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If you wish to start your PhD as a self-funded candidate (i.e. all PhD candidates who do not receive a salary from the Faculty of Humanities--so including people who receive a grant which is paid to them directly, as well as candidates that are 'matched' by their job to do research), the first thing to do is to choose one of our research schools that suits your specialism. As the Faculty of Humanities is an interdisciplinary research faculty, there are six research schools to choose from. The next step is to find two supervisors who are willing to supervise your research. Each research school lists its academic staff on its website. and candidates are required to find their own supervisors. The coordinator of the chosen research school may be able to assist you with selecting suitable supervisors, and can answer practical questions. Please note that at least one supervisor should have the ius promovendi (the right to act as first supervisor to PhD candidates); all full professors and some associate professors hold this right.

Fees and requirements

Starting a PhD at the Faculty of Humanities as a self-funded candidate is a two-step procedure, starting at the research school. First, candidates need to be admitted by a research school: see the application procedure below. Then, they are contacted by the Faculty in order to start the admission procedure to the UvA doctoral programme. All PhD candidates need to be admitted to the UvA doctoral programme by the Doctorate Board and need to meet the requirements set by the Doctorate Board in the Doctorate Regulations. One of these requirements is that the candidate should have obtained a Master’s degree.

The Faculty of Humanities does not regard PhD candidates as students. Once accepted, self-funded candidates automatically receive a full tuition waiver. 

There are no set requirements at the Faculty of Humanities for the level of English a candidate has to have; therefore, we do not have any requirements to provide an IELTS, TOEFL etc. score. However, a very good command of English is highly recommended and a candidate’s level of English will be assessed by the supervisors and research school based on the submitted research proposal.


In order to join the Faculty of Humanities as a self-funded PhD candidate you need to take the following steps:

  1. Read the Research Programmes of the research schools on the website and decide which school you want to join, depending on how your project fits with or contributes to the programme of this school.
  2. Choose a potential supervisor from the members of the research school and contact them by sending an email and a first short draft of your proposal.
  3. Once you have found one supervisor willing to supervise you and your project, together you should look for a second (and possibly third) supervisor. Again, please note that at least one supervisor should have the ius promovendi; all full professors and some associate professors hold the ius promovendi
  4. Rewrite the proposal according to the advice provided by the supervisors: see the guidelines for the full proposal below. 
  5. Ask your supervisors to write a short statement confirming their commitment to the project, with an argumentation on how the project contributes to the programme of the research school (max. 250 words).
  6. Send the proposal, including a CV, your address, copies of your BA and MA diplomas and grades, a copy of your passport, and your supervisor's statements by email to the coordinator of the school.
  7. The research school will inform you whether your application has been accepted, needs to be resubmitted with revisions, or has been rejected.
  8. Upon acceptance, you will be admitted to the research school as a new PhD candidate for a probationary period of max. 18 months. After 12-18 months, your progress will be evaluated by your supervisors and the director of the school on the basis of a so-called pilot study; only if you pass the pilot study, your affiliation as a PhD candidate will be renewed.

Research proposal for self-funded PhD candidates 

In the Netherlands, scholars are expected to prepare specific proposals, in which central questions, aims, theoretical premises, concepts, the corpus to be studied and proposed methods are described in some detail. General outlines are considered too undeveloped and therefore turned down almost immediately. This requirement is based on the idea that candidates have completed a (research) MA and that the PhD is the core activity and goal of the student. 

Proposal guidelines

Please strictly follow the format below to prepare your full proposal.

1. Supervisors

For each project there need to be two supervisors, one of whom should have the ius promovendi 

  • Supervisor 1:
  • Supervisor 2:

2. Name PhD candidate

3. Curriculum Vitae PhD candidate

  • Full address details
  • Education
  • Relevant professional information
  • Publications, other relevant academic output (presentations, reviews)
  • Grants, honours, etc.
  • Relevant language skills

4. Title of research proposal

5. Summary (max. 250 words)

Please provide a brief summary of the project.

6. Project proposal (max. 2,500 words)

Please outline the following in your proposal.

  • Object(s) of research and main aims/objectives of the project
  • Research questions or hypotheses
  • Theoretical approach and methodology (min. 400 words). Please provide detailed information regarding your data/sources: how will these be obtained/selected and analysed?
  • Scientific importance of the proposed project (min. 400 words). Please provide a ‘state of the art’ of the field and explain how the project will advance the understanding of the object(s) of research and the scientific field(s) with which you engage.
  • Importance of the proposed project for the Research School
  • A work plan or planning for the project. Please specify a starting date and prospective completion date, as well as completion dates for important output (chapters, articles, data collection, etc).
  • A bibliography of important scholarly work your refer to (nb: the bibliography does not count towards the word limit)

7. Motivation for doing PhD research (max. 300 words)

Please provide your motivation for doing scientific research and any relevant experience you have for carrying out the proposed project. 

8. Recommendation by the supervisors (max. 250 words)

Both supervisors are requested to write a short statement confirming their commitment to the project and the candidate.

9. Research budget

Self-funded PhD candidates are entitled to a research budget of €4,500 for costs related to presenting papers at conferences and doing fieldwork, including travel and accommodation costs, and for the production of the final manuscript (printing, editing). Please provide a short breakdown of how you are planning to use this research budget.

10. Data management

Will data be collected or generated that are suitable for reuse? Yes/No

If yes, a data management plan must be made and presented here; see for more information.

11. Research ethics

Will human test subjects and/or interviewees be involved in the research? Yes/No

If yes, please provide details here; and please make sure to seek the approval of the Ethics Committee of the Faculty for your project after your admission: see for more information.

12. Previous research experience

Are you currently working towards a PhD degree elsewhere or have you worked towards a PhD degree at another institution? Yes/No

If yes, please provide details: at which institution do or did you work towards a PhD degree, for how long, and are you or have you formally been admitted to a doctoral programme?

13. Funding

Will you receive any sort of funding (e.g. a scholarship, grant, fellowship, ...) to work towards a PhD degree at the Faculty of Humanities? Yes/No

If yes, please provide details; particularly what kind of funding (private or public) you will receive and from whom, how much (per month or year), for how long, and whether any particular conditions have been set for you to receive the funding (e.g. yearly reports, the completion of the dissertation within a particular amount of years, etc.). 

Please send the above information, together with a copy of your passport and a copy of your BA and MA degrees and grades (transcript) to the coordinator of the research school of your choice by e-mail.