Before the PhD defence can take place, the following 9 steps first need to be taken care of:

STEP 1: Submission of the doctoral thesis to the individual PhD commission (IPC)

You start the procedure for the public defence of the thesis by sending the appropriate number of copies of the draft thesis to the chair of the IPC. The chair is responsible for distributing the draft thesis among the other members of the IPC. (see also the general PhD regulations, art. 30 et seq)

The IPC has a maximum of four weeks to issue a written recommendation to the PhD student with respect to the draft thesis. If the individual PhD commission’s response is negative, it will inform the PhD student of its objections and remarks. If their recommendation is positive, the IPC may also formulate a limited number of suggestions for improving the draft thesis. 

STEP 2: Completing the doctoral study programme

Please note: the following faculties/institutes manage the doctoral study programme independently. Consult the administrative contact person regarding the procedure:

  • Faculty of Law;
  • Faculty of Business and Economics;
  • Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB).

The doctoral study programme needs to be completed before the composition of the doctoral jury (cf. general PhD regulations, art. 25).

Keep in mind that it can take up to 3 weeks to process your completion file.

You can complete your doctoral study programme as of the moment that your file complies with the minimum requirements of the doctoral study programme (see below). Only activities approved by the peer review commission can be mentioned on the specific certificate supplement (see STEP 7). Once your doctoral study programme is closed, it is no longer possible to add new activities.

Conditions for completing the doctoral study programme

To complete the doctoral study programme, certain minimum conditions need to be met:

  • Activities worth at least 30 points (in total) need to be proven;
  • In at least 4 categories of the competence profile, at least 1 point must be obtained;
  • At a maximum, half of the total number of points can be obtained in 1 competence category;
  • Your file meets all requirements as laid out in the faculty PhD regulations (specific requirements might apply, e.g. mandatory courses, max. points per category, etc.);
  • You provide the Antwerp Doctoral School with a clear overview of the activities undertaken AND valid supporting documents (see next paragraph).

Submitting your completion file to the Antwerp Doctoral School

If your file complies with the minimum conditions (see above) and you wish to close down your doctoral study programme, please email your complete file to

Your complete file contains:

  1. an overview of all the activities you have undertaken for the doctoral study programme (in English or Dutch; including the correct number of points and proof numbers; 
  2. a (numbered) valid proof per activity (submitted electronically via ZIP file, Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc.).

Depending on the period in which you submitted the progress reports, the process differs:

  • activities reported from academic year 2018-2019 onwards:

These activities are already accompanied by (valid) proof in SisA and have been evaluated by the peer review commission. It is not necessary to provide further proof but you need to add the activities overview to your file. Download the activities overview in SisA via 'Doctorate' > 'summary progress' > button 'Print' at the top. Add this PDF to your file.

  • activities reported in academic years 2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018:

You need to provide proof for these activities. Download the Excel activities overview in SisA via 'Doctorate' > 'manage activities' > button 'points until 17-18' and add a column titled 'Proof numbers'. You need to assign a number to each supporting document (put it in the title or indicate it clearly on the page), and put this number next to the corresponding activity in the activities overview. In case of problems, contact

  • activities reported before academic year 2015-2016:

These activities were submitted on paper at the time. You need to provide proof for these activities. You can add (the scans of) these progress reports to your file; don't forget to write the proof numbers next to the corresponding activities. In the Excel overview and the PDF overview (see SisA: 'Doctorate' > 'summary progress' > button 'Print'), you will see that some rows are called 'gegevensoverdracht' (data transfer). They contain the points for these older activities. In case of problems, contact

All supporting documents must be numbered (1, 2, 3,...) so it is very clear which supporting document belongs to which activity in your overview. If the file does not comply with the conditions, it will not be accepted for review and you will be asked to modify it.

Approval of completion

The Antwerp Doctoral School (ADS) will check your file. This process can take up to 3 weeks, so please keep that in mind when planning your defence!

After the approval of your file, you will receive a confirmation via email with an overview of the approved activities (for which sufficient proof was available). The completion of your doctoral study programme will be indicated in SisA, so the administrative contact person of your faculty/department will automatically be informed.

When your doctoral study programme is completed, you won't be able to report on it anymore in SisA.

Good to know

  • For a specific certificate supplement: if your doctoral study programme was finalized after 1 July 2016, you can only incorporate activities approved by the peer review commission AND for which you provided valid proof.
  • After completing your doctoral study programme, you can still participate in courses and use the educational credit until the end of the academic year of your thesis defence. You won't have to report on the progress of the doctoral study programme anymore, however please note that the progress report on your research is still due! (consult the faculty PhD regulations for more information)
  • Please note: if you have obtained fewer than 30 points in SisA, you will automatically receive a general certificate supplement (see STEP 7).

STEP 3: Composition of the jury

The faculty determines the composition of the doctoral jury after having verified that the PhD student is enrolled at the University of Antwerp and has completed the doctoral study programme. 

Your faculty/department also takes care of the details of your defence (time, date, location). A number of conditions for the composition of the doctoral jury need to be met which you can find in the general PhD regulations (art. 25 et seq) and also in the faculty PhD regulations. Please get in touch with the administrative contact person in your faculty/institute/department in case of questions regarding the composition of the jury.

If you defend your thesis at a different university than UAntwerp as a joint PhD, please make sure to check the provisions which were agreed upon in your individual joint PhD contract and the general PhD regulations art. 45.

STEP 4: Submission of the doctoral thesis to the jury

When the individual PhD commission (IPC) consents to the submission of the thesis, the PhD student sends a sufficient number of copies of the draft of the PhD thesis, along with a written application to defend the thesis publicly, to the chair of the doctoral jury. You should also contact the administrative contact person of your faculty/department/institute to obtain more information regarding the practical procedure in force. Unless stipulated otherwise by your faculty or department, you are required to provide one copy of your thesis for each jury member.

When submitting the draft version of your thesis, remember to fill in the 'Checklist confidentiality doctoral thesis' and send it to the contacts listed on the form.
If you are doing a PhD in the Faculty of Science ('doctor of Science'), then remember to fill in the form 'Arranging the defence' and send it to
Get in touch with the administrative contact person in your faculty/department to find out more about the specific process.

The jury then has six weeks to decide whether you can go ahead with the public defence of your thesis. Some faculties/departments also organise a pre-defence during this period (see STEP 5). Consult your faculty PhD regulations to see whether this is the case in your faculty/institute/department or contact the administrative contact person. In most faculties a pre-defence is standaard except for the faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Arts.

If you defend your thesis at a different university than UAntwerp as a joint PhD, please make sure to check the provisions which were agreed upon in your individual joint PhD contract and the general PhD regulations, art. 45.

STEP 5: Possible pre-defence and organisation of public defence

The pre-defence is a presentation of the research on a technical level. The difference with the public defence is that the pre-defence is only accessible for the jury.

After a (relatively short) presentation, a discussion about the research starts. This means that it is not a question-and-answer conversation like during the public defence.

After the discussion the PhD candidate is asked to leave the room and the jury deliberates. They will immediately come to a decision at that point and will make it known:

  • the thesis will be accepted for the public defence without any amendments;
  • the thesis will be accepted for public defence with small amendments: in that case the supervisor follows up on the corrections;
  • the thesis will be accepted for public defence with big amendments: in this case the whole jury follows up on the corrections;
  • very extensive amendments: after the thesis is adapted the jury will asses the thesis again and a second pre-defence will be scheduled.

Consult the faculty PhD regulations to verify whether a pre-defence is applicable within your faculty/institute and to find more information on the specifics.

STEP 6: Announcement of the defence

The public defence can take place no earlier than three weeks after the doctoral jury’s decision has been communicated to the Registrar’s Office by the PhD student. A date must be selected for the defence within six weeks of the communication of the jury’s decision. The public defence should take place within a reasonable time period. This period excludes the UAntwerp holiday periods listed in the academic calendar and any maternity or parental leave taken by the PhD student. No public defences can take place between 20 July and 20 August (cf. general PhD regulations, art. 34 et seq.).

As soon as the date of your public defence is known, the following steps need to be taken care of:

1. To announce the defence, the form 'Information regarding the defence of the PhD thesis' should be filled in at least three weeks before the public defence and submitted to all contacts mentioned on the form itself.

  • On the form you indicate whether you wish to obtain a general or specific certificate supplementMore information can be found in STEP 7.
  • The form also asks you to provide an abstract of your doctoral thesis (in Dutch and in English).
  • The announcement of your public defence will be published in the digital calendar of UAntwerp.

2. Moreover, you need to fill in and sign the form 'Checklist confidentiality doctoral thesis'. An original signature of your supervisor is also required. A scan of this document should be emailed to Franç An original signature from your supervisor is required.

3. For the further organisation of your public defence (reservation of the room, invitations, reception, etc.), please contact the administrative contact person of your faculty/department.

STEP 7: Processing the announcement and preparing the certificate supplement

Processing the announcement

After the submission of the form (see STEP 6), your enrolment in the academic year of the PhD defence will be verified. The Registrar's Office will also contact you to arrange the payment of any outstanding tuition fees for the year of your defence.  

Furthermore, the Antwerp Doctoral School will prepare the supplement to the certificate for the doctoral study programme. (The finalisation of your doctoral study programme is ratified by a certificate accompanied by a certificate supplement.) It is signed by the head of the Antwerp Doctoral School and the coordinator of the doctoral study programme of your faculty. After the certificate supplement is fully signed, it is sent to the diploma administration to be added to your diploma file. When your diploma file is ready, the diploma administration (Tine Leonard) will contact you. More info can be found in PHASE 5.

The certificate (and certificate supplement) for the doctoral programme is always obtained in combination with a PhD diploma

General or specific certificate supplement

The following procedure doesn't apply for PhD students of the faculties of Law or Business and Economics.; please contact the administrative contact person of your faculty regarding the procedure.

You can choose between a general or a specific certificate supplement. Usually a general supplement is chosen. Only in specific situations it may be useful to choose a specific supplement. To let us know your choice, you have to check the according box on the form 'Information regarding the defence of the PhD thesis'.

Please note: if you have obtained fewer than 30 points in SisA via the peer review commission, you will automatically receive a general supplement.

a. General supplement
The general supplement will provide a general description of the competences (the seven categories of the competence profile). You cannot mention individual activities on this type of supplement.

b. Specific supplement
This supplement offers you the possibility to draw up a profile based on (a selection of) the activities you engaged in as part of the doctoral study programme. So, both the general description of the competences given in the competence profile and a list of the selected individual activities are mentioned. You need to provide the activities list (selection) to the Antwerp Doctoral School following the guidelines explained below.

Please note:

  • Only activities which (1) were approved by the annual peer review commission and (2) were accompanied by a valid supporting document (proof) at the time when your doctoral study programme file was closed (completed), can be included in this supplement.
  • Exception: In case you have already completed your doctoral study programme before 1 July 2016 it is possible to add extra activities in accordance with the faculty regulations. Send us a motivation and valid extra proof before you defend your PhD.

Guidelines for layout of the specific certificate supplement

If you wish to obtain a specific supplement, you need to provide a list of the activities you want to mention on your supplement.

Send your list, together with the form 'Information regarding the defence of the PhD thesis' to
On the form you need to indicate your request for a specific supplement on the second page.

Please take the conditions (mentioned below) into account with regard to the layout of the list and with regard to the activities that can be mentioned.

1. Conditions for the layout

  • as a Word document
  • as a list
  • with sub-sections (see examples)
  • font: Tahoma
  • font size: 9
  • titles: bold, not underlined
  • length: max. 49 lines (this includes titles!)

A few examples that you can download and use: 

The layout of the text may be changed by the Antwerp Doctoral School depending on the certificate supplement's layout.

2. Conditions for activities mentioned on the specific certificate supplement

Not just any activity can be mentioned on the specific certificate supplement. The following needs to be taken into account:

  1. Only activities that were approved in your doctoral study programme completion file (= approved by the annual peer review commission AND for which you provided valid proof) are eligible. On the document which is sent to you by the Antwerp Doctoral School upon completion of the doctoral study programme, these activities will be highlighted in green or yellow.Activities highlighted in blue (or not highlighted at all) cannot be mentioned on your supplement, seeing as these were either not approved by the annual peer review commission or/and not proven.
  2. If you have already completed your doctoral study programme before 01/07/2016, it is possible to add extra activities in accordance with the faculty regulations. You will need to send a motivation and send us valid proof.
  3. You decide how detailed the descriptions of the activities are, but please keep the conditions for the layout in mind (see above).

STEP 8: Submission of the thesis to the Central Library Office (digitally + on paper)

Your doctoral thesis has to be submitted to the Central Library Office of UAntwerp. The procedure set out for this purpose can be found here. At least 2 hard copies as well as the digital version need to be submitted on time. The digital version should be sent in pdf format to the Library Helpdesk prior to the defense. Apart from the deposit of the pdf you have to sent the following information:

  • date of defense
  • abstract (in English, max. 400 words)
  • availability option
    • you and your promotor(s) agree to make the thesis open access
    • you and your promotor(s) agree to make the thesis open access  after an embargo period
    • you and your promotor(s) agree to limit the availability to the closed network of the University of Antwerp

​Practical questions about this should be discussed with the administrative contact of your faculty/institute.

STEP 9: Public defence

It's time: the day of your public PhD defence has finally arrived!
Everything has been prepared, the catering is ready and the audience members arrive...

First of all an annoucement will be made, after which the jury and you will enter the room in a procession.

Next, you are expected to give a presentation on your doctoral research. This is followed by a question-and-answer round where the jury asks the questions.

Afterwards, the jury will go to another room to deliberate. When they have reached a decision, they come back in and make their decision public. They will let you know whether you passed the doctoral exam (grades are not awarded for PhDs).

If the result is positive, your supervisor wild hold a laudatio and you are expected to say a word of thanks.
Now the official part is over, and the reception can begin!

Congratulations, you have now obtained the degree of Doctor!

Read here the latest corona measures regarding the organization of PhD defences.