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 Meise Botanic Garden and INBO (Research Institute for Nature and Forest) and (every two years, not for the call 2022) L'Oreal-UNESCO.

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.


  • Period: 2 years, renewable once, for two more years
  • Net monthly scholarship amount:  minimum € 2,246.91
  • Fixed bench fee:  € 3,720 per year
  • Call 2022 closed (new call will open on 7 December 2022)
  • Deadline next call: 1 March 2023 17:00h CET
  • Announcement of selection results (Call 2022): October 7, 2022
  • Start fellowship (Call 2022): 1 November 2022

Profile and conditions

  • For more details on the eligibility criteria, consult the regulations PhD 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 2022 (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 July 1, 2022 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. The interviews will take place in the new offices of FWO (Leuvenseweg 38, 1000 Brussels). Guidelines for the interview are listed here.
    • 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 page on October 7, 2022
    • 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 2022

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

  • 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

  • NEW
    • 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: in the score grids, the score descriptors have been supplemented with the new elements in the application form.
    • Please note, when entering publications (e-portal ‘personal details’) , the previous sections A.1.1. and A.1.2. in the publication listshave been merged into a single section: peer reviewed articles in journals’ (i.e. without distinguishing between Web of Science, VABB-SHW and the like). A2 deals with ‘non-peer reviewed articles in journals’. With the transition from the old to the new system, publications previously entered in A.1.1. and A.1.2. have already been combined in chronological order in the new section A1. However, applicants remain themselves responsible for the accuracy of the information included in the personal details, application forms and the like. Applicants are therefore advised to carefully check their combined publications in A1.
    • The application form now also features two questions relating to ‘responsible research and innovation’: one about the extent to which ‘gender and diversity’has been taken into account in the research approach and another about the involvement of social stakeholders in the research. Applicants can justify their answers to both questions or, where appropriate, indicate why these aspects are not relevant to their application. The questions are intended to raise awareness about these aspects in terms of what is understood as responsible research and innovation.
  • 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 interdisciplinary panel you should use the acceptancecriteria decision tree to figure out whether this panel does really fit your proposal.
    • If during the evaluation of your proposal there is a panel consensus that the application is out of scope it 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 2021 panels are found here.
  • 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.

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.