Find out all the secrets of pursuing a PhD in French-speaking Belgium

Enjoying international recognition, a PhD opens the doors to highly-qualified positions. It is a requirement if you wish to pursue an academic career. To study for a PhD in French-speaking Belgium, numerous universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation can offer thesis supervision. They allow the PhD student to continue their research in both Belgian and foreign universities.


What exactly is PhD education in French-speaking Belgium?

In Belgium, preparing a thesis consists of making a contribution to scientific research as well as training research staff. This 3rd cycle is the highest level of university study and includes:

  • PhD education: recognised by the awarding of a research training certificate, it is carried out as part of a research team and under the direction and responsibility of a thesis supervisor. 
  • The thesis: all work connected to preparing and defending a thesis, leading to the awarding of a PhD degree.


Welcoming international doctoral students

International doctoral students receive a warm welcome at higher education institutions in French-speaking Belgium. We make their careers a priority, offering a range of initiatives designed to guide and support these dedicated researchers. Here are a few notable examples that highlight our commitment to international doctoral students:

Spaces dedicated to collaboration and exchange
  • ULiège and UMons have created specialised hubs called PHDHouse. These spaces are used for exchanging experiences, encouraging collaboration and establishing essential links between researchers.

Active participation in university life
  • ULiège, like ULB, has a dynamic network of doctoral students. This network invites anyone interested to participate actively in university life, facilitating various activities that encourage fruitful exchanges and collaborations.
Valuable Advice Through Funny Videos
  • A series of informative and humorous videos, hosted by an experienced UNamur researcher (PHDChannel), offers invaluable advice. These videos address the crucial moments and challenges inherent in the PhD process, offering practical solutions and a healthy dose of encouragement.
Specialised MOOC for Post-Thesis Preparation
  • UCLouvain is offering a specialised MOOC entitled "PhD and Career Development", aimed at preparing PhD students for the post-thesis phase. This innovative training course draws on the expertise of a team of experienced doctors and doctoral students, incorporating advice from experts in career placement.
Promoting Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • ULB has set up a service dedicated to the promotion of research, highlighting the innovative tools and services developed within the university that contribute to societal progress.
Tailor-made mentoring programme for professional growth
  • The five universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation are working together to offer Team-Mentorat, a tailor-made programme available to current and future PhD graduates. This initiative aims to guide junior researchers in defining and advancing their career aspirations, whether in academia or in the private, public or voluntary sectors.

For more detailed information on these initiatives and the support available for international doctoral students, we invite you to explore the respective websites of our institutions. By providing these resources and fostering an environment conducive to academic success and growth, the higher education institutions of Wallonia-Brussels underline their unwavering commitment to the international doctoral student community.


How to study for a PhD in French-speaking Belgium?

Fancy studying for a PhD in French-speaking Belgium? Before starting the registration process, you must choose a thesis supervisor for the field of research you would like to study. You may define your proposal with him and discuss its feasibility or any financing. He will also help you determine a proposal to the membership of the support committee, which will be submitted to the PhD faculty commission.

To choose your thesis supervisor, take a look at:

The FNRS, an essential fund for PhD studies in French-speaking Belgium

The Wallonia-Brussels Federation numbers 21 PhD schools. Whether themed, inter-university, inter-disciplinary or international PhDs, they all aim to structure and contextualise the PhD training of applicants and are all connected with the Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S. - FNRS). For more than 80 years, the F.R.S. – FNRS has helped to drive basic research in French-speaking Belgium and has fostered excellence. By financing researchers individually and supporting certain research programmes conducted in the university laboratories, it fosters the production and development of knowledge.