How to find a PhD position

Gepubliceerd op 12 mei 2023 om 10:58

You received your Masters degree. You think science is incredibly interesting, your thesis was actually kind of fun to write and the statistics part was not as scary as you had expected. You have made a decision: you are going to become a researcher! Great! But how exactly do you become a researcher? If you really want to work as a researcher, there is only one logical step after you received your Masters degree: getting your PhD. But how exactly do you find a PhD position?


Job searching websites

One convenient website is This employment website is specifically aimed at job opportunities in the academic world. You can indicate that you are looking for a PhD position in a certain field, such as behaviour and social sciences, economy, health or physical sciences. You can also use keywords to search for specific research topics that you are interested in. This website shows PhD positions in- and outside of the Netherlands. Many of the PhD positions in the Netherlands will most likely appear on general job searching websites as well.


Workin at - pages

Another tip is to directly search the websites of universities, academic institutions and other organizations offering PhD positions. These often have specific pages with job listings. If you would like to work in a specific field or for a specific organization, this is often the quickest way to check if they have PhD positions available that are suitable for you.



Networking is always a good idea as well. Useful contacts in your field may be able to direct you towards interesting PhD positions within their own network. When someone knows you from their own network, for example through a positive internship or thesis-experience, you often have an advantage when you apply for a job. This will increase your chances of being invited for a job interview. Another good way to make connections is to visit conferences and symposia about topics that you find interesting. The visitors and speakers at these conferences are often useful contacts, whom you can address during breaks and drinks afterwards. Anno 2023, digital networking through websites such as LinkedIn cannot be absent from this list. This is an easy way to approach and connect with people from the field of work that you would like to work in.


Getting your own grant

Some universities have programs where you can write an internal research grant for a PhD position, while you are doing a Research Master. In this case, you are basically already doing the groundwork for your PhD during your Masters degree. If you receive the grant, you will move straight into a PhD position after you have finished your Masters. If you have a good idea about a research topic, you can also try to write a research proposal for an external grant in collaboration with researchers who already have their PhD. The benefit is that you do not have to apply for the job anymore, but the downside is that this is generally quite a long process.


What if you already have a job?

Say you already have a job, but your research ambitions are suddenly (re)surfacing. How do you go from there? If you would like to obtain your PhD within the field you are already working at, a good first step would be to talk to your manager. Let them know that you have the ambition to get your PhD and explore whether there are any possibilities within your current job and organization. Perhaps there are internal paths to follow, or you could try to create your own PhD position through an external grant.


Is there a golden tip?

Honestly? Not really. One advice we would like to give you is to put your time studying at the university to good use. Your internships and thesis may be mandatory parts of your education, but you should also view them as opportunities for the future. By showing dedication and delivering good work, you can make a good impression on people who may be able to help you get a job later. Do not underestimate the effect of a good impression, even though you feel like you are still “just” a student!


Anecdotal evidence (n=2)

Jojanneke had left a good impression on her thesis supervisor by writing a good thesis. Through her supervisor, she was offered a temporary position as junior researcher after she graduated, for one concrete research assignment. Within that assignment, more and more research ideas came into existence, after which her job appointment was extended. Suddenly, half a PhD thesis was already written! It was then agreed to make it an official PhD project and (how awesome!) her original thesis supervisor became her first promotor.


Stynke was offered a PhD position after she finished her Sociology study, on the topic of her Master thesis. However, the topic of this position was just not the greatest fit with her interests. That is why she chose a research job in psychiatry, as research coordinator at the psychosis department of the UMCG. This position strengthened her interest in doing research and awakened her interest in the topic of peer support. She then created her own PhD position on this topic through an external grant.


So keep in mind that there are many different pathways to a PhD position!


Do you have any additional advice? Did you get your PhD position in an unusual way? Let us know in the comments or send us a message through the contact page!


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Getaneh Baye Mulu
een jaar geleden

I am Getaneh Baye Mulu master of sciences in pediatrics and child health Addis Ababa university, and research masters in clinical and psychosocial epidemiology university of Groningen the Netherlands. I want a PhD position in Epidemiology, public health focusing maternal and child health.