Thursday, August 25, 2016

Q&A: PhD in Europe

Another episode in the Q&A series!

I got the following question:

I am seeking information for an Ecuadorian to do a PhD in Europe. Can you please suggest what websites to go to?

My reply was as follows:

You can check Academic Transfer which shows all positions in The Netherlands.

The best way to find a PhD position, is to have a direct contact with a professor with whom you’d like to work – it is typically their decision to hire somebody as a researcher, unlike the USA where you have to apply to a program.

My reply was a little hurried, so let me expand a bit more here.

Besides AcademicTransfer, look out for openings through the websites of universities, their Twitter accounts, and don't forget to read up on information on European projects in your field (i.e. projects with funding from the European Union; these typically extend over a number of countries and research groups).

Other websites you might want to check are Engineeroxy,, ResearchGate and LinkedIn.

And the, you need to find direct contact with a professor. You can cold-call or send an email, which is what I did. The secretary later told me that I was lucky, because about 20 people every day send an email to apply for a PhD position. Perhaps the fact that I wrote in Dutch instead of English made me stand out. Besides cold-calling or mailing, you can try to get introduced via a mutual acquaintance. Or you can attend a conference where this professor will be presenting, and try to have a quick chat with him after his talk.

Edit on 25/08/2016: Right after sharing this post on Twitter, I heard that in Germany, there exist semi-structured programs (more like the system used by the universities in the USA). These programs allow you to apply directly. An example is the PhD program in Cultural Studies from the Justus-Liebig-Universitaet Giessen.


  1. Hi Eva, The semi-structured PhD programs in Germany (few as they are) are usually called "Graduiertenkollegs". I suppose that the programs run in English (or links to them) will also appear if one googles "Graduiertenkolleg".

  2. I forgot to mention just now that a helpful website on available scholarships etc. might be that of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD):