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Evaluation and systematic comparison of PhD regulations in the Netherlands

The PhD Candidates Network Netherlands (Promovendi Netwerk Nederland; PNN) published a report in which the PhD regulations of fifteen Dutch universities are evaluated. To the best of PNN’s knowledge, such a systematic comparison has not been made before.

PNN concludes that PhD trajectories in the Netherlands are subject to a great deal of heterogeneity. There often exist decentralized regulations that are difficult to find. In addition, the criteria for awarding the doctoral degree are not always specified, which means that there is a chance that a PhD candidate will fail their defense without a clear cause of action or means to appeal.

Following the analysis detailed in the report, PNN has formulated four recommendations for improving the promotion regulations of institutions in the Netherlands:

  • Essential information should be included and easily accessible through the central regulations, since it is crucial for PhD candidates to know the evaluation criteria.
  • The fundamental criteria, on the basis of which it is decided whether or not to award the doctoral degree, should be more harmonized between regulations.
  • Academic institutions must explicitly record the ceremonial character of the defense in their PhD regulations. If institutions nevertheless decide that rejection is possible, clear information must be provided about possible next steps (including possibilities of appeal) in the event of a rejection.
  • Academic institutions must include elements from the national Recognition and Rewards program in their doctoral regulations or appendices.


Download the full report PhD regulations in the Netherlands.