PhD Fellowship fundamental research


A PhD Fellowship fundamental research allows young researchers to prepare a PhD, and to develop into independent scientists with a critical mindset. Fundamental research in the context of a PhD fellowship stands for challenging and innovative research (at PhD level).

For the funding of a limited number of fellowships, the FWO collaborates with Plantentuin Meise, INBO, VITO en Flanders Hydraulics (WL).

In the context of the ‘Kom op tegen Kanker’ (“Fight against Cancer”) campaign, the FWO awards an additional PhD fellowship fundamental research, in the Panel Med4 – Cancer research. This ‘kom op tegen kanker’ fellowship is granted to the best ranked candidate in the Med4 panel.

Thanks to the support of the Demoucelle Parkinson Charity, the FWO – Demoucelle Parkinson Charity PhD fellowship is launched in 2023. This is a new fellowship for a promising young researcher whose research subject is biomedical research on Parkinson's disease. Applications in regular FWO calls for PhD fellowships fundamental research or strategic basic research are eligible for this fellowship.

In order to apply for this call:

  • Submit a regular application for a PhD Fellowship fundamental research or a PhD Fellowship strategic basic research (submission deadline 1 March 2023 17:00h CET).
  • Send an e-mail to before 1 March 2023, 17:00h CET including your application number, the name of the applicant, the English title of your research proposal and a short motivation (max. 100 words) why you wish to be considered for this fellowship. Please put your supervisor and any co-supervisors in cc of this e-mail.


  • Period: 2 years, renewable once, for two more years
  • Net monthly scholarship amount: minimum € 2,420
  • Fixed bench fee: € 3,720 per year
  • Call closed
  • Announcement of selection results 06 October 2023
  • Start fellowship: 1 November 2023

Profile and conditions

  • For more details on the eligibility criteria, consult the regulationsPhD fellowship fundamental research.
  • You are affiliated to a university in the Flemish Community, to the Evangelic Protestant Faculty in Leuven or the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels
  • At the start of the fellowship, candidates must be holder of a diploma at least equivalent to a master's degree following a bachelor's degree and awarded by the competent institutions in one of the countries of the European Economic Area or Switzerland*.

*You can have your certificate, awarded outside EEA and Switzerland, recognized by NARIC, as being on the level of a Flemish master degree. This also applies to diplomas awarded in the UK.

  • The master degree or equivalent diploma must have been obtained not earlier than 3 years before the closing date of the call.
  • On 1 March 2023 (application submission deadline) you have 18 months scientific seniority at most.
  • You can apply maximum two times for a PhD fellowship
  • You have not previously received an FWO PhD fellowship (not even in part).
  • You agree with the Research Integrity Clause

Submission and selection procedure

  • In a nutshell:
    • You find a promotor affiliated to a Flemish university (or to the Evangelic Protestant Faculty in Leuven or the Faculty for Protestant Theology in Brussels), who is ready to guide you as a doctoral student.
    • You submit your application online (FWO e-portal).
    • The promotor is invited by the FWO to write a letter of recommendation.
    • After the preselection by the expert panel, you will be notified and depending on your result, invited on June 30, 2023 to the second round with interview.
    • If you are selected for the second round, you'll be interviewed by the panel between 5 and 30 September 2022.The dates of the interviews are listed by panel here (update June 2023). The interviews will take place in the new offices of FWO (Leuvenseweg 38, 1000 Brussels). Guidelines for the interview are listed here (update June 2023).
    • The Expert panels report to the Board of Trustees, who  decides on the appointment. The results will be announced via email and via our results pageon October 6, 2023
    • You receive feedback on the decision and the findings of the expert panel.
    • The evaluation and selection procedures will be explained during infosessions (see below)


Information for applicants


General information

  • Info sessions call 2024

Evaluation and selection procedures are commented during the information sessions and in this presentation (call 2023). The presentation allows to better understand the evaluation and selection process, and to preprare an application that meets the selection criteria.

Registration for these infosessions at your hosting instituition – Research Coordination:

4/12/2023: VUB
5/12/2023: UGent
7/12/2023: UAntwerpen
11/12/2023: KU Leuven
14/12/2023: UHasselt

  • COVID-19 and your application
    • As a candidate PhD fellow you may be worried about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the strength of your application file and the ambitions of your research project.
    • Therefore we advise you to mention specific factors that influence your application in the entry field ‘career breaks’ and, where appropriate, ‘motivation statement’, ‘research stays’ and/or in the project description file. The FWO will explicitly instruct the panel members to take this into account when assessing your application.

Support with your application

  • Recognizing broader scope for research:
    • The application form has been amended to give more attention to various researcher profiles and research results. The purpose of these amendments is to give researchers the opportunity to demonstrate the building up of their research career through a range of scientifically relevant activities, skills, experiences and achievements. The FWO is thus following an international trend away from a one-sided focus on ‘classical’ output criteria (such as publications, bibliometrics, patents and the like) towards a broader view of what science can be and accomplish, with respect for the specificity of each discipline. The new application forms are aimed to help the researcher demonstrate that versatility The evaluation procedure has also been amended accordingly since call 2022: in the score grids, the score descriptors have been supplemented with the new elements in the application form.
  • Percentiles (study results)
    How to position your study results within your study group? This is an element of the evaluation by the expert panel. Learn how to find ‘your’ percentile here.
  • Expert panels: make the proper choice
    • Choose the expert panel that best fits your application. Carefully check the panel scopes in order to make the most adequate choice. For the specific interdisciplinary panel you should pay special attention to the functional definition of interdisciplinarity and to your motivation for this choice of panel. New this year is the evaluation of the component of interdisciplinarity (see scoring grids).
    • If during the evaluation of your proposal there is a panel consensus that the application is out of scopeit can be rejected for that reason. It is important to stress that the responsibility for the match between application and panel is the applicant’s!
    • The updated composition of the panels for the FWO fellowships will be published a few weeks after the call has been closed. The 2022 panels are found here.
  • Scoring grids
    The scoring grid (scoring descriptors) will used by the expert panels as a reference framework for the evaluation during the preselection resp. interview sessions.
  • Interviews

Working as a FWO PhD fellow?

What happens when the FWO has approved your fellowship? Here we take you step by step through the different stages of your fellowship.