Homepage Contacts Campus maps
pages phonebook

PhDs and doctoral training

Like doing scientific research?

Got your MA and want to carry on at university?

Want to contribute to research and development and innovation in Europe?

The Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is a top address for doing your PhD.

Our university is at the forefront of scientific research, belonging to the top international research networks. The ULB has a long tradition of doctoral training, providing a very high quality environment for its PhD students.

Doing your PhD thesis at the ULB will give your career prospects a significant boost, in both the academic and the non-academic world.

Practical steps

A PhD thesis is done under the supervision of a thesis supervisor. It consists of a coursework component and an original research and compilation component.

Research subject and thesis supervisor

You need to get into contact with a research promoter, defining your PhD research subject in coordination with him/her.

Admission and registration

Admission to the PhD thesis programme operates on the basis of an application file. To take part, you need to be in possession of:

  • a second cycle degree (MA) with 300 ECTS credits (or if belonging to the French Community of Belgium: a “Licence” or an “MA120”)

  • a second cycle degree valued at 300 ECTS by the selection panel (if outside the French Community of Belgium)

Admission forms

Registration fees amount to a total of EUR 835 (subject to modification).

The registration deadline is 1 December.

Doctoral training

The PhD coursework programme is a flexible programme adapted to the needs of the PhD students. Its content is proposed by the PhD student’s support committee to the faculty examination board, which then endorses it.

PhD coursework must consist of a minimum of 60 ECTS credits. It can take many forms: participation in activities of Doctoral Schools, scientific coursework in the form of seminars and courses, participation and papers at conferences and congresses, publications, teaching activities; compiling reports on the status of your research, attendance at summer schools, etc.

List of Doctoral Schools in the French Community of Belgium: FNRS

At the end of the PhD coursework, a Certificat de formation à la recherché is awarded to the PhD student.

PhD thesis

The research work and the actual writing of the PhD thesis carry a minimum of 180 ECTS credits.

In addition to your thesis supervisor, your thesis work is also monitored by a support committee appointed by the faculty examination panel one year after admission at the latest.

The support committee proposes a programme of PhD coursework to the examination panel, which then endorses it. It monitors work progress and gives its approval for re-registration from one year to the next.


Re-registration needs to be done each academic year.

It requires the signature of the promoter, the chairman of the support committee and the Dean.

Re-registration fees amount to EUR 32.

Re-registration form

Thesis deposit and defence

Theses are deposited at the Faculty where you do your PhD. Deposit automatically involves filing in Bictel, the university database for theses. You may include the full text, provided you have the consent of the parties concerned. The summary and table of contents are mandatory.

The examination board is appointed one month after filing at the latest. The defence takes place at least one month after the appointment of the examination board and at most two months later. There is usually a private defence and public defence. No defences take place between July 15 and August 15.

Issuance of the diploma and the defence report

After signing by the members of the faculty examination board, the recipient and the Rector, the diploma is issued together with the report on the defence of the thesis.

Joint supervision of a PhD thesis (cotutelle de thèse)

With joint supervision, there are two universities involved in the organisation and supervision of the preparatory research work for a PhD thesis. Joint supervision can be interesting in terms of the mobility and the international experience it can provide, or access to an even more challenging scientific environment. In such cases, it is however necessary that part of the PhD coursework and/or the research work is done in the two universities. Joint supervision allows a PhD student to obtain, in accordance with the legislation governing the partner universities, either a joint diploma or two diplomas, with just a single defence.

Steps to be followed

Decide with your promoter and/or support committee the usefulness of joint supervision.

Select and contact a co-promoter at another university.

Prepare and sign a joint supervision agreement. A promoter wanting to set up a joint supervision agreement should contact the Research Department which is responsible for managing such agreements.

Practical information:

Information relating to the joined supervision of a doctoral thesis

Sample agreement for joint supervision

Joint supervision applications are managed by the Research Department.

If you have additional questions contact:


Dpt Rech, Cellule Recherche

tel 02 650 2353, fax 02 650 2321,

Campus du Solbosch

ULB CP161, avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, 1050 Bruxelles