Doctoral supervision and support

At Ghent University, there is no single path to a doctoral degree. The university offers a tailor-made, flexible trajectory to each of its doctoral researchers.

As a doctoral researcher at Ghent University, you have at least one supervisor (who is a member of the university’s professorial staff). In addition, you have at least one co-supervisor, a mentor or a doctoral advisory committee. The supervisory teams create the scientific environment needed to successfully conduct your doctoral research. The Charter for doctoral students and supervisors offers a comprehensive overview of guidelines and recommendations for all kinds of collaboration involving a doctoral researcher and a senior advisor. The Charter states in broad terms the rights and duties of a doctoral researcher and helps to make sure that your expectations match those of your research supervisors.

Supervisory team


There are essentially two possibilities to find a supervisor for your PhD. You can either apply for an open PhD position (i.e. a PI is actively looking for a PhD candidate) or you can approach a specific Ghent University professor (i.e. you yourself have an interesting research proposal and/or research funding).
  • For every PhD student admitted to the university, the relevant faculty appoints a supervisor. The faculty also guarantees that PhD students can rely on a second person providing guidance or support. This can be, for example, a co-supervisor or members of a Doctoral Advisory Committee.
  • A supervisor provides guidance during your PhD research. It is crucial to have a supervisor who is an expert in your particular research area and who is able to provide the necessary time, infrastructure and support. Your supervisor monitors the progress of your PhD. If your faculty has appointed a Doctoral Advisory Committee, your supervisor is the chairperson of this committee.
  • Some PhD students have more than one supervisor appointed by the faculty. This can be particularly relevant in the case of multidisciplinary research. A faculty may also appoint a co-supervisor outside the faculty or outside the university.
  • At least one of the supervisors must be a “ZAP”-professor (independent academic staff), a guest professor commissioned with research, or a retired professor with the exceptional permission to continue educational activities.

Doctoral Advisory Committee

Some faculties appoint a Doctoral Advisory Committee for every PhD student; other faculties give you the choice whether you like to have one appointed. Please check your own faculty regulations.

This committee consists of 3 to 5 members, of whom one is a member outside of your department. It always includes your supervisor(s). The other members can be professors, postdocs or even experts from other universities or companies whose experience or knowledge will be relevant to your research area. Together with your supervisor (s), they guard the progress in your research.

The members of the Doctoral Advisory Committee meet at least once every year to discuss your progress, but you can also approach them yourself if you need advice or support for your research or for your doctoral training programme.

Doctoral Schools

Every PhD student automatically becomes  a member of one of the Doctoral Schools. These schools coordinate their own Doctoral Training Programme. They also organize various information sessions, create a community feel amongst researchers, and send out a regular newsletter. You can choose the Doctoral School whose training programme best meets your own research focus.

The Doctoral Training Programme consists of a wide range of courses, of which you can compose your own flexible curriculum. Some courses provide advanced expert training in your field; other courses help you to develop a broader range of research-related skills.


In case you experience problems in the collaboration with your supervisor or the Doctoral Advisory Committee, get in contact with the ombudsperson for PhD students in your faculty: Ombudspeople

Additional support

Most departments or research groups organise additional informal support. Some arrange meetings for PhD students and postdocs to share your experience, some have reading groups, some organize informal presentations of your research. In many large departments, supervisors share a lot of their supervision responsibilities with postdoctoral researchers in their team.