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Education The Faculty Graduate Schools Graduate School of Religion, Culture and Society PhD Programme

Application procedure PhD programme


The Faculty of Religion, Culture and Society offers students who want to pursue their own research the possibility to pursue a PhD degree. As a PhD candidate, you develop and work on your own research project for. It is also possible to pursue a PhD-project part-time, the duration of the project will then be adjusted accordingly. Coursework is tailored to your individual needs at the start of your project. We do not charge a tuition fee.

To pursue a PhD degree at our faculty, an admission to the Graduate School of Religion, Culture and Society is required. Please note that admission to the Graduate School does not automatically entail that a scholarship is granted. This is a separate issue.

Admission is selective, which means that we will look at the quality of the candidate’s CV and the quality of the research proposal. Furthermore, we take into account whether we have the required expertise for supervising the research.


Occasionally, we will have positions for PhD candidates to conduct research within a larger research projects. These positions are advertised through the main university website. When you apply for these positions, the selection committee will refer your file to the Graduate School and admission takes place as described in the admission procedure.

Admission procedure

You can read more about the Dutch PhD system and language requirements on the webpage (How to obtain a PhD position).

In deciding whether our Faculty is the right place to pursue a PhD degree, it is important that candidates familiarize themselves with the expertise available. Once they have an outline of the research project that they want to pursue, candidates are advised to contact one of our academic staff members (find staff in each of the three departments) to discuss the idea and work to bring it in line with the standards for admission to the Graduate School. This staff member can also advise who can act as the supervising professor (promotor). Once there is a good research proposal, the application can be submitted online.

A complete application for PhD positions consists of:

  1. A competitive Curriculum Vitae;
    as evidenced by grades, research experience, prizes and awards, etc.
  2. A sketch of your intellectual history (c. 600 words);
    indicating the factors that have brought you to your present focus of intellectual and scholarly interests and what you hope to learn from doctoral study at our School.
  3. A research based MA-thesis and other major academic papers, if any.
    Please note that at least one sample of writing should be included in the English, German, French, Spanish or Dutch language. Papers should demonstrate your scholarly capacity, be no longer than 30 pages, in your intended field of specialization and representative of your best work.
  4. A completed MA degree (an official certified copy), at a university comparable to a Dutch university. Note that any copies of the required official documents must be authenticated (read more about certified copies). We prefer that you submit your certified documents digitally.
    You can submit the digital documents in the following forms:
    • Documents sent as PDF files, provided that we receive these directly from the issuing institution's official email address (or registrar). This means we do not accept PDF files if these are sent from an unverifiable email account. The document must be sent by the issuing institution to graduateschool.rcs
    • Documents shared using an independent academic verification platform (i.e. Australia and New Zealand: MyEquals, Canada: Blockcerts and MyCreds, China: CSSD, United Kingdom: GradIntelligence, HEAR and DigitaryCORE, United States: Parchment, National Student Clearing House).
    • Documents submitted via our application form.
      You can submit your documents directly if they can be verified online via a secured electronic system/database of your institution.
    Note: The diploma documents must mention the date of graduation and the name of the programme.
  5. Official certified transcripts from each college, seminary or Graduate School attended.
    Applicants enrolled in university at the time of application are asked to provide a list of current and projected courses for the academic year.
  6. English language proficiency requirements
    Please, find the general requirements, test requirements and exemptions on the webpage (How to obtain a PhD position).
  7. Two recommendation letters by established scholars,
    who can write knowledgeably about your personal and academic qualifications and your suitability for the chosen field of study. We reserve the right to contact your referees for additional information pertinent to your application.
  8. A research project proposal that is supported by at least one potential supervisor at the faculty with ius promovendi (no more than four pages, c. 2000 words excluding references) which should address the following issues:
    1. a description of main research question, aims and motivation of your project;
    2. the position of the project within the (sub-)discipline (what new insights can be expected?);
    3. a brief description of the relevant literature;
    4. a motivated demarcation of the literature (if applicable);
    5. the proposed (methodological) approach;
    6. the proposed timetable for the writing of your thesis
    7. an estimate of expenses that should be expected to exceed the usual costs of travel, conference visits etc. (for example, microfilms, extended stay abroad, etc.); Please note: acceptance of a PhD proposal does not imply that research costs are covered by the UG.
    8. Who you would like to work with as your supervisor(s).
  9. (If applicable) a statement by the funding institution.

All of the above credentials are required except as stated. Applications with missing credentials will not be taken into consideration.

After submission, your application will be reviewed by the Director of the Graduate School. If it is complete, the Director will refer the application to the Board of the Centre for Religious Studies (comprised of the Dean of the Faculty, department heads and the Director of the Graduate School.). This Board meets once a month. After the meeting, the Director of the Graduate School will inform you of the result.

Last modified:28 November 2023 12.00 p.m.