PhD fellowship strategic basic research

Objective

The PhD fellowship strategic basic research offers a junior scientist the opportunity to undertake their own challenging and innovative PhD project that can lead to innovative applications with economic added value over the longer term.

For the funding of additional PhD fellowships strategic basic research, the FWO works together with Plantentuin MeiseINBOVITO and the Flanders Hydraulics Research. From 2024, there will be no call for a Frank De Winne PhD fellowship anymore.

New from call 2024: study narrative:

From call 2024, the application forms will pay additional attention to a qualitative description of the completed study pathway. In the relevant section, applicants should set out why, based on their study pathway, they would be an excellent candidate to engage in cutting-edge research through their proposed PhD project. Applicants may, for example, refer to study results, awards, diplomas or specific courses. This qualitative approach should allow for a broader assessment of the candidate than merely based on study results or percentiles.

Call 2024

Important dates

  • 07 December 2023: call opens
  • 1 March 2024 at 5pm CET: call closes (last application date)
  • 13-26 June 2024: online preselection meetings
  • 27 June 2024: invitation to interviews
  • 28 August - 27 September 2024: (physical) interviews
  • 04 October 2024: announcement of results
  • 1 November 2024: start fellowship

Characteristics

  • Duration of the fellowship: 4 years
  • Grant amount (0 years' seniority): €2,420 /month (index 1,999 from 1/1/2023)
  • Bench fee € 3,720/year

Eligibility Criteria

  • You must be affiliated to a university in the Flemish Community.
  • At the start of the fellowship, you must hold a degree that is at least equivalent to a Master's degree that follows a Bachelor's degree and has been awarded by the competent institutions of one of the countries of the EEA or Switzerland.
  • If you have a degree certificate issued outside the EEA and Switzerland, you can have their degree declared equivalent to the Flemish Master's level by NARIC OR (new) provide the FWO with a declaration in which the administration of your university confirms that you will be allowed to prepare a doctoral thesis at the latest 15 September before the start of your mandate. This also applies to degrees awarded in the UK.
  • You need to have obtained your Master's degree or equivalent no later than three years before the final submission date of the call.
  • At the deadline, you will have reached a maximum of 18 months of academic seniority.
  • You can only apply twice for a PhD fellowship.
  • You have not yet benefited from this fellowship, not even in part.
  • You have to agree to the scientific integrity clause.

More details on the eligibility criteria for the PhD fellowships can be found in the PhD fellowship strategic basic research regulations.

Procedures for Application, Evaluation and Selection

  • You first find a promotor at a university in the Flemish Community, who is prepared to guide you as a PhD student.
  • You submit your application online via our e-portal. When you do this, you choose the expert panel that will evaluate your application. You can find the list and members of the expert panels for strategic basic research mandates here.
  • The FWO informs your promotor (and any co-promotor) of your application and asks your promotor to submit a letter of recommendation.
  • The selected expert panel evaluates your application and, after the preselection meeting, may invite you to the interview.
  • If you are invited for the interviews, you will come to the FWO offices and defend your application before the selected expert panel. You can find interview guidelines here.
  • The Board of Directors makes the final decision on the selection based on the advice of the expert panels that evaluated the applications and interviews. You will receive the results via e-mail and you can also find them on the results page once they have been made public.

Regulations

Further explanations

Example application form: offers a number of screenshots of the online application forms and the project template outline

  • Contact the FWO:

For questions about the application template or procedure: /en/contact/for-the-researcher/

In the event of technical problems with the e-desk: FWOhelpdesk@fwo.be

  • Attend one of the info sessions:

Every year, the FWO gives info sessions to universities with explanations on how to submit a PhD fellowship application. A member of FWO’s staff explains the mission of the FWO, the objective of the PhD fellowship programme and the selection and evaluation procedures. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions about these topics during the information session. You can registrate via your university.

Info session dates for PhD fellowship call 2024:

  • 4 December 2023: VUB
  • 5 December 2023: UGent
  • 7 December 2023: UAntwerpen
  • 11 December 2023: KU Leuven
  • 14 December 2023: UHasselt

You can access the info session presentation here.

  • Choose the right expert panel:

Choosing the expert panel is very important. The subject of your research proposal should fit within the scope of the panel, so that the panel members are able to evaluate your application correctly. That is why discussing your choice thoroughly with your supervisor is a good idea. The FWO does not offer advice in this regard.

  • Check the list of the panels strategic basic research
  • If, during the review, the panel judges by consensus that the application falls outside the scope of the panel, it may be rejected for that reason. We emphasize again that the responsibility for the correct choice of panel lies with the applicant!
  • We will publish an updated panel composition a few weeks after the call closes.
  • Please check the score grids in advance:

The experts will evaluate your application in a preselection phase and during an interview. The experts apply a scoring grid that differs for each phase. We recommend that you consult the scoring grids when writing your application and when preparing for your interview. You can find the scoring grids for the strategic basic research aspirant programme here (preselection / interview).

  • Provide us with your diverse researcher profile:

The FWO gives ample consideration to diverse researcher profiles and research output in the application forms. It thereby gives researchers the opportunity to demonstrate the construction of their research careers through a range of scientifically relevant activities, skills, experiences and achievements. This is in line with the international evolution away from a one-sided focus on classical output criteria (such as publications, bibliometrics, patents, etc.) and towards a broader view of what science can be and achieve, while respecting the specificity of each discipline. The application forms are aimed to help the researcher demonstrate that versatility. Evaluation procedures have been adapted accordingly.

  • State any obstacles in your research:

The FWO recognises the potential impact of the COVID-19 crisis to this point, on the strength of your application dossier and the ambitions of your research project. We therefore recommend that you explicitly mention the specific factors affecting your application dossier in the application form. This can be done in the field 'career breaks', and where applicable also in 'personal statement', 'research stays' and/or in the project description. The FWO will instruct the panel members to take this into account in the evaluation of your application.

  • Determine the percentile of your study results:

You need to provide the percentile of your study results in your application form. Read all about determining your percentile here.

  • Prepare for the interview:

You have received an email from the FWO and have been invited to the interview? Have a look at the interview guidelines here. You can find the concrete dates when the interviews will take place around April here.