Self-funded PhD

If you do not have a PhD scholarship or successfully applied to a PhD vacancy, some prospective PhD candidates consider funding their PhD studies themselves. If you are a non-EU national and need a long-stay visa (i.e. for all stays >90 days), you need to fulfill the following conditions.

Note that under no circumstances should you apply to a long-stay visa yourself. It is always the university that needs to do this on your behalf!!!

Q: How much funding do I need?

A: In case you need a long-stay visa (MVV), as of 1 July 2019 you need to be able to provide proof that you have EUR 1.237 per month (single) or EUR 1.767 per month (with family) at your disposal for the entire period of research at UMCG.

Note that this is a legal immigration requirement set by national authorities. The University needs to comply with this. Usually each half year (1 January, 1 July) the Dutch Immigration Services (IND) raises the amounts set as a minimum requirement for immigration.

Q: How can I provide proof of sufficient financial means?

A: You can provide proof of sufficient financial means in three ways:

  • Scholarship letter: a scholarship agency provides a letter that you have been awarded amount X per month for the period from DD-MM-YYYY to DD-MM-YYYY
  • Loan: you have an official loan statement from a known loan-provider (e.g. bank). Note that loan statements from family members are not accepted!
  • Self-funded: you have the financial means for the entire period of your projected stay at the UMCG at your disposal. Read on.

Q: I am self-funded: what amounts do I need to prove exactly?

A: As said, if you are self-funded and need a visa, you need to have the entire amount required by the IND for the entire period of stay in the Netherlands at your disposal, at the moment the University of Groningen applies for a visa for you.

EXAMPLE: You are travelling by yourself (without spouse & children) and will want to carry out your PhD for 48 months at the UMCG starting December 2019. This means that on 1 July 2019 you need to have EUR 59.376 (48 x 1237) in your bank account!

EXAMPLE: You are travelling with your spouse and will want to carry out your PhD for 36 months at the UMCG starting December 2019. This means that on 1 July 2019 you need to have EUR 63.612 (36 x 1767) in your bank account!

Q: I have the amount necessary to carry out my PhD in my bank account: how do I prove this?

A: The ISD of the University of Groningen, the office that is responsible for applying for your long-stay visa, will ask you to transfer the amount corresponding to the minimum requirement set by the IND for the period of your visa to the University. With that, they can provide the IND with the required proof that you actually have sufficient means to support yourself during your stay in the Netherlands. The ISD will transfer the full amount back into your account once you have started your PhD at Groningen.

Contact the ISD for more information.

Q: I do not have sufficient financial means to provide proof for a full PhD, can I still start my PhD at Groningen?

A: It may happen that you for example have sufficient means to cover 12 months of your PhD trajectory. It is possible, if you transfer the amount corresponding to those 12 months to the ISD, that we apply for a 12-month visa for you as a visiting researcher. You will not (yet) be enrolled as a PhD degree student though, considering that 12 months in nearly all cases is insufficient to qualify for a PhD degree. 

During the first period at the UMCG you should then make an effort to fund the remainder period of your PhD - in most cases a full PhD program lasts 36 to 48 months. Some of the options:

  • You apply to an external scholarship agency (again)
  • You acquire the means to continue as a self-funded student for another period of time 
  • You apply to a PhD vacancy or your supervisor/department has acquired additional funding to support you

Of course, in all cases it is essential that your supervisor is willing to continue hosting you as a (prospective) PhD student.

Q: I have the funding, can I just come to Groningen now?

A: No. In all cases you of course need a supervisor who is willing to host you for your research or PhD studies. The basis for that is an accepted PhD research proposal and your supervisor most likely will want to have interviewed you beforehand. Moreover, in case you do not have the funding to meet the minimum IND requirements for the entire period of a PhD (usually 36-48 months), in most cases supervisors will want to assess the likelihood that you are able to acquire continued funding for your PhD once your initial period of stay has ended.

Q: I have the means and my supervisor has agreed to host me, what do I need to do now?

A: Your supervisor will need to submit the following information to the Graduate School of Medical Sciences (Mathilde Pekelaer, cc Joyce Fongers) so that the GSMS can draft either a Letter of Acceptance (visiting researcher) or Letter of Admission (PhD degree student):

Your CV, including:

  • Full name
  • Place & date of birth
  • E-mail address

About the project:

  • Start and end date of the period of your self-funded period of research - note that visa applications take at least 4 months once we have all of the documentation!
  • PhD project title
  • Title(s) and name(s) of supervisor(s) and their departmental affiliation(s)
  • Information on how the candidate aims to continue funding their PhD project if they do not (yet) have the means to apply for a 36-48 month visa.

Q: Can I receive an official top-up from the University of Groningen as a self-funded PhD?

A: In principle, only PhD candidates who have been awarded a selective scholarship may request this option. The exception to this rule are partner universities with which the Graduate School has made specific agreements. This currently applies to Shantou University Medical College (SUMC) and Jilin University in China.

If you are a prospective (sandwich) PhD student from one of those universities, it is important that your application to a self-funded (sandwich) PhD position is supported by the coordinating offices at your university. This is important, because all students applying to a top-up of their PhD funding from the University of Groningen, should have undergone a rigorous process of selection.