Question: How can I apply?
Answer: You need to fill out the online application form, and send us the following documents. Please note that all documents need to be provided digitally, official documents need to be scanned:
- certified copies of bachelor’s and master’s diplomas and grades
- proof of proficiency in English – the minimum level accepted is 600 PBT, 100 ICT or 240 CBT (TOEFL) or 7.0 (IELTS). Native speakers and students who have received their bachelor’s or master’s education in English are exempted
- motivation letter (400- 500 words)
- two signed reference letters on original letter head (by current or former professors or employers) – that they will send directly to us.
- letter from current employer, including a statement of support of the GPAC² fellow and an indication of ways to support the fellow – that they will send directly to us
- one–page PhD research proposal
- curriculum vitae
- copy of passport
- passport size picture
Question: Am I eligible for GPAC2?
Answer: The requirements are available on the website: https://www.merit.unu.edu/gpac
To apply for the programme you will need the followings:
- a master’s degree from a relevant academic field such as economics, international relations, political science, law, social sciences, business administration, health sciences or public health
- basic knowledge of mathematics and statistics – measured by reviewing the content and grades of previous studies and/or the content and level of working experience
- basic knowledge of economics, social sciences, political science and/or law – measured by reviewing the content and grades of previous studies and/or the content and level of working experience
- proficiency in English. The minimum level accepted is 600 PBT, 100 ICT or 240 CBT (TOEFL) or 7.0 (IELTS)
- approval and support from current employer to participate in GPAC² training programme
Question: Is it the University that will send formal requests to the referees (former professors etc) for recommendations on candidates or it is the candidates who will make the request themselves to the referees?
Answer: It is the candidates themselves who is expected to ask their referees their willingness to support the application. The candidate will then fill out the names and emails of the referees in the application form. Upon completion of your application form, we request your referees to send us their letter. Once all letters are well received, you will receive notification that the application is complete and will be offered to our selection committee after the deadline.
In case you did not receive that information from our student affairs office, we recommend you to contact your reviewers, and instruct them to submit their letter of reference to the following address:
UNU-MERIT / Maastricht Graduate School of Governance
Mr. Daniel Beckers
P.O Box 616
Or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
You will be informed by email that your application is complete, once they all submitted a letter to us. Until you receive that notification, your file is not completed and will not be considered in the review process. In case the referee wishes to send the review letter to a specific person, please address the letter to Mr. Daniel Beckers (student affairs) or to Dr. Mindel van de Laar (programme director).
Question: Can I also deliver application files in person?
Answer: Our student affairs office is located in our building at Boschstraat 24, in Maastricht. You can deliver documents there, or if closed, leave them in our mailbox or at the reception.
Question: Should I contact the faculty member(s) before applying to the program?
Answer: We would not recommend you to contact faculty members before application. The application process is strict, and applying does not automatically mean you will be accepted in the programme. Our faculty members are requested not to assist you in drafting your proposal for application, as that would potentially create a conflict of interest during applicant selection. We therefore recommend you to review if your topic of interest is also a topic of interest for our institute. We recommend you to read the publications of staff working in your field. Once you are accepted and start the programme, we will assist you in contacting the staff members and invite them to the GPAC2 sessions.
Question: Is it possible to have letters of recommendation sent directly to the University via email (email@example.com)?
Answer: We kindly ask you to send them to the email address mentioned in the application form, firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the student affairs office email account, and not the institutional email account. Your application form contains this information, and your referees will be instructed how to submit the letter as well. But in the end, it is your responsibility to make sure the letters are sent, and we will only confirm to you the receipt of the final package. In case you did not receive it, it means we did not receive the letters yet.
Question: I am not sure that I can gather all the required records from my past universities in time to meet the application deadline. May I possibly request a kind extension to turn in all documents?
Answer: In order for us to process your file, we need all requested documents to review. If you know already now you will not be able to submit all documents by mail, please send us a pdf of the manuscript. If you know you will also not be able to offer a pdf in time, please indicate in your application package what file is missing, and when we can expect it to arrive, or who we can contact to get the required information.
Question: Can I visit Maastricht in preparation of my application?
Answer: Naturally, it is always possible to visit Maastricht. We will gladly meet you, talk to you to answer remaining questions and offer the option to talk to some PhD fellows in the institute. We will not offer assistance in preparing the proposal or other application documents content-wise, as that would create a conflict of interest during the review round of the applications. In case you are interested to meet us, please contact our student affairs office, to agree on a date that is convenient for you and us.
For the GPAC2 programme, we receive many applications. It is not possible for us to meet all of the applicants in advance, or discuss application files of each person individually. If you have any specific questions not covered on this FAQ, feel free to email us directly. We try to cover as many issues in a central way, and communicate our responses to all applicants if possible. This also ensures a fair application process. Meetings to discuss your application file are an exception.
Question: Can I be too young or too old for the programme?
Answer: Age is not a criterion we consider when selecting the applicants. We select on having obtained a relevant bachelor and master degree, as well as a few years of relevant work experience. Those criteria result in cohorts of mid-career professionals with a good job. We do find that GPAC2 fellows are on average older than full time (regular) PhD fellows. Most participants are between 30 and 60 years, with the average participant being around 40-45.
Question: How are my chances to be accepted in year one?
Answer: The GPAC2 programme receives many applications, and many applications are of good quality. On average per year more than 100 people apply and are eligible. On a yearly basis, we are able to select a cohort of around 12-15 fellows.
If you cannot fulfill the application criteria posted on our website, we recommend you not to apply. You will be considered ineligible, and the review committee will not process your application. In case you have questions on your specific file, please contact our student affairs office.
Question: When do I know if I am accepted in the GPAC2 programme?
Answer: Applications are due on the deadline indicated on our website. Before the deadline, we will not review any file. After the deadline, our student affairs office compiles the applications, the programme committee shortlists applications and our review committee will read the shortlisted applications and select the cohort for the next round. This process takes about 2 months. In this period, we cannot communicate on outcomes yet. We will communicate this outcome to you before 15 December.
Question: Can I apply to GPAC2 when I am on maternity leave?
Answer: GPAC2 is designed for mid-career professionals, with a job and ambition to obtain a PhD. The idea behind the programme is that your PhD trajectory will benefit from your work experience / data availability or time offered during office hours. In addition, we assume your job will offer you the security of a main source of income, and the GPAC2 PhD programme is not able to waive tuition of offer scholarships. You thus have to be employed and your employer needs to be informed and support your PhD track.
If you are applying while being pregnant or while on maternity leave, with the security you will be able to return to your job after your maternity leave ends, you can apply to GPAC2. In that case, we do need your employer to confirm they are aware you will apply for and potentially participate in the PhD programme during your maternity leave, and they should accept that you made that commitment to the PhD also after your return to work.
Question: Can I apply GPAC2 when I am self-employed or an independent consultant?
Answer: Self-employed people or independent consultants can apply to the programme. Instead of an employer letter as recommendation letter, we would like to obtain a description of your company (fact sheet, with 1) main focus / description, 2) list of consultancy jobs and/or revenue data for last 3 years, 3) starting date of self-employed/consultancy activities), as well as an explanation how you believe your company will benefit from you obtaining the PhD and how the PhD topic is related to the self-employment.
Independent consultants can be considered self-employed, or employed by various institutions.
Question: Can I apply to GPAC2 if I am not employed?
Answer: GPAC2 is designed for mid-career professionals, with a job and ambition to obtain a PhD. The idea behind the programme is that your PhD trajectory will benefit from your work experience / data availability at your work place or time offered during office hours to work on the PhD. In addition, we assume your job will offer you the security of a main source of income, and the GPAC2 PhD programme is not able to waive tuition of offer scholarships. You thus have to be employed and your employer needs to be informed and support your PhD track.
Question: What is meant with a letter from current employer, including a statement of support of the GPAC² fellow and an indication of ways to support the fellow?
Answer: GPAC2 is a dual career programme. We accept fellows based on past qualifications and current employment relevance. We also expect fellows to remain employed during the GPAC2 period, to create a main source of income.
However, GPAC2 requires time, and it is likely that employers will in one way or the other notice you are enrolled in the programme. At best, because they see the value of it, and encourage and support you in doing your PhD. But minimally they should be informed that you intend to start the programme, since you will be required to be in Maastricht 6 weeks in year one, and for 2 weeks in all subsequent years.
In order to assess to what extent and how your employer is involved, we request a letter from your employer (no specific format) in the application package. In this letter, they should indicate they are informed you are enrolled and are aware that once accepted it means you engage in a longer-term project that requires you to be in Maastricht a certain number of days a year. They can also indicate to what extent they will support you. This support could be by offering you leave days, by paying your tuition, by allowing you to work on your PhD during work time, by allowing you to use company databases, or other forms of support. And they can offer motivation what this PhD might be beneficial to them.
Since the support of companies varies per fellow, we cannot offer a format for the letter.
Question: Who can provide reference letters?
Answer: Your referees can be academic or practicioners. They can be past professors or teachers, employers, people you work(ed) with, as long as they can offer us information on your abilities academically or working.
Question: Can my referees be from the same organisation?
Answer: Yes, we ask you to provide three reference letters: one from your current organisation (employment letter), two from people you believe can recommend you. If the three people you have chosen are from the same organisation, that is fine. The referees will be informed to send us the letter by mail or email, you will need to register their names and email addresses in the application form.
Question: My referee cannot provide a reference letter with an official letterhead because he retired from his organisation. Is this ok?
Answer: Yes, as long as it is an original letter signed by the referee. In this particular case, please request them to add their contact information and working email account.
Question: Do you need original referee letters?
Answer: The referees are informed how to offer us the letters by mail or email. You as applicant cannot submit them – we need them to come from your referees directly. They can send them, or email them in signed format and we instruct them how to do so. So, they should read their emails. They will be notified immediately after you submit your application. In case they do not receive the email, either you filled out the incorrect email address (check that please), or the information might be in their SPAM box.
Question: How can I push my referees and employer to submit the letters?
Answer: When you use the application form, you will enter the contact information of your referees and employer. Please use the application form – this is how we know who your referees are. The referees will be notified by us how to send the letter to us. If you wish to push your referees to send a letter, tell them they can email the scanned letter and send the original letter to the address mentioned above (Procedure Section)
Question: Is it possible to provide you with the contact information for more than 3 referees (in case one or two are not able to complete the reference by the deadline)?
Answer: If you wish to request more referees to send a letter, please use the application form to offer the information for the 2 most relevant referees. They will be notified by us how to send the letter to us. The other referees can be contacted by you directly. They can email the scanned letter and send the original letter to the given address above.
Question: Can my current employer provide both reference letter and employer letter?
Answer: Yes. If want to indicate your current employer for both employment letter and reference letter, it is possible, but they need to submit two separate letters.
Question: My TOEFL is expired, can I still submit it?
Answer: An expired copy will do. In case we need an updated one, we will let you know individually after reviewing the documents.
Question: Do I still need a TOEFL if I am from an English speaking country, or if I have studied for my master degree in an English speaking country?
Answer: As the website indicates, if you are native speaker or studied in English for your BA or MA, you need not offer TOEFL. . Other proof of English will be considered upon provision of proof (for instance tests to enter work, or work experience in a native English-speaking country). Please upload your proof in the application form.
For further reference please visit: http://www.merit.unu.edu/training/dual-career-training-programme-to-obtain-a-phd-in-governance-and-policy-analysis-gpac2/application-admission/
Question: If I do not have a TOEFL exam, how can I prove knowledge of English
Answer: Proof of proficiency in English – the minimum level accepted is 600 PBT, 100 ICT or 240 CBT (TOEFL) or 7.0 (IELTS). Native speakers and students who have received their bachelor’s or master’s education in English are exempted. Other proof of English will be considered upon provision of proof (for instance tests to enter work, or work experience in a native English-speaking country). Please upload your proof in the application form.
Question: In my country, the next TOEFL exam date is passed the application deadline. Can I send the exam results after the deadline?
Answer: Yes, you can if you indicate your registration for the exam, as well as inform us on the date of exam and when we will receive the results. In case we select you for the programme, it will be conditional on passing the English language threshold. For further information regarding the application requirements, please visit: http://www.merit.unu.edu/training/dual-career-training-programme-to-obtain-a-phd-in-governance-and-policy-analysis-gpac2/application-admission/
Question: Do I need proof of English language proficiency?
Answer: Proof of your proficiency in English is required unless you are a native English speaker or have obtained a Bachelor or Master degree in an English-language program and in an English-speaking country.
If you have not obtained a Bachelor or Master degree in an English-language program and/or in an English-speaking country, you need to submit proof (a request for exemption) that you have worked in an English-language work environment and/or in an English-speaking country for at least 3/5 years.
Please upload a brief note (a request for exemption) under the box ‘Other’ if you want to apply for an exemption on these grounds. Referring to your CV is allowed but do elaborate on why we can exempt you from providing proof of English proficiency.
If you cannot be exempted from the English proficiency requirement, we need a proof of your proficiency in English. We accept a TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge English: Proficiency and Cambridge English: Advanced tests. The TOEFL code number of Maastricht University is 7102.
Maastricht University has established minimum scores for admission. For a TOEFL test, we require minimum score of 100 (IBT). For an IELTS test, we require a minimum score of 7.0. For the Cambridge English: Proficiency test, the minimum grade required is a C and for the Cambridge English: Advanced test Grade A is required.
Due to experience in previous years, we will also verify partial scores to ensure that all students are capable of participating fully. The requirements for partial scores are:
|Cambridge English:Proficiency||Cambridge English: Advanced|
N.B. Without fulfilling this requirement, your application is incomplete and will not be submitted to the Board of Admission for assessment.
Master degree/Bachelor degree
Question: Is it possible to apply before all of my grades are received?
Answer: It is not possible to start the program without having a fully completed an MA or MSc. If you can submit your grades list, and indicate completion before the end of the month of the application deadline, we can take your application on board for review. Nevertheless, we will not be able to accept you in the programme yet. In case you are invited to participate in GPAC2, you will need to send us the degree and complete certificate.
Question: What are the required documents concerning the grades of my Bachelor and Master?
Answer: We need the transcript with the grades, a document explaining the grading scale (if it is not on your transcript already), as well as a copy of the degree certificates.
Question: How do I get certified copies of bachelor’s and master’s diplomas and grades?
Answer: You will need to ask your higher educational institute, to either offer you a certified copy, or you can ask them to send us a direct confirmation / copy of your certificates. Universities should freely offer you the confirmation as you actually did graduate with them, but they might have individual ways of offering this confirmation to you or us. So, the best approach is to check with them, to find out how they prefer to handle this.
Question: I have original copies of my certificates. Will you accept if I make copies and certify with a notary public for uploading with my application?
Answer: For the application, you can send us the copies. If accepted, we will need the certified ones. For the application, the copies will do.
Question: Does my earned degree fulfil the requirements to apply for the programme?
Answer: Generally, a completed bachelor and master degree, with degrees and grade certificates, are sufficient to be enrolled. We will submit those documents to the Dutch ministry of education, who approves your entrance to the PhD programme. We accept you in GPAC2, conditional upon the ministry approving your participation, and we ask for their approval once we accepted you in the programme. If you, for some reason, believe your MA or MSc is not a generally accepted degree, please send us the pdf documents to our student affairs office. We will verify your eligibility.
Question: What is meant with an upload of a degree, a certificate and a grading scheme?
Answer: The degree is a certified copy of the degree from your university. In case you do not have such a copy, your university can offer you one or send one directly to us. We need these documents to ensure access to the PhD programme in Maastricht and we are legally not able to allow you access to the programme unless this certified degree is approved by the Dutch ministry of education. A certificate is a grade certificate, where we can see which courses you followed during your BA and MA, and your grades you scored. The grading scheme informs us if your grades were A-B-C, scale 1-5, 1-10, 1-20 and at what grade you pass/fail. Both last two documents are used by our academic committee to select candidates.
Question: In case I hold a research master, can I apply for entrance in year 2?
Answer: The Year 1 course material in GPAC2 covers PhD research methods, design and analysis classes. They are indeed similar to research master courses. Yet, we use the classes as tools to draft a PhD proposal, and the proposal is the main document based on which we allow access in year 2.
You thus cannot apply for year two of the programme. You will always have to participate in the first workshop in year one. During this workshop, we can assess your research skills and capacity, and review your proposal. For about 5% of the new entrants, we waive participation in workshop 2-3 of year one and allow them to start in year two faster (with only paying tuition for one year). However, in order to achieve that, you do need to submit a sufficient full proposal in or after the first workshop in March or the workshops in June/November, based on we will allow you access to year two in June.
Question: Can I submit requested original degrees past the deadline?
Answer: We understand that it is sometimes hard to offer us originally certified degrees. We need those in order to be able to formally register you in the programme. Generally, universities will send them directly to us, if you request them to send us a certified copy.
For the selection process, after the deadline, we will need readable pdf uploaded degrees and grade certificates. For registering you later, we will need the certified documents, but we can process your application if the pdf documents are available in pdf format.
Question: With what studies/ background can I apply?
Answer: The GPAC2 programme is a multidisciplinary programme. We accept applicants with a completed master degree in political science, governance, economics, public policy, law, public health. We developed the programme to account for all different disciplines, and allow fellows to write a dissertation within the discipline they prefer.
However, in order to be able to start a PhD programme in Maastricht, your master diploma needs to be accepted by the Dutch government. So irrespective of your work experience, previous research experience or other relevant skills, we need you to have a valid master degree, and you need to have finished the master.
In addition, we need you to be interested in a topic that our institute considers among the core topics of our interest. Please check out our research themes, or the list of working papers and dissertations, to find out more about the topics we cover in our research.
Question: How much does GPAC2 costs and how long does it take?
Answer: The programme is tuition based. In year one, tuition is 8000 euro. In the subsequent years, tuition is 6000 euro per year. Total tuition thus depends on the number of years you are enrolled.
How long it takes to obtain your PhD depends on your previous expertise, research experience, time available to work on the PhD and it is thus not possible to indicate a term. The fastest GPAC2 fellow completed in 3 years, the fellow longest enrolled graduated in 8 years. Fellows remained enrolled until graduation under 3 conditions: 1) as long as they are willing and able to pay tuition, 2) as long as there is (fast or slower) progress and 3) as long as supervisors are willing to supervise them.
Question: Is this program supported by NFP? Can I apply for NFP program with this program?
Answer: The programme is supported by NFP. Once you are accepted in the programme, we will also submit the needed documents to support an application – but only once you are accepted. For further information please visit: https://www.studyinholland.nl/
Question: How does application for NFP work?
Answer: We will first select the GPAC² participants out of all applicants. For those participants eligible for NFP, we will assist in applying to the NFP funding, as your institution of choice. You thus first need to apply for GPAC², and need to be accepted in our programme. Nuffic NFP has its own criteria for funding, and they select the recipients. If you are accepted in GPAC², and fulfill the NUFFIC criteria, we will assist you if we can.
Question: Are there any funding possibilities for students that are coming from developing countries?
Answer: GPAC² does not have scholarships available. We will support you to apply for funding, once we accepted you in the programme.
Question: Can European people can enter without paying tuition?
Answer: The GPAC2 PhD programme is tuition based. If European nationals can get tuition repaid, that is great. We will gladly assist in the process to do that.
To the best of my knowledge, EU tuition waivers apply to bachelor and master studies, I never heard this arrangement is used for PhDs. But if it is, we obviously encourage you to apply for the waiver at the institution offering it – or covering the funds in Germany. If you need information from us to apply for this, or any scholarship, we gladly assist.
But we as programme need the tuition payment in order to enroll you, independent of your host country. Maastricht University does not offer tuition waivers, nor does the School of Governance / UNU-MERIT.