Information for potential PhD candidates at ELS

Thank you for showing your interest in a PhD project at the Education and Learning Sciences (ELS) group of Wageningen University & Research. ELS has formulated several steps for the procedure to apply for a PhD position and corresponding entry requirements in line with the minimum requirements for becoming a PhD candidate in the Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS).

Applying for a PhD position at ELS

To apply for a PhD position at ELS, the following procedural steps should be taken:

  1. The candidate should send his/her first ideas with respect to the topic and research design of the PhD project, the funding option(s), and CV to the intended ELS promotor;
  2. The intended promotor should plan an intake interview with the candidate (and other intended supervisors) to discuss first PhD project ideas, funding option(s), CV, etc.;
  3. The candidate should submit a draft PhD proposal, discuss this with the intended supervisors and revise the draft PhD proposal based on the provided feedback;
  4. The intended supervisors should decide on acceptance of the PhD candidate based on the intake interview and the revised draft PhD proposal;
  5. The formal admission procedure by the Liaison Office starts after acceptance of the PhD candidate by ELS. As part of this procedure, the proof of funding and the level of training and English proficiency of the candidate will be checked;
  6. The candidate should arrange accommodation in Wageningen (if the candidate comes from abroad) and plan the start of the project together with the Liaison Office and the supervisors.

Specific requirements

The steps mentioned above correspond with the following specific requirements:

  1. Possible PhD candidates are invited by ELS to send their first ideas with respect to the PhD project, the funding option(s), and their CV to the intended ELS promotor. Intended ELS promotors could be an ELS Professor (Prof.dr. Perry den Brok or Prof.dr. Arjen Wals) or an Associate Professor (Dr. Piety Runhaar or Dr. Harm Biemans).
  2. The intake procedure with the candidate is aimed at exploring the candidate’s initial ideas on the PhD project, funding option(s), CV, motivation, and personality. The intake procedure should consist of (at least) one (online) interview with the candidate supported by other information sources (elaborate cv, motivation letter, publications, products, etc.).
  3. The draft PhD project proposal should give a clear and qualitatively sufficient impression of the intended project in terms of problem statement, theoretical background, research questions and corresponding sub-studies with methodology, planning, and intended output. The topic of the draft PhD project proposal should be in line with the ELS research programme (ELS research programme) and should be innovative. PhD projects tend to have a duration of four years and dissertations, typically, consist of a series of four articles, to be submitted/accepted by international peer-reviewed journals. The process of composing the PhD project proposal starts with a few pages describing the problem, the research questions and a tentative design. Via conversation this will be developed into a more full-fledged proposal. When there is initial approval for this document by the supervisors, ELS may engage in further steps in the admittance process.
  4. The candidate should officially be accepted by ELS as a PhD candidate. This means that the intended one of the above-mentioned ELS (Associate) Professors (see point 1) agrees to act as promotor and that at least one intended co-promotor will be assigned (either within or outside ELS). Decision on acceptance is made based on an intake procedure with the candidate (see requirement 2) and a draft PhD project proposal (see requirement 3).
  5. The candidate should have proof of sufficient funding for research time, research activities, housing, residence permit, visa, insurance, etc., either from a grant or their local/home employer. The possibilities for PhD candidates to acquire funding from ELS or WASS (see for WASS options: applying for a PhD position) are very limited, so applicants should arrange their own funding to be accepted as a PhD candidate. ELS or WASS will not assist in finding funding nor will they provide funding (except for announced vacancies for PhD candidates).

Without such resources, it is impossible for candidates to be admitted or start. Of course, a support letter can be provided that ELS intends to receive a candidate, but such a letter is no formal admittance document, and typically is only given if there is clarity about some of the other requirements, such as mentioned previously and subsequently. After admittance, ELS will cover any professional development or schooling activities, a desk/office/account, supervision costs, printing of the dissertation, etc.

The candidate should have sufficient level of training and English proficiency, as indicated by:

Also see entry requirements PhD programme.

Applying for a PhD position at ELS

One way to obtain a PhD position at ELS is to apply for a vacant position on a PhD project. Vacancies are posted on:

If you wish to do a PhD at ELS but there are no vacancies in your field of interest, you should provide for your own project funding. Funding is needed for (1) the university tuition fee (2) the departmental research fee, and (3) the costs of living while residing in the Netherlands. ELS does not assist in finding sources of funding, but you can find more information on funding possibilities via this link.

Open application

Required documents in case of an open application:

  1. A letter motivating your application
  2. A preliminary research proposal (approximately two A4) that includes: a. A problem definition (including the innovative character) b. Research questions c. The proposed methodology linked to the research questions d. Up-to-date literature references
  3. Curriculum Vitae, including information about your education, research experience and a list of publications. Please make sure that your Curriculum Vitae shows your present email- and home/postal address.
  4. Photo copy of your diploma(s) of higher education (Bachelor and Master, or equivalent), including the Transcript of Academic Records (courses followed and grades obtained). Documents must be submitted in the original language. If not in English, Dutch, French, German, Spanish or Afrikaans an official English translation is required as well. If no Master’s degree is held, or the Master’s degree does not allow admission to the PhD programme, other relevant higher educational diplomas and/or proof of expertise must be presented.
  5. References (not compulsory but recommended) from at least two supervisors/professors, with information on your performance in the Master program and your prospects for finishing a PhD in the area of application.
  6. Photocopy of your valid passport: ALL written and stamped pages, so also the pages with previous obtained visa and travel stamps.
  7. Proficiency test in the English language: If you are not Dutch, from a non-Anglophone country and you have not completed your higher education with English as the language of instruction, you have to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language.
  8. PhD candidate information form, available through the SSG Liaison Office.
  9. Information on funding via form Liaison Office and/or copy of sponsor letter.

Liaison Office

After ELS has accepted a prospective PhD candidate (see requirement 1 above), the formal admission procedure proceeds via the Liaison Office, who checks finances, diploma and language level, and who creates a contract between the PhD candidate and the ELS chair group. Ultimately, the admission procedure ends via the graduate school WASS, who checks the quality of the research proposal and the availability of a Training and Supervision Plan (TSP). In case the PhD candidate is able to start, after one year a go-no go decision has to be made by the supervising team in consultation with the candidate.