Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology

Our leading PhD Program

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. This four year program is fully taught in English.

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 330 PhD graduates have defended their theses at the ICS.

See current PhD projects and Alumni projects 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.

Your first year

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 at all four locations: University of Groningen (RUG), University of Utrecht (UU), Radboud University (RU) and University of Amsterdam (UvA).

Forum Days
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.

Your second year

Masterclass & Webinars
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.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic which started in 2020, we were not able to invite guest from abroad. Instead we now organize a Webinar Series. Several successful ICS alumni were invited to discuss a paper with the 2nd and 3rd year PhD students. Additionally, there would be focus on career development.

Your third and fourth year

In the third or fourth year, depending on the status of the research project, PhD students will go for a traineeship at another well-established research institute in the Netherlands or abroad. The Traineeship proposal form can be downloaded here.

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

Year group 2019

ICS jaargroep 2019 web3

Year group 2020

Picture year group 2020

Year group 2021

Year Group 2021 - sept 2021

Year group 2022

ICS jaargroep 2022 P1090596 def

Year group 2023

Picture Year group  2023

After your PhD

PhD students who finish their PhD end up at various place word wide, e.g.

  • Universities and Research Institutes world wide
  • Consultancy agency’s (e.g. KPMG, Bridges-KARR Consultancy)
  • Eurofound (European Foundation for the Improvement of Working and Living Conditions)
  • Amsterdam University Press
  • Bildungsbüro
  • Local government as well as national government organizations
  • African Society for Environmental Management

In the Netherlands:

  • Diverse ministeries bij de Nederlandse overheid
  • Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS)
  • Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (SCP)
  • Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum (WODC)
  • Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid (WRR)
  • RIVM
  • UWV
  • De Rekenkamer
  • Jeugdhulp
  • Raad van State
  • Raad voor Volksgezondheid en Samenleving
  • Diverse nationale kranten
  • Diverse banken, verzekeringen

In the spotlight

Private: SOCION: 30 million euros for social cohesion research

The SOCION consortium, in which social sciences and humanities researchers from five different knowledge institutions are conducting research on social cohesion, has secured a €30 million Summit Grant

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