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

Please note: the procedure for announcing the public defence and submitting the PhD thesis to the Library has changed. More info in steps 6 and 8.

Make sure to contact the Antwerp Doctoral School at least 3 weeks beforehand, because processing your file takes time.

STEP 1: Completing the doctoral study programme


The doctoral study programme must be completed before the composition of the doctoral jury (cf. general PhD regulations, art. 25). You can complete your doctoral study programme when your file meets the minimum requirements of the doctoral study programme. 

Keep in mind that it can take up to 3 weeks to process your completion file, and make sure to contact the Antwerp Doctoral School on time.

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

  • Faculty of Law;
  • Faculty of Business and Economics;
  • Institute of Development Policy.

When your completion file has been approved, you will receive an e-mail with a link to the exit poll. In this poll, we query you about your experiences during your PhD and where you potentially see room for improvement. By filling out this exit poll, you help us to make informed policy decisions and to further improve the PhD trajectory for your fellow PhD researchers.

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 additional specific requirements as laid out in the faculty PhD regulations (e.g. mandatory courses, max. points per category, etc.);
  • The compulsory training 'Mind the GAP' was successfully completed and the participation certificate was delivered as proof (only applicable for PhD researchers that started their PhD in academic year 2022-2023 or later);
  • Your completion file is in order (see below).

Submitting your completion file to the Antwerp Doctoral School

Email your complete file to

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

  • activities reported from academic year 2018-2019 onwards:

Download your activities overview in SisA via 'ePhD' > 'Doctoral training' > 'my doctoral training' > button 'Print' at the top. Email this PDF file to the Antwerp Doctoral School. These activities were approved and sufficient proof has been provided in SisA.

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

You need to provide proof for these activities. Download the Excel overview in SisA via 'ePhD' > 'Doctoral training' > 'manage activities' > button 'points until 17-18' and add a new column 'Proof number'. Assign a number to each of your supporting documents and put this number next to the corresponding activity in the activities overview.

  • 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; assign a number to each of your supporting documents and put this proof number next to the corresponding activity in the overview. In the Excel overview and the PDF overview (see SisA: 'ePhD' > 'Doctoral training' > 'my doctoral training' > button 'Print'), you will find the points for these older activities under 'gegevensoverdracht' (data transfer).

If your file does not comply with the conditions, it will not be accepted for review and you will be asked to modify it. In case additional proof needs to be provided, it must be very clear which supporting document belongs to which activity in your overview. The supporting documents must be submitted electronically via email (ZIP file), Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc.

Approval of completion

The Antwerp Doctoral School (ADS) will check your file within 3 weeks. Please keep this in mind when planning your defence!

If your file is approved, 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 is then indicated in SisA. When your doctoral study programme is completed, you can't add or report any activities anymore in SisA.

Good to know

After completing your doctoral study programme, you can still participate in courses and use the educational credit until the end of the academic year in which your public PhD defence takes place. You won't have to report on your doctoral study programme anymore. However, the progress report on your research is still due.

STEP 2: Submission of the doctoral thesis to the individual PhD commission (IPC) + confidentiality checklist

Send 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 researcher with respect to the draft thesis. If the individual PhD commission’s response is negative, it will inform the PhD researcher 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. 

Upload at the latest when submitting the first draft thesis to the IPC the completed and signed 'confidentiality checklist' (with an original (digital) signature of your supervisor!) via the tile 'Requests' in SisA (New Request > PhD doctoral thesis > Submit confidentiality checklist). The PDF form will then automatically be sent to the Valorisation Office and the faculty/department doctoral administration. As soon as the form is submitted, the milestone 'Arranging confidentiality' in ePhD will automatically be completed. As long as the confidentiality checklist is not submitted, it will be impossible to submit an application for the announcement of your public defence.

While submitting the checklist confidentiality, you will be asked to indicate whether your doctoral thesis is confidential or not. If your doctoral thesis contains confidential information and you answer 'Yes' to this question, then the choice regarding the availability of your thesis will automatically be set at 'no access – confidential' in ePhD. You will see this when you submit your doctoral thesis in SisA. If this needs to be changed later on (e.g. if a mistake was made and the thesis does not contain any confidential data after all), then the faculty doctoral administration can change this.

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.

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 doctoral 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 standard.

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 doctoral jury.

After a (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 doctoral 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 doctoral jury follows up on the corrections;
  • very extensive amendments: after the thesis is adapted the doctoral 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 public 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:

  • Announce the defence at least three weeks beforehand via your SisA Self-service account (see helpdesk for more information). Please note: when you announce your public PhD defence, a pop-up will appear asking you to confirm whether your thesis title and full name are correct. Make sure that you check these carefully, because this information will appear on your diploma and it is not possible to change it afterwards.
  • The announcement of your public defence will be published in the digital calendar of UAntwerp. You may need to provide an abstract of your doctoral thesis (in English and Dutch). Please follow the faculty guidelines.
  • For the further organisation of your public defence (reservation of the room, invitations, reception, etc.), contact the administrative contact person of your faculty/department.

STEP 7: Processing the announcement and preparing the certificate supplement

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. This supplement provides a general description of the competences (the seven categories of the competence profile). It is created for each PhD researcher individually (by name) and clearly states that you have successfully completed the doctoral study programme. 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. More info can be found in After the defence

You can download an overview of your specific activities via the SisA self-service (see STEP 2: Completing the doctoral study programme).

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

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

Your doctoral thesis has to be submitted to the Library Office of University of Antwerp (see procedure). At least 2 hard copies as well as the digital version need to be submitted in a timely manner. 

Please note: the digital version of PhD theses has to be submitted via a new procedure in ePhD (via your SisA Self-service student account). Consult the Helpdesk for more information.

​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 doctoral 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 doctoral 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!

The latest corona measures regarding the organization of PhD defences can be found here.

VIDEO: Towards the end of your PhD trajectory