Students must have a Master's degree in order to be eligible to carry out doctoral research. In essence, doctoral research entails in-depth study of a particular subject for four years and writing a thesis on this research that must then be defended before a committee of expert scholars. Successful PhD students are subsequently granted the title Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) of Doctor (Dr).
A PhD project consists of independent research supervised by a professor (the supervisor) who has consented to give their assistance. PhD students immerse themselves in their research and also have opportunities to attend and give lectures. There are various ways to earn a doctorate in the Netherlands. Universities and other research institutes can appoint PhD students to full or part-time positions as employees, with combined work-study (duaal) programmes also offered. In the Netherlands, PhD students tend to be recruited by universities and research institutes. They have fixed-term appointments, receive salaries and pay social insurance contributions. This means they build an employment history, which is important in the event of future disability or unemployment and retirement.
It goes without saying that scientific research cannot be carried out without funding. The financial resources for research in the Netherlands are provided by the government, industry and various organizations, including foundations. Funds for research are divided into three main 'flows of funds' (geldstromen). The first flow of funds consists of funds provided by the government directly to Dutch universities. The second flow of funds is provided by the government to agencies such as the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), which in turn provide grants to researchers and research institutes. The third flow of funds consists of funds provided by European-level institutions, businesses, civil society organizations and private institutes.
For the majority of PhD students, all or at least part of the financing of their doctorate and the research costs is arranged in advance. In some cases, however, they have to apply for a grant to fund their own research project. In addition to research grants, it is also possible to apply for grants for temporary residence and research abroad, for the organization of research meetings and to attend conferences.