Interdisciplinary PhD

What is an interdisciplinary PhD?

An interdisciplinary PhD (= interdisciplinary doctorate, combined degree) is a doctoral degree awarded by Ghent University in two (or more) different disciplines. The candidate must have at least one supervisor for each discipline involved. If multiple faculties are involved, the main faculty’s regulations and procedures serve as the basis for the negotiation of the collaborative agreement between the faculties.

Interdisciplinary PhDs combine two or more existing doctoral degrees at Ghent University, and can cross faculties as well as disciplines.

Upon a successful defence, the candidate is awarded a single diploma mentioning:

  • The combined degree
  • The faculty or faculties involved
  • The interdisciplinary examination board

The diploma supplement mentions all fields of study involved and the interdisciplinary nature of the evaluation.

Who can do an interdisciplinary PhD?

PhD candidates enrolled at Ghent University can apply for an interdisciplinary PhD, provided their research proposal meets the criteria for interdisciplinary research (see Conditions).

Why do an interdisciplinary PhD?

The added value of an interdisciplinary doctorate lies in the combined doctoral title which is a better reflection of the research than if one has to choose between one or the other title. At a later stage, the combined title makes it easier to market the acquired expertise in (academic) work contexts.

In addition, UGent considers the interdisciplinary PhD to be a cornerstone of the research policy aimed at encouraging interdisciplinary research. An interdisciplinary PhD can stimulate more cooperation between different research groups and the creation of innovative research output.

When apply for an interdisciplinary PhD?

  • At the start of the PhD trajectory
  • During the course of the PhD trajectory
  • At the very latest three years after the first enrolment for the doctorate at Ghent University (as specified in the Education and Examination Code for Doctoral Matters, Art. 32, §4)

Conditions and criteria

In order to qualify for an interdisciplinary PhD, a number of administrative conditions and content-specific criteria need to be taken into account.

  1. Only combinations of two or more existing doctoral titles at Ghent University are allowed. Both combinations within one faculty and combinations between two or more faculties are eligible.
  2. At least one supervisor per discipline involved needs to explicitly support and approve the application.
  3. Every application includes a specification of the disciplines involved, and a written motivation based on the following criteria for interdisciplinary research assessed by the faculty/faculties:
  • The disciplines differ sufficiently.
  • The expertise, knowledge, and methodologies from each of the disciplines involved are equally necessary for the successful execution of the project. The execution of the research proposal is only possible by means of an integrated, concentrated approach. The research cannot be divisible into multiple monodisciplinary researches which could be executed under supervision of separate supervisors. None of the disciplines involved may be an auxiliary science to one of the other disciplines involved.
  • The research carried out must result in new scientific findings in each of the disciplines involved or contribute to knowledge development in a new (budding) discipline.
    See also Education and Examination Code for Doctoral Matters, Art. 31, §2.
  • If several faculties are involved, it will be decided between the supervisors which faculty assumes the role of main faculty,  responsible for the admission procedure and the further administration of the interdisciplinary doctorate.
    • The supervisor that belongs to the main faculty is appointed as the administratively responsible supervisor.
    • It is the responsibility of the main faculty to inform the other faculty or faculties if there are changes to the modalities of the enrolment for the combined degree.
    • The main faculty acts as the central point of contact for the candidate.
  • Every discipline is represented in the examination board.
  • During the doctoral examination the examination board evaluates the interdisciplinary character of the dissertation based on the criteria for interdisciplinary research as stated above.
  • For all institutional regulations concerning interdisciplinary PhDs, please consult the Education and Examination Code for Doctoral Matters, Art. 31 through 37.


    The steps below apply to PhD candidates.

    1. Send an e-mail to stating that you would like to apply for an interdisciplinary PhD.
    2. You will receive further instructions and an application form.
    3. Complete the form together with your supervisors and return it to
    4. When the application is approved and signed by all parties involved (candidate, supervisors, and dean/s), you will receive an email confirming the change of your enrolment in a regular PhD into an interdisciplinary PhD.

    Funding for PhDs

    Please visit this webpage for an overview of the different funding possibilities for research at Ghent University.


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