Interested in a PhD?

To doctorate at the department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics is possible in different ways. It is possible to combine your studies with your medical training, but also non-doctors can do research within our department.


A PhD includes that you learn to answer a research question in an independent way by asking the right question and tackling it in a constructive scientific manner. There is a huge range of topics and types of research: you can opt for a fundamental, translational or clinical PhD. Accordingly, you will spend more time in a laboratory, be more involved with study patients or both.

  • Fundamental research: preclinical research, without patients
  • Translational research: research to convert preclinical findings into a clinical setting (often animal models)
  • Clinical research: with patients

Motivation, creativity and curiosity are necessary requirements to succeed in a PhD. Having realistic goals and not because "to change the world" are certainly important as well. Doing a PhD to increase your chances of getting a specialist position is not the right approach to start a PhD. A PhD teaches you not only to do scientific research but also to have a critical mindset and gives you a taste of the academic worklife.


A PhD usually consists of a 4-year track. It depends mainly on your funding or fellowships, which are usually awarded for 4 years. If you combine your PhD with a clinical training as a doctor, It will take you 4 years by default, of which 2 years count as training years if you continue to do part-time clinic (at least 1 day per week = 20%). Recent adjustments to the rules of some of the fellowships, allow sometimes more clinical time than this 20%. In principle, you can enter a scientific track at any time during your training (immediately after your Master of Medical Sciences degree or after a few years of training track). Every year that you do a PhD (if 20% clinic), counts for half a year of full-time clinical training. In other words, if the clinical track in terms of training is 6 years, and your doctorate track runs 4 years, you will have to have followed 4 years of full-time clinical training in addition to your PhD.


As indicated, funding or financing is often needed to start a PhD. Our university and the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) are the major pioneers and they provide many grants for researchers every year. The annual deadline for submission to the FWO is March 1, the first selection takes place  early July and a second interview round takes place in September. Therefore, if you are considering a PhD, it is important to contact potential promoters in time. The ultimate decision is made early October of the same year and the financial support of the FWO can be enjoyed from November 1 onwards. More information can be found on the website: Of course there are also other grants (such as BOF) and other institutions that can finance your research. Always discuss the possibilities with your supervisor, as many of these grants can be competitive.

Ghent University

As a doctoral student, you are an affiliated staff member of the Ghent University, and part of a department, this means you’ll enjoy the student benefits. On the other hand, you are expected to be permanently responsible for exam supervision during exam periods, as well as for supervising bachelor and/or master theses. In addition to your PhD, you can also take classes offered by the Doctoral Schools to further develop yourself as a (physician) researcher. After completing sufficient courses, you will eventually receive an additional certificate from the Doctoral Schools, on top of your doctoral degree.

Practical Information

For additional practical information about e.g. minimum criteria and the composition of the doctoral committee, we refer you to the website of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.