Medicine and Health Sciences

Doing a PhD

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences attaches great importance to doctoral research. On average, there are 500 doctoral students working in the faculty's research units at any one time. Yearly, about 50 of them defend their theses.
Doing a PhD is an intensive process, in which we want to guide you as much as possible.
Here you can find an overview of the entire procedure, from your enrolment to the public defence.


​To complete your registration at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, you need to register at the university first.
Upon initial registration, you will receive a login and password. This gives you access to the student platforms and allows you to re-enrol annually as a PhD student. 
Enrolment fees only apply to the first year and the defence year, but your enrolment should still be renewed every year via SisA.
Once the PhD application is approved, the faculty puts together a PhD Commission composed of one to four supervisors, possibly a counsellor, a chair and a member. One of the supervisors should have at least a 10% Tenured Academic Personnel appointment at the University of Antwerp. The chair and member should be PhD holders and may not be involved in the research project. The faculty then assigns the research to one of the three doctoral evaluation commissions (DECs): fundamental research, clinical research and public health.


There are 2 regulations applicable:

1. the general regulations of the University of Antwerp

2. the additional regulations of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Assessment PhD research and doctoral study programme

After two or (at most) three years, you are invited to submit an extensive report and to present your research to the DEC concerned. The presentations are followed by Q&A sessions, after which the DEC gives you advice about the further development of the PhD.

In SisA, you should also refer to the activities you contribute to the doctoral programme. These activities are peer-reviewed on a yearly basis and you will get feedback, also via SisA.

Please check the appendix of the faculty regulations for the list of activities and according credits.

For more information please also check the website of the Antwerp Doctoral School (ADS).

Thesis submission and defence

TIMELINE (download)

1. You complete your doctoral study programme and you submit an electronic copy of your thesis to the secretariat which will dispatch it to each member of the PhD Commission, including supervisors and counsellors. The members then have four weeks to read the thesis and formulate comments for the chair.

Meanwhile, the chair of the PhD Commission suggests two external jury members and submits this proposal to the Commission for Scientific Research and the Faculty Board for approval. Any potential conflict of interest is checked by the chair of the PhD Commission and the secretariat.

If the members of the PhD Commission require that the doctoral thesis be adjusted, you should follow this up and then submit the revised version to the chair for approval. This revised version is also submitted electronically.

Attention! The procedure of submission is different if you started your PhD since 1 January 2019. Please check article 29 of the additional regulations. At the internal evaluation, both chair and member of the IPC should be present as well as a delegation of the supervisor team. After the internal evaluation the procedure continues from point 2.

2. After the chair of the PhD Commission gives approval for the procedure to continue, you should supply the secretariat with an electronic version of the thesis, which will then be dispatched to the external jury members, who then have six weeks to read the thesis and communicate their comments to the chair of the PhD Jury. In the meantime, the secretariat checks the availability of an auditorium, proposes dates for the defence to the jury and fixes a date as quickly as possible.

When preparing the final version of your doctoral thesis, you can contact the University of Antwerp's New Media Service for advice on layout and printing matters. The cover design of the thesis is up to you, provided certain details are clearly visible (see appendix 4 of the general PhD regulations).

Once the external jury members agree that the doctoral thesis can be published and the chair gives approval for the procedure to continue, you can go ahead with publishing the final version.
The secretariat officially invites the members of the jury to attend the defence and makes an announcement via intramail. It is up to you to organise a reception if this is something you would like to do.
No faculty budget is provided for printing theses or organising a reception and the educational credit may not be used for these purposes. It is the supervisor's responsibility to cover any costs incurred by external jury members' attendance at the defence.

3. The defence can take place after three weeks of the chair's approval to proceed, meaning that a minimum of thirteen weeks should elapse between the first submission of the PhD and its defence. If internal members of the PhD Commission or external jury members require the thesis to be adjusted, the thirteen-week period may be extended. The thirteen-week period can't be garanteed during holiday seasons.

The public defence entails a PhD presentation that lasts 35 minutes. The Q&A session after the presentation is carried out in a language that all members of the jury can understand. A maximum of two hours is provided for the presentation, Q&A, jury deliberation, degree conferral, possible eulogy from the supervisor and word of thanks from the graduate. The public defence is chaired by the Dean, Vice-Dean or a Full Professor from the faculty, though the Chair of the PhD Jury may also head the defence if necessary.

During the defence, the chair and members of the jury wear academic gowns.

The Diploma office will keep you informed on your UA student email account about when the certificate can be collected. 


In order to submit your thesis you need at least 3 first author publications: 

- A1 publications or Letters to the editor (a letter in a repository file is only eligible if it contains new unpublished data analysis and discussion) 

- 1 can be a review 

- minimum 2 publications have to be accepted and/or published

- the other publication(s) has (have) to be ready to submit and appear as such in the thesis

- if published in a top 10 journal, 2 publications will do

- shared first authorship: counts for 1 publication if used in 1 thesis, counts for ½ publication if used in 2 theses, counts for 1 publication in both theses if published in a top 10 journal. The contribution of both 1st authors has to be proven.

- case report only stands for a full article in combination with a literature review