Doing a PhD at the API
As an active international research institute, the API also hosts a vigorous PhD program in Astronomy and Astrophysics, which offers research experience and training in the full range of research topics covered by the API, including star and planet formation and evolution, exoplanet atmospheres, black holes, neutron stars, astrophysical explosions and other transients. Our PhD researchers are hired for 4 years as employees of the University of Amsterdam. As such, API PhD researchers are paid a good salary (in 2018 ranging from €2,266 to €2,897 gross per month according to years-in-PhD, plus an additional 16.3% in vacation allowance) with benefits including paid vacation, sick leave, disability insurance, maternity and parental leave and pension contribution. In return, they carry out research under the supervision of two staff members (one advisor, one co-advisor – possibly from another research institute) within one of the API’s world-leading research groups. Our researchers also contribute a small amount of teaching (about 10 per cent of their time). At the end of the 4 years, the researchers must defend a written thesis (usually with science chapters corresponding to research papers they have written), to obtain the title of Doctor.
Availability of PhD topics and funding
PhD positions at the API (and in the Netherlands in general) are funded by research grants which are applied for and awarded to our staff. As such, it is not possible to join our PhD program and decide on a research topic later – you will be considered for specific PhD positions which are funded and offered by our research groups. It is usually not possible to obtain your own funding and use that to begin a PhD at the API, for the simple reason that we must pay our PhD research employees the full salary and benefits afforded by their position, which is usually a much greater amount than the PhD stipends offered in many countries. But if you are unsure and think you have an opportunity to bring your own sufficient funding, you should ask us.
For all these reasons, we are not always able to offer positions in all of our research areas. Fortunately however, we are very successful at obtaining funding for our research, so topics in most research areas will be available in any given year. If you would like to know whether a specific research group will be offering a position, feel free to contact the relevant member(s) of staff (see here for the research group listings).
A welcoming environment
We are an equal opportunity employer and greatly value the diverse nature of our institute. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability status. Consequently, we welcome applications from all over the world (more than 70% of our PhD researchers come from outside the Netherlands). Nearly half of our current PhD researchers are female along with half of our new staff (more than one third of total staff). We also strive to improve working conditions for all our employees. Our PhD/postdoc council listens to and represents the interests of all our non-tenured researchers and representatives of the PhD researchers and postdocs participate in our monthly API staff meetings.
To apply for a PhD position at the API you will need to have or be studying for an advanced (Masters or equivalent) degree in physics, astrophysics or a related subject. This will usually be a separate Masters degree, carried out after doing a Bachelors degree, but in some cases it may be an enhanced (4 or more years) single degree including standard Bachelor-level and more advanced courses. Our main requirement is that besides having done some advanced courses, your degree also includes a significant research project (at least several months in duration). If you are unsure, we can advise you as to whether your degree level will be sufficient before you apply. You do not need to have obtained your degree to apply: we only require that you obtain the degree before starting your PhD position.
Since the majority of our PhD researchers and postdocs and around half of our staff come from abroad, English is the main language of our institute, socially and for research and most teaching, so good proficiency in English is required. We have no formal requirements regarding English qualifications, but these may be asked for if we would like to be sure of an applicant’s level of English.
When and how to apply
The main application deadline for PhD positions at the API occurs in mid-late November each year – look on our job vacancies webpage (here) for details appearing around late-September/early-October, when the online application process opens. The process will also be advertised on the AAS Job Register. Our website will also list the funded PhD positions and topics which are available (these may be added to as new funding becomes available). You only need to submit one application to be considered for multiple positions. By late-December, successful applicants will be invited to visit the API for our mid-February `PhD recruitment days’, where you will give a presentation on your research work, meet the staff offering PhD positions and our current PhD researchers and postdocs and be interviewed for the positions which you are interested in. Offers for positions will be made late-February to March, with the positions expected to start in the Autumn of the same year (earlier or later starts may sometimes be possible and should be negotiated with the staff member offering the position).
Depending on availability, PhD positions may sometimes be offered at other times of year, so it helps to check our job vacancies webpage from time to time (positions will also usually be advertised on the AAS Job Register).