K.U. Leuven University Full PhD Scholarships for Developing Countries


The program is organized and managed by IRO, the University’s Interfaculty Council for Development Cooperation. This programme is intended for the student to do his or her whole research at KU Leuven; therefore, any other type of agreement (e.g. Sandwich programmes, etc) are not envisioned.

Over the past ten years, the IRO Doctoral Scholarships Program has supported over a hundred PhD graduates. Having obtained their doctoral degree from KU Leuven, the PhD holders are now utilizing their expertise back in their home countries either at a university (by doing academic research), government bodies, civil society organizations or in various sectors of the industry.

Eligible Fields of Study:

Doctoral or pre-doctoral programs in the Schools of Humanities and Social Sciences, Science, Engineering and Technology, or Biomedical Sciences. The research topics proposed by the KU Leuven Doctoral Schools can be found on their respective websites.


  1. The applicant must be a citizen of one of the countries on the OCDE DAC table that are considered as: Least Developed Countries, Low Income Countries or Low Middle Income Countries.

  2. The applicant may not possess a citizenship from an EU country. The applicant may not posses a long-term EU residence permit.

  3. The candidate’s latest master’s degree must have been awarded no more than ten years prior to 1 October 2017 (including the ongoing calendar year).

  4. The candidate must hold an academic qualification at least equivalent to a high distinction. Degrees obtained with a final score equivalent to second class second/lower division will not be taken into consideration.

  5. The research project must have excellent academic quality, with a special focus on the development relevance of the proposal.

  6. The vacancies that are published on the KU Leuven website are already funded and thus, cannot participate for this scholarship.

  7. The candidate must demonstrate a development-oriented motivation.

  8. The candidate must be supported by a KU Leuven promoter.

  9. The candidate must be supported by a local co-promoter at the candidate’s home country to ensure embeddedness of the research within the country’s context.

  10. The candidate must be supported by excellent recommendations from relevant referees.

Duration of Scholarship:

  • PhD: 48 months (4 years)

  • Predoctoral programme: 12 extra months (1 year)