General information

An important goal of the ICS is to recruit the most talented PhD students and train them to become excellent independent social scientists.


Training of PhD students takes place within a highly structured four-year program.


During this period PhD students work on their PhD thesis and follow the PhD training program consisting of two courses, Forum Days, a masterclass, and an internship.


PhD thesis

ICS PhD theses typically comprise four substantive chapters together with brief introduction and conclusion chapters. The four substantive chapters often are articles or slightly revised versions of articles that have been or will be submitted to scientific journals.


Since 1986, over 200 PhD graduates have defended their theses at the ICS.


See current PhD projects and completed dissertations for an overview of all projects.

PhD students receive close guidance and assistance from their project supervisors and other ICS faculty while working on their PhD theses. Supervision of the research projects usually takes place in a team of two or three faculty members. In the composition of the supervising team the presence of theoretical, empirical and methodical expertise is of high importance. The PhD students meet frequently with their supervisors.



All members of a new cohort start the program together at the beginning of the new academic year. In the first year, PhD students follow two courses: Introduction to Theory Construction and Modeling and Writing the First Paper. Both courses consist of a combination of independent work and class meetings. Throughout the courses, students receive feedback and comments on their research projects and learn how to respond to and constructively use feedback and comments in revising own work. The courses takes place in all four locations: courses are given in Groningen, Utrecht, Nijmegen and Amsterdam.



ICS members meet regularly at so-called Forum Days. At these Forum Days PhD students present their research projects. Fellow PhD students and ICS faculty give constructive feedback on the presented projects.

First year PhD students present a first outline of their research projects four months after they have started (the December Forum Day). Later, in the following spring, they present the drafts of their first papers that they worked on during the course Writing the First Paper.



In the second year, a ‘famous foreigner’, an excellent researcher in the social sciences, is invited to give a masterclass for the second-year PhD students. During this masterclass PhD students discuss their work with the famous foreigner and their fellow PhD students. The masterclass is combined with the annual ICS lecture. An overview of previous masterclasses and annual lectures can be found here.



In the third or fourth year, depending on the status of the research project, PhD students will go for a trianeeship at another well-established research institute in the Netherlands or abroad. A list of previous traineeship locations can be found here.



Third- and fourth year PhD students present drafts of their papers at the November Forum Day.