What is a PhD? What profile is required to start a PhD? When and where should students apply?


What are doctoral studies?

Doctoral studies are based on research and teach how to conduct research. They are the third tier of academic studies, leading to the title of doctor.
This high-level programme is divided into two parts:

  • doctoral training
  • research work proper

Research work and the thesis are together worth 180 credits. They are overseen by your PhD supervisor, possibly with a co-supervisor.
The doctoral training programme is worth 60 credits. In order to be awarded the title of doctor, you must complete the doctoral training programme. This will earn you a research training certificate (‘certificat de formation à la recherche’).
The goal of a PhD programme is to gradually teach you to become an autonomous researcher, able to define and carry out your research projects independently, while always being advised and supported by your supervisor(s).

What profile for doctoral candidates?

  • You wish to spend several years contributing to building scientific knowledge.
  • You enjoyed successfully completing your first research projects and your master’s dissertation.
  • You are inquisitive, autonomous, and proactive.
  • You enjoy working alone as well as within a team; even though a PhD thesis is a personal project, you will join a research centre and collaborate with other researchers from ULB and other universities.

Workshops and information sessions

Several times a year, ULB hosts information sessions and workshops dedicated to doctoral studies. The main events for prospective PhD students are:

Red bullet  Atelier AvanThèse

Are you at the end of a master programme at ULB and looking into a PhD? This workshop deals with the specificities of doctoral studies, careers in research, and the added value of a PhD for your professional project.
This workshop is organised once a year, in automn, in French.
Learn more

Red bullet  SIMA

The information session on master and PhD programmes is hosted once a year, in spring. In 2023, it took place on Friday 21 April from 3 to 6 pm (general presentation on the PhD cycle at ULB from 4 to 4:45 pm).
Listen again to Bibiane Fréché's presentation made during the 2020 edition (at the top of the page) or read the slides from the 2023 edition here: 

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Red bullet  Forum ON!

The forum ON!, dedicated to first jobs, provides information on careers in research as well as on doctoral studies. It took place on the 17th of October 2023 at the building S of the Solbosch campus.

The 2023 presentation (in French) of the Postgraduate Unit: "Une carrière scientifique : 'Graal' inaccessible ou perspective réaliste ?" is available here: 

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Updated on October 25, 2023