PhD (“External PhD”) in Cross-Cultural Psychology

Tilburg Universit

Contact Fons van de Vijver




Obtaining a PhD (“External PhD”) in Cross-Cultural Psychology at Tilburg University, the Netherlands

This information is meant forstudents who would like to combine their regular work with a PhD project (dual trajectory of work and study, locally known as “an external PhD project”).

Who Is Eligible?

You need to be eligible to become a student at the Graduate School ( We need certified copies of your major diplomas. The Doctorate Board of the University takes the final decision about admission on the basis of information provided by the Graduate School ( The main criterion is whether your previous education record is sufficient to allow you to register for a PhD. A Master’s degree in Psychology or a related subject or an equivalent qualification usually is the minimum sufficient requirement, but in the case of some countries a degree may not be recognized as equivalent to the Dutch MSc. The assessment procedure usually does not take longer than a few weeks.

How Long Does a PhD Project Take?

The projects of PhD students who are on the payroll of the university take four years. It is our experience that PhD projects, conducted by students who have a regular job, take about the same time or longer, depending on whether they combine work with activities on their project such as data collection.

Who Are We?

We are a group of cross-cultural researchers at Tilburg University in the Netherlands that was started some forty years ago by Ype Poortinga. You can find information about us at

The research group works in the area of cross-cultural psychology. The major themes are:

  1. The relationship between cultural factors and human behavior and its development (in a broad sense, including experiences, actual behaviors, and inferences about behavior in the domain of personality, intelligence, and emotions);
  2. The methodological aspects of cross-cultural comparisons. It is the mission of the research group to enlarge our insight in the intricate bi-directional relationships between individuals and the cultural context in which they function and to disseminate available scientific knowledge, especially to the majority world.

Traditionally, the research group has focused on studies in which participants from different countries were compared. More recently, acculturation by immigrant groups in the Netherlands has been studied as well as attitudes of Dutch mainstreamers toward the multicultural composition of the Dutch society (multiculturalism).

There is a long tradition of research on methodological aspects of cross-cultural comparisons. The group strives to enhance the quality of cross-cultural research by improving designs and data analyses in order to counter rival explanations effectively and to arrive at valid inferences about cross-cultural similarities and differences.

Topics of ongoing research are

  • Acculturation and well-being
  • Assessment in multicultural societies
  • Autobiographical memory across cultures
  • Implicit and explicit motivation across cultures
  • Identity development across cultures
  • Parenting and implicit theories of development
  • Socialization in multiple-risk environments
  • Personality questionnaire development in (multicultural) South Africa
  • Equivalence and bias

Preparing a Proposal

Before you start writing the proposal, you should contact one of the staff members to agree on a topic. The first part of the application procedure will be writing a research proposal. This proposal will specify the topic of your study, the theoretical background, method aspects of the study, a time schedule, and a financial schedule. The topic should fall within the field of competence of the senior staff (

You can find information about our fields of interest at (Fons Van de Vijver), (Athanasios Chasiotis), and (Michael Bender). In cases where the topic overlaps with areas outside of cross-cultural psychology we can try to find a co-supervisor. Once the topic has been agreed, you have to write a thesis proposal. This need not be done in Tilburg, but we have a strong preference for this happening here. The proposal has to be approved by the supervisor(s) and by the Graduate School of the Faculty of Social Sciences before a candidate can be formally admitted to the Graduate School.

How Often Do You Need to Be in Tilburg?

In the course of your research and writing we need to see you regularly in Tilburg, even though we assume that e-mail will be the most frequent means of communication. The costs for travel and for board and lodging will have to be paid from funds supplied by you. We think that one visit per year is the very minimum. How long a visit should last also depends on the phase of the project, facilities (library, computer) that you need to consult, and the supervision that you require.

The Thesis

The thesis will start with a chapter that has a general introduction, followed by a number of chapters that are at the core of the thesis, and a conclusion chapter. The core of the thesis will comprise a number of empirical subprojects of the larger project. These chapters are almost always articles that have been submitted to relevant peer-reviewed scientific journals in the course of the project. Supervisors and collaborators (if applicable) are co-authors of the articles (the PhD student is the first author).

Examples of Ongoing PhD Projects

  • Development of assessment procedures or ADHD in multicultural school
  • Management styles in Indonesia
  • Identity development in different ethnic groups in South Africa
  • Bias in educational testing in Central and South America

More Information?

More information can be obtained from Fons van de Vijver (, Michael Bender ( or Athanasios Chasiotis (