Illustratie: Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

Utrecht has the quickest PhD candidates


PhD candidates from Utrecht University write their dissertation quite quickly: they are a year faster than those candidates of Erasmus University and VU University Amsterdam.

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On average, PhD candidates spend about five years obtaining the doctor's degree, according to new figures from the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). Only a small group (14 percent) reaches the finish line within four years.

But it differs quite a lot per university. In Utrecht, PhD candidates are half a year faster than average, while at VU University Amsterdam and the Erasmus University they need extra time instead?.

Duration of PhD


© HOP. Duration of PhD in months. Source: VSNU. UvA: no data for 2017

In addition, few Utrecht PhD candidates are dropping out. More than eighty percent completed the dissertation within seven years. Only Maastricht University has a higher percentage. On the other side of the spectrum are - again - Erasmus University and VU University Amsterdam.


Obtained PhD within 7 years


© HOP. Source: VSNU. Inflow of PhD candidates 2010. Excl. UvA.

Moreover, for the first time in years, the number of PhDs at Dutch universities has declined again. In 2017, exactly 4,731 PhD candidates earned the doctor's degree. That is more than two hundred fewer than the year before. For years these numbers used to increase.

Number of dissertations

aantal dissertaties.jpg

© HOP. Source: VSNU.

The work of external PhD candidates also counts in the total number of promotions. They are not employed by a university and write their dissertation in their own time. Only the standard PhD candidates are included in the figures on the PhD duration and the return.


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