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In the Netherlands, PhD candidates are classed not as students but as researchers.

As a PhD candidate, you will make an original contribution to science and scholarship. A doctoral programme usually lasts four years (full-time) but in some cases, a programme may be shorter or longer. Some doctoral programmes take just three years full-time, while for some external PhD candidates, who carry out their doctoral research alongside or after their work, it may take more than four years.

Original and independent research 

During the doctoral programme, the emphasis lies on performing original, independent research with the help of a supervisor and a co-supervisor. As a PhD candidate you may also have teaching responsibilities, you will take specialised and more general courses and you will attend conferences. The aim of obtaining a doctorate is to acquire the skills you need to carry out independent academic research.

Doctoral thesis 

At the end of your doctoral programme, you will present your results in a doctoral thesis (dissertation). Once your supervisors have approved your thesis, it will be submitted to a Doctorate Committee for assessment. If the assessment is positive, you will be asked to defend your doctoral thesis before this Committee. The successful defence of a doctoral thesis results in a doctorate (PhD degree).