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Special PhD fellowship



Announcement of results


The Special PhD fellowship enables persons not employed within scientific research to complete a PhD within one year. Applicants must be in possession of a "temporary leave" certificate issued by their current employer.

Important dates

  • 07 December 2023: call opens
  • 1 March 2024 at 5pm CET: call closes (last application date)
  • June 2024: meetings
  • 27 June 2024: announcement of results
  • 1 November 2024: start fellowship


  • Duration of the fellowship: 1 year
  • Net monthly scholarship amount: identical to the last net salary of the main activity, limited to the net salary which the beneficiary would receive as assistant at a university in the Flemish Community

Profile and conditions

  • 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 are permanently employed.
  • You are not professionally involved in scientific research.
  • Your employer is willing to give you temporary leave or unpaid leave for 1 year. You are entitled to return to your job after the leave ends.
  • You relinquish any secondary activity and associated remuneration.
  • You have not previously received an FWO fellowship (not even in part).
  • You have to agree to the scientific integrity clause.

More details on the eligibility criteria for the Special PhD fellowship can be found in the Special PhD fellowship regulations.

Procedures for Application, Evaluation and Selection

  • You first find a promotor at a university in the Flemish Community, the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven or the Faculty of Protestant Theology in Brussels, who is prepared to guide you as a PhD student.
  • You submit your application online via our e-portal.
  • The FWO informs your promotor (and any co-promotor) of your application and asks your promotor to submit a letter of recommendation.
  • The Cross-Domain expert panel evaluates your application
  • The Board of Directors makes the final decision on the selection based on the advice of the expert panel 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.

Further explanations

Contact the FWO

For questions about the application template or procedure: For the researcher

In the event of technical problems with the e-desk:

Advice, selection- and evaluation criteria


The FWO demands a letter of recommendation of the supervisor (and co-supervisors, if applicable). The supervisor makes an undertaking to assist the PhD student closely and to ensure sufficient coaching and guidance to facilitate the latter in completing a PhD within the period of the fellowship.


  • research capability and potential (including course results)
  • research skills and methodology
  • scientific independence
  • originality and innovative nature of the project
  • feasibility of the project
  • purposefulness of the project
  • quality of coaching and assistance


  • research ability and skills of the PhD candidates
  • state of progress of the doctoral thesis
  • quality of the doctoral thesis
  • quality of the published results

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.