Special Research Fund - PhD grants with UNU-CRIS, GUGC or Blue Growth label

Each year, through the Special Research Fund (BOF), labelled PhD scholarships are being granted to predoctoral researchers by Ghent University in the context of three specific partnerships, with the aim of obtaining a PhD within a period of 48 months. These scholarships are only awarded within the framework of the planned cooperation with UNU-CRIS ('United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies'), GUGC ('Ghent University Global Campus' in Korea) or the thematic science park on 'Blue Growth and Blue Economy' on the Ghent University campus in Ostend ('Bluebridge COB'). The amount of the scholarship is approximately € 2.590 per month, depending on the family status of the scholar. A bench fee of € 310/month is awarded to the promoter for operational costs.

*Dutch version*

UNU-CRIS label

  • What?

In the context of the cooperation agreement between Ghent University, the VUB and the United Nations University (UNU), an independent research institute of the United Nations, Ghent University has been awarding 2 BOF doctoral scholarships with UNU-CRIS label each year since 2017. Research on global and regional governance processes is carried out at this campus.

  • Conditions?

The doctoral subject should frame within the mission of UNU-CRIS, it can be decided in consultation with the supervisor to apply for a BOF doctoral scholarship with UNU-CRIS label:

“UNU-CRIS focuses on new patterns of regional cooperation and multi-level governance worldwide, centering on the implications of these changing patterns for public policy.”

The research program of UNU-CRIS includes research on the regional and/or multi-layered dimensions of several policy domains (migration and social policy, security, economy, climate, digital, etc.), as well as research on supranational regional organizations, the international role of sub-national authorities, and the issues of border regions. Research proposals related to regions other than the EU are particularly encouraged.

To apply for a BOF doctoral scholarship with UNU-CRIS label, it is required that the project proposal aligns with the UNU-CRIS strategic vision note and the research themes   mentioned.

The scholarship holders are enrolled as doctoral students at the UGent, but will carry out their research activities mainly (4 days/week) at the United Nations University - CRIS campus in Bruges. Physical presence on the campus is an obligation.

During the execution of the selected research project, the supervisor will be associated with UNU-CRIS.

As an attachment to the application form, a statement from dr. Philippe De Lombaerde, director of UNU-CRIS, supporting the submission of the application for a BOF doctoral scholarship with UNU-CRIS label, should be added.

For more information about UNU-CRIS, see website UNU-CRIS UGent and the general UNU-CRIS website.

GUGC label

  • What

The Ghent University Global Campus (GUGC) is the only campus affiliated with Ghent University located abroad, specifically in Incheon (Songdo), South Korea.

Scientific research at GUGC is conducted in five research centers, namely:
• Centre for Biomedical Research
• Centre for Environmental and Energy Research
• Food Research Centre
• Lab of Plant Growth Analysis
• Center for Biotech Data Science

To further develop research activities at the GUGC campus and promote research collaboration between the GUGC campus and Ghent University, two joint Ghent University-GUGC doctoral scholarships have been awarded annually since 2022. In 2024 exceptionally 3 doctoral scholarships with GUGC label can be awarded.

  • Conditions?
  1. At least two supervisors are required, one of whom is primarily active at Ghent University and one of whom is primarily active at the GUGC campus in South Korea. It is obliged to add a statement of the GUGC supervisor in which he/she confirms to support the doctoral research.
  2. The proposed research project must demonstrate both scientific quality and a clear added value for strengthening collaboration between the GUGC campus and Ghent University.
  3. The doctoral student will conduct the research partly (2 years) at Ghent University and partly (2 years) at the GUGC campus in South Korea. In accordance with the agreement between GUGC and Ghent University, the doctoral scholarship is partially funded by Ghent University and partially by GUGC. During the research period at Ghent University, the candidate receives a doctoral scholarship from Ghent University (and is subject to Ghent University regulations), during the research period at GUGC, the candidate receives a doctoral scholarship from GUGC (and is subject to the regulations applicable at GUGC). The amount of the doctoral scholarship is adjusted to the cost of living in the respective country and thus may vary.
  4. The candidate, in consultation with both supervisors, chooses whether to start the doctoral trajectory at Ghent University or on the GUGC campus. For a start at the GUGC campus, a prior work experience of 3 years is required by the Korean government in order to obtain a visa.

Blue Growth label

  • What?

Ghent University is committed to further developing the thematic science park focusing on blue growth and the blue economy at Ostend Science Park (OSP). In 2024, 3 scholarships with a Blue Growth label can be awarded.

  • Conditions?
  1. The research project must fall within the domain of Blue Growth, as defined by the European Commission in its EU Blue Growth strategy or belong to a domain mentioned in the (Flemish) Blue Cluster strategy . The steering group Marine@UGent CF will decide on the admissibility of the application for a Blue Growth label.
  2. At least one of the supervisors of the doctoral scholarship at Ghent University must be active in the field of marine/maritime research. This is satisfied if the research group to which the supervisor belongs is included in the Compendium 'Coast and Sea' of the VLIZ, which includes all Belgian research groups active in marine/maritime research. The research group can be listed either individually or as a member of Marine@UGent in the compendium. The steering group Marine@UGent CF will base this on the most recent version of the compendium
  3. The PhD must stimulate collaboration between faculties. The BOF application is supported by two supervisors from two different faculties.
  4. The PhD candidate who obtains a BOF doctoral scholarship with Blue Growth label will be enrolled as a doctoral student at Ghent University but will conduct the research full-time at Ostend Science Park (OSP)
  5. The PhD candidate can use all available research infrastructure within the local "ecosystem," including the Marine@UGent core facilities, the coastal ocean basin, the towing tank, and test infrastructure on or near the sea. For an overview of all available infrastructure as well as usage conditions, Prof. Jana Asselman should be contacted.

Who can apply?

There are no restrictions in terms of nationality, age or field of research.

To be eligible, the candidate should preferably belong to at least the top 20% best students of the cohort in terms of all degrees obtained.

An application for a BOF doctoral scholarship must always be submitted with the support of a Ghent University supervisor (ZAP member). Other Ghent University researchers can act as co-supervisors, non-Ghent University researchers as ‘researchers involved'.

How to apply?

  • Fill in the application form and send it to BOFapplication@ugent.be
  • The Ghent University supervisor should simultaneously send a separate document with their opinion on the candidate's research potential (advice promotor) to BOFapplication@ugent.be
  • The application form and other relevant documents can be found at the bottom of this webpage. Please read the call document thoroughly and use it as a guide when preparing your application.


  • Deadline: 23 May 2024 (23u59 at the latest)

For non-Ghent University students: if the master's degree has not yet been obtained at the time of the deadline, please submit the acquired results to BOFapplication@UGent.be by 12 July 2024 at the latest.
(for UGent students, these data are automatically provided by the central student administration)

Announcement of the results

  • Results online available on 28 August 2024
  • Non-awarded candidates will receive feedback within 6 weeks after the results are published

Duration BOF doctoral scholarship with label

  • Period: 4 years (1+3)

In accordance with the regulations for PhD scholarship recipients, the doctoral program starts by definition with a scholarship agreement of 1 year. If, before the end of the first year, the doctoral advisory committee or, in the absence thereof, the promoter(s) judge(s) that both the substantive progress in the context of the doctoral research and the overall functioning of the PhD scholarship recipient are such that the doctoral program can be successfully completed within a reasonable period of time, the promoter issues a positive advice in a written form. A positive recommendation leads to a 3-year extension of the doctoral scholarship.

  • Startdate: 1 October 2024


Research Department
Research Co-ordination Office - Special Research Fund


Call and application forms

The entire call and application form can also be downloaded below.

Scientific report

Final report : within three months following upon the end of the grant a final scientific/scholarly report has to be sent electronically to . The promoter and co-promoter (if applicable) are included in this e-mail (either as sender, or in CC).