Doctoral life

Pursuing a doctorate is a demanding journey – but we’re here to support you and help you reach your academic ambitions.


Who will support you?

Your supervisor

Being experts in your particular research field, your supervisors play a crucial role in your DBA journey. You’ll normally have at least two supervisors – one from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Ghent University and one from the Faculty of Economics and Business at KU Leuven. Your supervisors are there to support and guide you as you progress with your research and they assess your doctoral assignments during the learning stage.

Your guidance committee

The guidance committee – comprised of your supervisors and two or three other academics – is responsible for monitoring your progress through the annual progress report. When you finish your doctoral journey, they decide if you can submit your dissertation for defence.


The doctoral committee

This committee monitors and guides everyone on the DBA throughout the four-year journey. They approve proposals for your personal growth package, potential exemptions or alternative courses. They also act as jury members for your research proposal seminar.

The DBA team

Here to support you throughout your journey, the DBA team at Vlerick is your first point of contact for courses, organising assignments, conferences and your personal growth package. They also help with practicalities like arranging accommodation for residential visits.

balancing your workload

The Doctorate in Business Administration is an intensive programme. As well as plenty of research and study time, you also need to take part in personal growth activities.

There are mandatory elements and optional activities to include in your personal doctoral journey:

Mandatory elements

Before you can defend your PhD at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Ghent University or at the Faculty of Economics and Business of KU Leuven, you need to:

  • Pass five DBA courses (research methodology and transferable skills) 
  • Pass four assignments:
    • Written exam
    • Pilot study
    • Literature review
    • Research proposal and impact plan
  • Pass three doctoral seminars:
    • Research proposal seminar 
    • First doctoral seminar on paper 1
    • Second doctoral seminar on paper 2
  • Give at least two oral presentations at conferences
  • Attend at least two personal growth events
  • Complete your annual progress reports

Optional activities

Pursuing a PhD in your chosen subject is highly personal – which is why we offer a series of optional activities. You can choose the most relevant ones to add to your personal growth package.

Whether you want to deepen and broaden your business knowledge, switch careers or move into teaching, you can choose activities from the:

  • Teaching track: Enhance your teaching skills with preparation seminars and online courses
  • Research track: Broaden your research skills with academic writing and attending academic conferences
  • Business track: Expand your professional network, attend events specific to your field and take additional courses in your chosen specialism
planning your schedule

The programme is set up to give you maximum flexibility. You will only need to visit Belgium about ten times in four years to complete the mandatory elements – and where possible, we use online resources you can access from anywhere.

The lead-time for the programme is also flexible:

  • The learning stage can take from 18-24 months
  • The research stage can take from 24-30 months

You can also get an extension, as long as it’s approved by your supervisors and the doctoral committee.

& Rankings

Equis Association of MBAs AACSB Financial Times