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PhD opportunities
Do you want to get a PhD in the field of learning and teaching in technology enriched learning environments? And do you want to do this at home, in combination with your current job? The Welten Institute is the place for you.

PhD candidates can be employed by the Welten Institute but the Welten Institute also offers aspirant PhD candidates who are employed elsewhere the opportunity to get their PhD. These so called external PhD candidates are not a part of the Welten Institute but their project is supervised by one of Welten Institute's professors.

Your research question for a PhD should match one of the areas of interest of the research programme of the Welten Institute

Check also the list of earlier PhD-research projects or current research projects of the Welten Institute.

Prof. dr. Renate de Groot
Full professor

What we expect

When you start at the Welten Institute as an external PhD we expect you to:

  • be prepared and motivated to concentrate the coming 4 to 5 years on your research question without losing the practical relevance of your research out of sight.
  • formulate a well-thought out research question: what problem do you want to investigate and how do you expect your research to contribute to the solution of this problem.
  • choose a research question that fits within one or more of the areas of interest of the research programme of the Welten Institute.
  • be competent in the English language: English is the language of our research world and as such your publications and dissertation will be in English.
  • have a preliminary conversation with your intended PhD supervisor after which you will be asked to elaborate your research question under his or her guidance into a complete research proposal.
  • invest sufficient time (i.e. at least between 16 and 24 hours per week) during the years of your PhD trajectory into your research; external PhD's often have an agreement with their employers that they can do part of their research during working hours.
  • write approximately one article every year for publication in an internationally recognized scientific journal.
  • participate in the educational activities agreed upon in your individual Education and Supervision Plan.
  • write your dissertation at the end of the trajectory, submit it to a commission for evaluation and approval and, after approval, defend it.

Before the start of the PhD trajectory, the mutual expectations (your own and of your supervisor) are made explicit and recorded in a declaration of intent, an individual Education and Supervision Plan and finally the PhD contract.

What we offer

A PhD trajectory usually takes about four/five years. You do your PhD research at home and/or in combination with your current job. In these four/five years you can expect:

  • to be admitted to / participate in the research group and the research meetings of the Welten Institute (you become a member of the research team).
  • expert scientific supervision by your PhD supervisor - a professor of the Welten Institute.
  • collaboration with a daily supervisor, a co-PhD supervisor, who is close to your research topic; this person will come from the Welten Institute or your own working environment.
  • admittance to / participation in courses and workshops on specific academic research skills that the Welten Institute or the Open Universiteit organises for their PhDs; as agreed upon beforehand in your individual Education and Supervision Plan.
  • participation in courses of interuniversitary research schools (e.g. ICO and/or SIKS); as agreed beforehand in your individual education and supervision plan.
  • admittance to our digital/online library facilities.

Other possible facilities can be: an OU internet account, admittance to the OU campus/study centres, some form of support by the printing of your thesis, etc. All these facilities are agreed upon beforehand and are included in the PhD contract.

Before the start of the PhD trajectory, the mutual expectations (your own and of your supervisor) are made explicit and recorded in an individual Education and Supervision Plan and the PhD contract.

How to start

The procedure to start a PhD trajectory is as follows.

Application including the formulation of your research question

You apply for becoming an external PhD by using the application form.

In this form you make a preliminary formulation of the problem you want to investigate.

  • You formulate your research question as concretely as possible your research question (max 20 words). This is the provisional work title of your research project.
  • You describe the problem you want to investigate and how you think your research will contribute to its solution (max 300 words). In this description you indicate what the problem is, what you want to investigate to solve the problem and how you want to do this research (e.g. experimental, design based, laboratory studies).
  • You indicate in which area of interest you think your research question fits.

Example of a research question

Evaluation of your application

The research coordinator of the Welten Institute, dr. Renate de Groot, will read and evaluate your application with respect to whether.

  1. you have the right prerequisite schooling and knowledge,
  2. your research question fits into Welten Institute's research programme and
  3. your research question is sufficiently concrete to serve as a basis for a preliminary conversation with her or one of the other professors of Welten Institute.

You will possibly be asked to make your research question more concrete, or to adjust your question so as to fit the programme better. If the evaluation is positive and the research question is sufficiently concrete, you will be invited for a preliminary conversation (intake) with the research coordinator or the professor who is - considering the research question - the most likely future PhD supervisor.


At the intake, you will meet the research coordinator or the intended supervisor. One of the goals of the intake is to determine whether there is a good match between the research programme and the research that you want to do. If there is a match, you will be asked to elaborate your research question into a full research proposal. The supervisor of the Welten Institute will support you in this process. At this point in time the persons involved in this preparatory phase of the PhD trajectory will sign a declaration of intent to come to a research proposal of good quality. Once-only costs are attached to this preparatory phase.

Research proposal

You will elaborate the research question into a full research proposal (in English). Generally this takes about six months. The research proposal contains the research question, a problem definition, the research methodology, the scientific (theoretical) justification and background of your research, the expected scientific output, its practical use, references, and a cost estimate.

Example of a research proposal

PhD contract

This research proposal should be approved by the PhD supervisor, the programme director of the area of interest in which it will be carried out and an expert commission. The actual PhD trajectory begins only after formal approval. This trajectory is not without obligations on both sides.

Therefore you and the institute will draft an individual Education and Supervision Plan and a PhD contract that both will sign. If applicable your employer and your daily supervisor will also sign this contract.

The contract can contain agreements on, for example:

  • the goals of the research, the PhD supervisor(s), the duration of the trajectory, the milestones, and the moments and method of midterm evaluation.
  • the amount of time that you, as external PhD, will invest in your research project in the coming years.
  • the amount of time your supervisors will invest in your guidance and supervision in the coming years.
  • the facilities that the Open Universiteit will make available to you.
  • the obligations of the Open Universiteit, the PhD candidate and if relevant his/her employer.
  • the fee the PhD candidate has to pay for the (obligatory) courses, workshops etc.
  • agreements on intellectual property.
  • agreements on confidentiality.
  • et cetera.

The contract will be signed by the external PhD candidate, the PhD supervisor and the dean of the Faculty Psychology and Educational Sciences or his mandated replacement. If relevant your employer will be asked to co-sign the contract. This is relevant, for example, if you want to carry out the research (partly) at your workplace, or if your employer allows you to do your research (partly) during working hours. This way you and the institute will have a guarantee that the research can be carried out and completed.

Example of an individual Education and Supervision Plan

More information

A detailed description of the PhD trajectory can be found in the Welten Institute PhD guide.


  1. Here you'll find the list of promotions at the Welten Institute and its predecessors CELSTEC and LOOK since 2002. [link]
  2. A to-do list for the last phase of the PhD project.
    PhD graduation procedure - step-by-step plan (English)
  3. The doctorate regulations of the Open Universiteit approved by the Doctorate Board of the Open Universiteit. These regulations apply to internal and external PhD's.
    Doctoral Regulations of the Open University of the Netherlands (English)
  4. Ethical approval: The Research Ethics Committee (cETO) is a university-wide advisory committee, appointed by the Executive Board of the Open University of the Netherlands (OU). It operates under the deans of the Faculties. On request, the cETO:
    - Assesses whether or not studies involving human participants performed by researchers, (external) PhDs and students of the OU fall within the scope of WMO (Medical Research Involving Human Participants Act (Wet medisch-wetenschappelijk onderzoek met mensen, WMO).
    - Assesses studies not covered by WMO rules performed by researchers, (external) PhDs and students for ethical acceptability.
  5. Need inspiration? Check out the current PhD projects.

Further information (in Dutch) can be found at the OU-site