PhD Competence Model

PhD Competence model
The PhD Competence Model is a self-assessment tool to increase awareness of needed and acquired competences for PhD candidates, to improve career planning.

The Dutch University Medical Centers (NFU) designed the PhD Competence Model: an instrument to enhance the professional and career developmentof a PhD candidate. The model helps PhD candidates more efficiently direct their time towards improving skills areas that are most needed for their own personal career development.

We encourage PhD candidates to challenge themselves and model their ownlearning processes in order to become a highly qualified future professional in an international environment. The PhD Competencemodelis one way to encourage self-reflectionon capacities to further develop oneself. Seven competence areas are defined: at the centre Research Skills and Knowledge, surrounded by Responsible Conduct of Research, Personal Effectiveness, Professional Development, Leadership and Management, Communication, and Teaching. Each area comprises a number of specific competences. 

The PhD Competence Model is explicitly not designated for assessment or appraisal and for commercial purposes.This model can be used free of charge.


  • Download the tool via the website:
  • In order to use the PhD Competence Model application through the given link, an Excel file will have to be downloaded and saved locally. The model can be used by opening the file in Excel on a Windows or Apple PC. 
  • Evaluate the level on the given competence, using a 5-point scale from zero to five (excellent). A score of three reflects an average level based on peer group.
  • A PhD candidate can consult their peers and their supervisors for feedback.
  • Competences are shown in behaviour. Note the references and examples of behaviour used to evaluate a PhD candidate‚Äôs level on each specific competence, so that they can compare their performance levels over the years.
  • The final profile can be viewed in a spider graph. The results are available offline only.
  • The PhD Competence Model can be used yearly to monitor progress, and as input for career planning discussions or even for job applications.
  • We recommend that PhD candidates select a number of competencies per year that they would like to develop; the competence categories may differ per year based on their research goals and ambitions.
  • Use the completed self-evaluation as part of the individual Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) and extrapolate learning objectives for the coming year.
  • An overview of Erasmus MC Graduate School courses can be found In the EUR course catalogue. 
  • The model can also be used by postdoctoral researchers.