Are you ready to make an original contribution to science? Then you’ve probably considered pursuing a research-based PhD.

The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) guides PhD candidates along the path to become independent researchers and offers PhD training in all its fields of expertise, in collaboration with Belgian universities and universities abroad that deliver the PhD degree. The PhD trajectory typically takes four years.


ITM currently (co)supervises more than one hundred doctoral students. Half of them come from low- and middle-income countries and follow a sandwich PhD programme. Other PhD students are based at ITM and work as junior researcher or academic assistant, are hosted at ITM as FWO PhD fellow or university fellow, or self-supported. PhD applications by candidates – other than sandwich PhD candidates – are considered ‘light review’ PhD applications.

You can apply to the ITM PhD programme only if you have the formal support by an ITM supervisor. Thus, the first step is to discuss the PhD research opportunities with the professor or scientist in your area of expertise.


Different trajectories allow you to complete your PhD in collaboration with ITM:

ITM sandwich doctoral programme 

This programme is aimed at international doctoral candidates from low- and middle-income countries.

Deadline for applications: 15 September and 1 March, except for the Individual Sandwich PhD Scholarship Programme which has an annual deadline 15 September only.

ITM Assistant Academic Track

  • Main requirement: prepare a PhD thesis and to assist your professor in other academic duties including education and scientific services delivery
  • ITM employee (labour contract)
  • Consult the ITM research vacancies.

ITM junior researcher

  • Main requirement: conduct research in the context of a specific research project/projects
  • ITM employee (labour contract)
  • Consult the ITM research vacancies

ITM PhD hosting programme for university fellows or self-supporting students

  • Fellows with a scholarship from the Research Fund – Flanders (FWO - Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek), Flanders  Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Baekeland mandates (VLAIO - Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen)


To be admitted to the ITM doctoral programmes, you generally need to meet the following criteria:

  • You have to fulfill the academic admission criteria. The academic selection criteria of the PhD awarding university a priori apply. Request these from your university professor via your ITM supervisor.
  • You have the necessary language skills – especially important when your native language is different to the language of your thesis. Candidates who are non-native English speakers or who have not already successfully completed higher education in English, must be able to prove their language proficiency with a certificate from a recognised institution (required level: TOEFL paper-based 580, computer-based 230, Internet-based 88 or IELTS 6.5. (ITM Toefl Code 7727)).
  • You have found suitable supervision and guidance for your research. A supervisor at the ITM, at the university that will award the PhD diploma, and at your home institute in case of sandwich PhD track, should declare their commitment to supervise your research. The supervisors must be eligible as formal academic supervisors of PhD theses according to their national and/or institutional regulations.
  • Your PhD proposal has been approved by the ITM PhD Committee and the collaborating university.
  • You and your supervisors assured the financing of your training and research costs.
  • You have accepted the regulations of the ITM and your PhD degree awarding university.

Start your PhD now