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PhD-theses by Dutch universities

data publication
11 August 2022
PhD students university
How has the number of university dissertations developed between 1997 and 2020? And how many dissertations have there been per Dutch university in 2020? A dissertation, also known as a doctoral thesis, completes a doctoral degree. In this data publication, we share the figures regarding the size and development of the output in dissertations of Dutch universities, 1) distinguished by cluster of scientific areas and 2) per university.

In short

  • Over the years there has been an increase in the number of dissertations within the four science clusters.
  • The biggest percentage increase is seen in Medical sciences.
  • The University of Groningen, University of Amsterdam and Leiden University have summited biggest amount of dissertations in 2020.

How did the amount of dissertations develop between 1997 and 2020?

From 2000 onwards, the total number of PhD-theses shows an increasing trend. 2017 shows a small decrease in the number of PhD-theses after which it increases again until 2019. The decrease in 2020 might be a consequence of the corona crisis during which PhD-students were delayed and defenses were postponed.

This trend of positive growth is visible in every cluster. From 1997-2020, the share of the Medical cluster in the total number of PhD-theses has grown from 26% to 36%. The relative share PhD-theses of the Science & engineering cluster has decreased (from 44% to 39%), as has the share of the Humanities cluster (from 10% to 7%). The relative share of the Behavioural & social sciences has remained relatively stable, at 18%.


How many dissertations were submitted by Dutch universities in 2020?

The number of dissertations is related to the size of a university. Groningen University (RUG), the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Leiden University (LU) constitute the top 3 with respect to the number of PhD-theses. The Open University (OU) produces the smallest number of PhD-theses.