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Research Graduate School for the Humanities PhD programme Admission Guidelines for external PhD applicants

2. Documentation

Your CV

Alongside information about your educational background and your research and publications, the CV should contain full personal details including your full postal address, date and place of birth and (for applicants outside the Netherlands) a copy of the photopage of your passport and visa. You should also mention a current email address.

A letter of motivation

You must submit a letter of motivation in which you outline why you wish to undertake research within the GSH. In such a letter, you should attempt to answer the questions of how the PhD study fits into your career plans, why Groningen is the right place for you to conduct this research (keeping in mind that we prefer applications to pursue research in our stronger areas), and why you are the right person to undertake research on that topic. Letters of motivation should be short: 650 words maximum.

Research proposal

A research proposal, specifying your research topic or theme, should be included in your application. We find it essential that candidates and supervisors agree on the general direction of a project from the beginning. Therefore, please indentify a suitable supervisor and imbed him/here in your research proposal. Contact a suitable supervisor prior to submitting your application. You should also include a proposed timetable of study. In your proposal you should answer questions such as: What, precisely, is your research topic? Why are you choosing to research this topic? How do you propose to study the topic? Why is further study of this topic important (i.e. not merely desirable or possible)?

Research proposals may be up to 2000 words in length. You may include supporting documentation (i.e. documentation not formally required elsewhere in the application) if you wish, e.g. any published papers you have written (or may be in the process of writing or co-writing) or a selected bibliography. It is important to be as accurate, concise and explanatory as possible.

Academic referees

Please include letters of recommendation from two academic referees, as well as the referees' names and (email-)addresses. It is usual, and helpful, if one referee can speak for your undergraduate career and the other referee for your graduate career (i.e. study at Master’s level).

Certified copies

Please send us:

  • A (certified) copy of your diploma(s) or degree certificate(s). If they are not in Dutch or English please provide an English translation. If you have not yet completed your Master’s degree, please send a statement of expected date of graduation signed by your university department, School and Faculty.
  • A (certified) copy of your transcripts (list of grades). If they are not in English, Dutch, French or German, please also provide a certified translation in English, Dutch, French or German. If you have not yet completed your Master’s educational programme, please send temporary transcripts showing the grades you have received to date. In that case, please also send us a list of courses that are not on the temporary transcripts but that you will have to take to complete your programme.

You may send us scanned copies, to be included in your formal application. However, we may ask for paper versions to be sent.

Proof of English language proficiency

In the case of non-native users of English, a statement of competence/certification in written and spoken English must be submitted. This official documentation should include an official test result, e.g. IELTS score, TOEFL score or Cambridge Certificate. This does not apply for Dutch candidates who plan to write their thesis in Dutch. The minimum scores required are:


  • Overall score of 7.0, and no lower than 6.5 on parts.


  • A minimum score of at least 587 on the paper-based test is required, as well as a minimum score of 550 on the parts.
  • A minimum score of at least 237 on the computer-based test is required.
  • A minimum score of at least 92 on the internet-based test is required, as well as a minimum score of at least 79 on the parts.

Other standardized tests:

  • Similar level to acceptable IELTS and TOEFL results. This will be determined by the GSH Admissions Board.

More information on UG policy about the English language requirement can be found here.


  • A statement of the academic funding agency, if any - i.e. what sort of scholarship do you hold? How long does it last? Which national or international body provides it?
  • A statement of financial support. Some academic scholarships include support for living costs; some scholarships are ‘fees only’. In the last case you need to include in your application to us a statement, certifying that you are able to maintain yourself as a temporary resident in the Netherlands and that you are aware of the costs that living in the Netherlands entails. (To receive a residence permit as a researcher your minimum monthly income should be Euro 1286,-, or Euro 1838,- if you are a researcher with a family.) You can find out more about living costs and other practical matters on, especially the item financial matters.
Last modified:28 November 2023 4.38 p.m.