% of the time on teaching and up to 15% of the time on training, participating in courses, competence and skills training, seminars, conferences and workshops.
In this blog, I will introduce you to the basic steps of applying for a PhD programme at Wageningen University & Research.
The first thing you need to know is that there different types of PhD candidates:
a. Employed candidates.
Graduate schools recruit research assistants through vacancy announcements and interviews. You can find an overview of current research assistant vacancies on the PhD vacancies page. These PhD candidates have an employment contract with Wageningen University. The candidates have four to five-year temporary contracts for a trajectory directed to a PhD graduation. They do not need to pay a tuition fee. They actually get paid for doing their PhD (getting paid for researching? Count me in!). WUR also has research employees who do not yet have a PhD. In this case, arrangements are made designed to help them complete a doctoral research project.
b. Scholarship candidates.
Scholarship PhD candidates have received a fellowship without an employment contract. These include PhD candidates in a sandwich construction who are not employed by an institute in their home country. By sandwich construction, WUR means that these PhD candidates have a home institute which takes care of funding. However, it goes beyond funding. The aim of the Sandwich PhD Programme is capacity building, building international scientific networks, facilitating exchange and reinforcing the knowledge basis of their PhD candidates’ home institution. If you would like to know more about these programmes click on this link.
c. Externally financed candidates.
These PhD candidates are employed by an institute/organization other than WUR. The main relation with WUR is via the supervisors. They can be PhD candidates appointed at an external research institute or employees appointed at an external research institute, with the possibility to follow a PhD trajectory in addition to the regular tasks connected to the employment contract.
d. External candidates
External PhD candidates do not have any funding or employment contracts with a research institute. These candidates do their research on their own time. And just like the externally financed candidates, the main relation with WUR is via the supervisors.
As you may have guessed by now, each type of candidacy has its own timeline. The differences rely on the type of funding, the kind of research you would like to pursue, as well as your geographical location. However, there is a basic process to follow for applying to the PhD programme at WUR:
- Orientation: thoroughly read the information about the PhD programme.
a. Reply on a PhD vacancy application. Just like applying to any other job, you can reply to PhD vacancies at WUR. Each vacancy has a detailed description of the research and the supervisors. You can find vacant positions here.
b. Approach a Graduate School. WUR has six Graduate Schools, that have three main tasks: to coordinate, develop and facilitate doctoral education and training; to stimulate and coordinate the development of a coherent research programme within the mission of the graduate school; and to safeguard, monitor and stimulate the quality and progress of research by staff, postdocs and PhD candidates. You can find more information about the graduate schools on this page.
- First evaluation: if the application meets the Graduate School’s requirements and conditions, the committee will send it to a supervisor for further evaluation.
- Second evaluation: during this second evaluation, the supervisor will evaluate the candidate using specific criteria which you can find here. Afterwards, the supervisor has to consult an HR advisor in order to check that fellowship finances some from outside WUR.
- Registration:The Chair Group informs the Graduate School about the intended registration of the PhD candidate. The graduate school opens registration in Hora Finita and the PhD candidate is in charge of uploading the required documents.
- Admission: the PhD candidate signs the contract or employment agreement with the department, and the tuition fees are paid when required. The PhD candidate has an introduction meeting with the Graduate School. If the PhD candidate needs to take courses at a BSc or MSc level, the Graduate School must register the candidate as a student.
As they say “good things take time”, WUR may take some weeks to respond, as Wageningen receives many PhD applications. If you want to know more details about applying, the specific requirements and the timeline of the PhD programme at WUR, you can find it at the Overview of Procedures along a timeline.