How to become a doctoral candidate

At Radboud University, there are several ways you can start a PhD programme. On this page, you can find information about the various options:

Employed PhD candidate

As an employed PhD candidate, you will have an employment contract. You will receive a salary from the university or from Radboudumc and will be entitled to the same terms of employment as other staff members. Employed PhD candidates fall under a different set of salary scales, namely P0, P1, P2 and P3.

A full-time employed PhD programme usually lasts four years. Alongside conducting research and writing your PhD thesis, you will also spend time on your own development (e.g. by following courses) and on teaching.

How to apply

You can become an employed PhD candidate by applying for one of the PhD vacancies on our website.

Take a look at our vacancies

Employee-PhD candidate 

Within some positions at Radboud University and Radboudumc, you can agree to conduct PhD research. As an employee in PhD track, you have the same rights and obligations as an employed PhD candidate, but your allocation of time between research and other tasks may vary.

How to apply

Are you already a RU or Radboudumc staff member, but have ambitions to follow a PhD? Then contact your supervisor and the graduate school of your respective field to discover the opportunities.

Externally funded PhD candidate

As an externally funded PhD candidate, you won’t have an employment contract with RU or Radboudumc, but your PhD programme will be made possible via a different trajectory. Externally funded PhD candidates are often allocated time by another employer to pursue a PhD programme. If you have received a grant from an international grant provider, you are not categorised as an externally funded PhD candidate but as a scholarship PhD candidate.

How to apply

If you wish to pursue a PhD programme alongside a paid job, your employer may have a vested interest in your PhD research. In that case, your employer may be able to facilitate you in this, for instance by allocating you paid leave or permitting you to work on your PhD research in your work hours. Discuss the options with your employer at an early stage.

Scholarship PhD candidate

As a scholarship PhD candidate, your research will be financed by a foreign grant, most of which apply for four years. You will not become a RU or Radboudumc employee but will be able to make use of the facilities. Radboud University does not award any grants to scholarship PhD candidates itself.


In a number of cases, grants awarded by foreign grant providers may not be sufficient to cover the costs of scholarship PhD candidates. That is why Radboud University decided that, as from 1 September 2023, a contribution of up to €1,700 must be paid towards the costs of new scholarship PhD candidates. Read more about this scheme.

External PhD candidate

As an external PhD candidate, you will not receive a salary or be eligible for other terms of employment at Radboud University. Many external PhD candidates conduct their PhD research alongside paid employment. The basis for a PhD programme usually comprises a research proposal that is assessed on feasibility and quality, and a researcher who is prepared to act as the PhD supervisor.

How to apply

Are you interested in starting a PhD programme as an external PhD candidate? Then we would be glad to refer you to the graduate school of your respective field. The graduate school will be able to provide you with more information on the entry opportunities for external PhD candidates.


For general information about obtaining a PhD at Radboud University, please contact a staff member from the relevant faculty