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Appointment of PhDs and postdocs

Appointment and supervision of PhDs

Under 'Forms' you will find the forms Planning and evaluation PhD students and  Form Job description and plan for training and supervision PhD student

Appointment guideline PhD students

NWO-I has two concrete objectives for PhD students that are related to the character of NWO-I as an organisation that employs researchers on a temporary basis. During the selection of PhD students, the candidate should be assessed against the feasibility of these objectives.

Objective 1: PhD obtained within four years

The candidate’s CV and personality must give the confidence that the PhD programme can be realised within four years. Besides outstanding study results (grades and quality of master's thesis) the candidate must show a strong research motivation and focus.

Objective 2: connection with the employment market after NWO-I

The candidate's CV and personality must give the confidence that the candidate can find a job elsewhere immediately after the temporary employment at NWO-I. The profile of a recent PhD graduate upon leaving service must be such that he/she can successfully compete on the employment market with other highly educated persons. In this context, the personal qualities of the PhD candidate (social and communication skills, initiative) are also important.


In the appointment request to NWO-I you should provide arguments to show that the candidate has the necessary qualities to realise both objectives. The P&O Department NWO-I will clearly consider the appointment request on the basis of these arguments. You must draw up the training and supervision plan and sign this before the employment agreement becomes effective. Download the form Job description and training and supervision plan researchers in training.

During the employment period

  • A planned approach to the PhD research can ensure PhD graduation within four years. You must hold a planning and evaluation interview with the PhD each year. The first evaluation interview is particularly important in view of the two objectives described above. The form 'Planning the evaluation for researchers in training' (right column) can be used for the interview.
  • NWO-I offers PhD students a training package. During the first year each PhD student is obliged to follow the training Managing your PhD.
  • In principle, the standard employment contract of four years is not extended unless exceptional situations occur. In the case of extension, see Extension employment contracts.

After the employment contract has expired

  • If after the employment contract has expired, the PhD student does not have a new job then, in principle, the PhD student enters an unemployment benefit situation, see Unemployment regulation research institutions.
  • An immediate bridging appointment is possible for PhD students. He or she must demonstrate that he or she definitely has a new job within a few months after the employment contract has expired. Another condition is that NWO-I must approve a research proposal for the bridging contract. Consult the relevant contact person for this.

Appointment conditions for postdocs

* For more information, also download the brochure 'The appointment of foreign personnel'

NWO-I believes it is important that international knowledge exchange takes place via postdoc positions. Furthermore, NWO-I considers a foreign experience essential for a successful scientific career for the individual postdoc as well. From the viewpoint of both perspectives, NWO-I only offers researchers a postdoc contract if they have acquired relevant work experience (for example as a PhD or postdoc) outside of the Netherlands.
N.B.: Therefore a researcher who gains his or her PhD in the Netherlands and who completed a university study abroad does not standardly satisfy this requirement. Such a background can, however, in combination with other factors/arguments, be a reason for NWO-I to make an exception.

Further, the appointment policy of NWO-I is based on our basic principle that - partly in the interest of the postdoc - the continuous accumulation of postdoc contracts must be prevented. Given this basic principle, NWO-I does not usually support requests to offer a researcher a third postdoc contract at NWO-I.

To streamline the recruitment and selection of candidates the following guideline has been established in consultation with the Central Works Council (COR NWO). The Head of P&O can grant permission to deviate from the guideline; see the hardship clause in the guideline below. The workgroup leader BUW should submit a request to deviate from the guideline and provide sufficient arguments for this. In such cases, the workgroup leader BUW is advised to contact the P&O Department of NWO-I at an early stage to discuss the case.

Postdoc guidelines/appointment policy postdocs

  1. An employment contract at NWO-I is usually for two to three years.
  2. Relevant work experience (for example as a PhD or postdoc) at a research institution outside of the Netherlands.
  3. Researchers who are starting on their third postdoc contract will not usually be appointed as a postdoc by NWO-I. The Head of P&O can deviate from this, as long as the total duration of the previous postdoc contracts was not more than four years, or if there are exceptional circumstances that hinder the full implementation of the aforementioned period.
  4. Grading in scale 10 of the Collective Labour Agreement Research Institutions. The number of years of experience as a postdoc determines the grade in the scale. A postdoc who is employed immediately after his or her PhD graduation is graded in scaled 10 grade 5.
  5. Hardship clause: the postdoc guidelines/appointment policy postdocs can be deviated from in exceptional situations, if in the opinion of the Head of P&O the interests of the NWO-I organisation and/or the circumstances of the individual case give due reason for this.
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