Urban Development and Governance

PhD programme


We welcome applications from prospective students with a wide variety of backgrounds, all related to the field of urban governance. Each application is considered carefully, taking the individual potential of the applicant into account. Before you start your application, please read the admission requirements and the application procedure carefully. 

Education backgroundWe require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree and a master degree from a recognised university in a field related to urban development and governance
Academic performanceWe require our candidates to have obtained at least second class upper, B, GPA 3.0 or an equivalent with the master's degree.
English language proficiency

If English is not your mother tongue, an English language test or, in some cases, other proof of English proficiency is required. We only accept certificates from TOEFL and IELTS as official language tests which are not older than 2 years at the time of the application submission.


  • 600 Paper-based test
  • 250 Computer-based test
  • 100 Internet based test


We require a result of 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6 on each sub-test. 

Exemptions from English language testing are possible, but not guaranteed, if: 

a) You have previously completed your master's degree through the English medium b) and you have graduated not longer than 3 years at the time of your application submission. In such cases students can submit the following two compulsory documents for consideration (not guaranteed):

  1. An example of a previously submitted, substantial essay or thesis in English.
  2. Confirmation from the institution that the language of instruction was entirely in the English medium.
Research interestYour research topic and the proposal must fit into one of the six IHS main research clusters


To apply for the PhD programme in Urban Development and Governance, you must fill in the IHS Online Application form and attach the necessary documents described in the Application procedure section below. Failure to provide all necessary documents as outlined below will result in your application not being assessed. 

Below you can find an overview of how the admission and application process for this PhD programme works as well as a careful explanation of every step of the application process. 

Application - How to apply for the PhD Urban Development & Governance

While submitting your online application, we require the following documents to be uploaded:

1. Research Proposal

The first step is to provide a thorough Research Proposal (5-10) pages. Please note that you must use the provided Research Proposal template which you can access here. Make sure your proposal includes the following elements:

  • Sound research question(s)
  • Work plan, time schedule
  • Methodology: research methods
  • Theoretical framework: perspective
  • Added value of the research for practice and science

Please note that applications, which do not follow the Research Proposal template, will not be assessed.

2. English Language Proficiency Proof

We accept certificates from TOEFL or IELTS as official language tests. Please note that TOEFL ITP will not be accepted as a proof of English proficiency for IHS.

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)*

Score: 600 (paper-based) / 250 (computer-based)/ 100 (internet-based)

More information: www.toefl.org
IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

Score: min.7.0, no subtest lower than 6.0

More information: www.ielts.org

Students who have studied previously in English:

If you have previously (within 3 years) completed a full university degree through the English medium you may not necessarily need to provide a proof of English language test completion. In such cases students can submit the following documents for consideration:

  1. An example of a previously submitted, substantial essay or thesis in English.
  2. Confirmation from the institution that the language of instruction was entirely in the English medium.

Please note that it is mandatory to provide a proof of English Language Proficiency. Applications without such proof will not be assessed. 

3. Curriculum Vitae (CV)

4. Academic diplomas and grade transcripts

A prerequisite for admission to a doctorate in the Netherlands is the Dutch “Doctoraal Examen”/Master degree. For holders of non-Dutch certificates the equivalent of the academic level has to be established before admission to the doctorate programme can be granted.

During the application process, IHS Admissions office does a pre-check on your previous higher education. After you are conditionally admitted to the programme and you will be starting your PhD at IHS (meaning that you have paid your tuition fee) you will be invited by us to officially complete this diploma validation process at the Central Admissions Office at EUR. Please keep in mind that this process can take up to 6 weeks. To avoid any unforeseen issues on your credential evaluation and the final result, we strongly advise you to submit the same documents which are required by Central Admissions office for the diploma validation process:

List of documents required by Central Admissions Office:

  • Legalised/ certified copy of secondary school diploma if available (but not compulsory)
  • Legalised/ certified copy of Bachelor diploma including final list of marks (complete grade transcripts)
  • Legalised/ certified copy of Master diploma including final list of marks (complete grade transcripts)

Important note:

  • Take care that the copies of your documents are legalised, well readable and fit for further scanning
  • In case your documents are not in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian or Spanish, a translation by a sworn translator in one of these languages should be attached to them. Please upload both the translated pages and the original pages.

However, we do understand that it can take quite some time and efforts to obtain the above-mentionned documents. If you are not able to provide those documents at the time of your application submission, alternatively you can use the simpler list below for the pre-check by the IHS Admissions Office so that you can have your PhD application assessed while working on those documents:

List of documents for the pre-check by the IHS Admissions Office:

  • A scanned copy of Bachelor diploma including final list of marks (complete grade transcripts)
  • A scanned copy of Master diploma including final list of marks (complete grade transcripts)

Please make sure your copies are either in English or in Dutch and the original documents should be attached to the translated copies. We cannot conduct the pre-check if your documents are in an language other than these two languages.

1. Reference letter

On the final page of the Online Application Form you are required to submit at least one reference letter. Please ensure that the details of the referees are clearly stated within the letter. The reference letter should be from a supervisor, manager, professor or any other person who has the ability to attest to your skills.

2. Organizational and financial support
  • Support letter from home organisation/employer (if applicable)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Financial support from home organisation/employer (if applicable)
    • Tuition fee
    • Travel cost
    • Medical insurance
    • Living cost

Once you have all the required documents ready, you can submit your application via our Online Application Form. It is a one-page form where you need to fill in your personal information, educational/professional background and your motivation for applying for this programme. Then you have to upload the application documents described in Step 1.

Please provide the most important publications and a short description of your employment history over the last 10 years (please upload your CV separately).

After receiving your application, an evaluation will be made of your documents and will be sent for advice to the IHS Research Committee and the Academic Director. Furthermore, a supervisor will be sought for the PhD supervision. Please note that this process can take 2 to 3 months. The call for applications for the PhD programme is ongoing (there are no fixed deadlines).

PhD Urban Development and Governance

Online Application Form

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