The organisation of doctoral-level studies

map eu belgiumUniversities and research bodies offer doctoral-level programmes. Doctoral candidates are affiliated to research units, research teams, doctoral departments, faculties / institutes and graduate schools. They are members of a research team (within a university) affiliated to a thematic graduate school. The thematic and interuniversity graduate schools are associated in graduate colleges attached to the Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS). Twenty graduate colleges (écoles doctorales) are in charge of hosting, coordinating and promoting the creation of thematic, interuniversity, interdisciplinary and international graduate schools. Currently there are fifty recognised graduate schools.

The doctorate comprises two parts:

− Doctoral training (60 ECTS credits) that leads to the conferral of a research training certificate

− Work relating to the preparation of a doctoral thesis (corresponding to at least 120 ECTS), that leads to the conferral of the academic title of doctor after defending the thesis

Doctoral programmes last a minimum of three years. However, the average length is five years or more.

Doctoral candidates are systematically assigned a supervisor. Doctoral candidates must choose a supervisor according to the research area they wish to work in. The supervisor, who is a doctoral degree holder, has to be a member of the academic or scientific staff of the university. The supervisor guides doctoral candidates throughout their doctoral programme, helps candidates to define or redefine their research project and examines the feasibility of the project as well as various financing opportunities

Doctoral candidates have to follow compulsory courses.

Doctoral candidates are members of a research team within a university, a setting that gives them the opportunity to carry out practical professional experience. Through doctoral training, research activities and internships, doctoral candidates are introduced to various career opportunities in fields such as academia, industry or the public sector / government.

The structure of doctoral studies in general and of graduate schools and colleges in particular fosters a clear focus on interdisciplinary research. Transversal training that can be developed with the private sector within graduate colleges is also supported. Employment services are also set up within universities in order to help students and doctoral candidates to plan their professional career, starting by identifying career opportunities.

For further information:


Implemented by:
CampusFrance DAAD European Community
Nuffic British Council Eurodoc IIE