A PhD at imec, a unique environment

At imec, more than 700 PhD students from over 40 different countries are working on the future of a better world. This is possible thanks to imec partnerships with universities all around the world.

Do you want to work in an inspiring international environment and get access to state-of-the-art research labs and clean rooms?
Do you want to enhance competitiveness develop your skills through specialized technical training?
Do you want to get in touch with imec’s global international partner companies and receive financial aid as a student?

Then you are the perfect match for a PhD at imec. Check out our PhD opportunities!

General information

There are two application windows:

  • From 15 October until 15 December 
  • From 15 February until 15 April


Imec itself is not giving PhD degrees but acts as a host research institute for PhD and postdoc research in collaboration with 5 Flemish universities: KU Leuven, UGent, VUBrussel, UAntwerpen, UHasselt. Imec has also signed dual degree PhD agreements with Flemish and international universities. Both engineers and scientists can apply because of the multidisciplinary character of our research. PhDs get supported by professors of both national and international universities, all of them experts in their domains.
Imec has a dual degree agreement with different universities. 

Imec the Netherlands is also looking for PhD students. If interested, go to https://www.holstcentre.com/careers/phd-opportunities/ to check the opportunities.

Application and selection process

PhD application timeline
  • Read the PhD Admission Requirements
  • Choose your topics (max. 3) and look up the reference codes (1812-01)
  • Collect your documents in pdf format:
    • Download and complete the motivation letter
    • Resume
    • Bachelor's degree and transcripts
    • Master's degree and transcripts
      If you have not finished your master program yet, you can submit your degree when you graduate. Do submit your master examination results available at the time of application.
    • Proof of your English language proficiency (refer to the PhD Admission Requirements for details)
    • GRE score (refer to the PhD Admission Requirements for details)
    • Ask two referees to fill out the  evaluation form  for you and have them send their input to phd@imec.be before the deadline (December 15 2018). The letters of recommendation are confidential and are an essential part of your application. We will not be able to process your application without the evaluation forms.
  • Go to the submission form by clicking on 'Apply'
  • Upload all your application documents in separate PDF files
  • Deadline before December 15 or April 15

Attention points

  • As our PhD students are selected based on a centralized application procedure and not by individual supervisors kindly refrain from contacting our professors directly.
  • Do not submit unsolicited documents with your application, e.g. do not submit high school diplomas.
  • We do not accept any revised documents or additional information after the application is submitted, so please be sure to review your motivation letter and other documents very carefully before submitting your application.
  • If we do not receive all required documents, including the reference letters, by the application deadline, your application will not enter the screening process.
  • If you are interested in the dual degree opportunity, please mention this in your application.
  • We will acknowledge receipt of your application by email. Please take into account that processing your application - especially around the application deadline - may take several days.

Review of application

  • When the application window closes, a panel of senior researchers and experts will closely read and evaluate your application file. Approximately one month after the application deadline, you will be informed whether or not you are selected for an interview with our researchers.

Interviewing with commitee

  • If you have been shortlisted for an interview, you will be contacted by email to fix a date. It will be planned as soon as possible but ultimately within 6 weeks after a positive evaluation in the first round.
  • The interview will be either via Skype, telephone, or face-to-face if you are residing in Belgium. During this elaborate in-depth interview both your technical and non-technical competencies will be evaluated. The interviewers will let you know how to prepare for the interview.

Final result

  • When the interviewing finishes, the PhD admission committee will consolidate the interview feedback and decide which applicants will be offered admission. The offers of admission are typically sent out 2.5 months after the application deadline.
  • Candidates who are not accepted, at any stage in the selection process, will be notified by email. If you have not heard from us regarding the status of your application, it is because a final decision has not been reached yet. We always communicate the final status to all applicants once the admissions committee has finalized their decision.

The entire procedure from closure of the application window to the final result takes about 12 weeks.

  • The imec welcome app will guide you through the onboarding process.
  • We will provide guidance with your academic registration.
  • Financial aid will be arranged by imec.

Corporate Social Responsibility

In the framework of Corporate Social Responsibility at imec we aspire to incorporate Sustainable Development Goals in our PhD projects.
Read more about CSR here.

Our goals:

  • Goal 3 - Good health: ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being
  • Goal 4 - Quality education: sharing expertise
  • Goal 7 - Affordable and clean energy
  • Goal 9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Goal 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
  • Goal 12 – Responsible consumption & production
  • Goal 13 - Climate action
  • Goal 17 - Partnerships for the goals

Testimonials

"I have obtained a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Nanoelectronics from USATU (Russia) and an Erasmus Mundus Master in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology degree from KU Leuven and TU Dresden. During the studies at KU Leuven I did an internship at imec. The company fascinated me with its state-of-the-art facilities and a unique position between the academia and university. Later that made me look for a PhD topic at imec and I was content to find one that fitted my interests. Currently, I am working on my PhD at imec. I find the program here to be challenging, but those challenges allow to gain broad skills and knowledge. I especially value the opportunity to work together with world-class experts on a topic that has industrial relevance. I also appreciate that one can use the help of technicians for a large number of standard measurements which is a great help for research. Another advantage is the supervising scheme where one has a promoter and a daily supervisor, which increases the speed of receiving feedback. In addition to the research aspects, I enjoy the international environment and numerous events help to integrate into the imec community."

Anastasiia Kruv – PhD student at imec

"A PhD at imec is for sure an exceptional opportunity to work in a professional environment and to see your ideas come to life. I have joined imec in 2015 as a KU Leuven PhD student after a Master in Telecom engineering with focus on transmission technologies. Imec’s mm-Wave wireless communication program for high data rate WiFi and 5G was thus a natural fit for me and it was meeting my desire to contribute to the 5G realization. Now, after 3 years of program, I have realized a 5G prototype reaching 4Gbps over the air using state-of-the-art transceivers available at imec. Apart from the learning and the results achieved so far, I have the possibility to exchange ideas with researchers from all over the world and to collaborate with them. Moreover, I am exposed every day to different branches of science and technology. The interdisciplinary environment turns imec into the perfect place to deepen your knowledge and open your mind. Finally, dedicated PhD events, such as workshops and happy hours, are a unique possibility to accelerate personal growth and improve your soft skills."

Steve Blandino – PhD student at imec

"Imec is a magical place and I am so proud that I was a PhD student at imec before. I’m grateful to my promoters Gustaaf Borghs and Guido Maes for providing me a freedom of scientific research, the opportunity to participate international conferences at least once a year, and the opportunity to be actively involved in EU, Belgium, and industrial projects during my PhD program. At imec, you can easily exchange ideas and discuss them with professors and engineers from different backgrounds such as electronics, information, energy, chemistry, materials, biology, etc. Moreover, imec provides world-class experimental facilities to realize your ideas. Thanks to good training in PhD program at imec, I won the imec PhD publication champion award (2009), Chinese government award for outstanding self-financed students abroad (2009), and Flemish FWO postdoctoral fellowship (2010-2013). These research experiences greatly encourage me to continue my academic research career. Currently I am a full professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and lead a group focusing on the research area of plasmonic nanomaterials for biomedical applications. The experience at imec has been an invaluable treasure in my life."

Jian Ye – professor at the School of Biomedical Engineering (BME), Shanghai Jiao Tong University

"I have worked on my PhD for 5 years in imec’s life sciences department. My time at imec has allowed me to grow from an insecure student into a confident researcher. I worked on biomedical applications of technologies that were being developed at imec. Pursuing a PhD at imec is a unique experience, as you work at a renowned research institute that has excellent ties with universities and industry. The research you perform is closely related to cutting-edge technologies that are used in products or other applications. During the PhD, you work as an independent researcher driving your own project in a very cooperative atmosphere. Experts within your department are available to provide you with guidance. Next to this, it’s easy to reach out to other departments and set up collaborations to advance your research project. You can work with state-of-the art equipment in ultramodern laboratories and clean rooms that are well maintained by experienced tool responsibles and lab managers. You have many chances to present your work within your department as well as to the entire scientific community. Imec has a large international PhD community, so it is easy to find likeminded souls to build friendships. I would recommend pursuing a PhD at imec especially if you are looking into a career in industry afterwards."

Evelien Mathieu – Post-doctoral research fellow at John Hopkins University

"I started my PhD in imec in November 2008, just after my 2-year Erasmus Mundus Nano master program. Being an undergraduate student major in microelectronics in Xi’an Jiaotong University in China, I was very interested in semiconductor technology, with the hope of learning more in my future study. I felt lucky and happy that I spent 4 years PhD study in imec, where I had the opportunity to learn the most cutting-edge semiconductor technology in a R&D environment. I learned a lot from various experts and made lots of friends. PhD was a rather long journey. But when I finished my defense in June 2013, I felt it was a right decision to start my PhD in imec. The facility and working environment in imec made my study relevant to the technology development, and I could contribute relevantly as well. I joined SanDisk (now part of Western Digital) in late 2014, as an assignee in imec. Being part of imec and continue being part of imec makes me proud. As an assignee and viewing imec from a different perspective is a unique experience."

Yangyin Chen – Staff Process Integration Engineer at SANDISK

"After my bachelor’s degree in Physics and Erasmus Mundus Master in Nanophysics in Leuven and Grenoble I decided I would like to continue working in the field of quantum computing. This exciting – and rapidly expanding – field is the exact combination between fundamental science, engineering and nanotechnology I was looking for. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that imec was starting to invest in this topic and even more so when I was accepted to work on silicon spin qubit devices. Although imec is not your standard university environment it has its unique capabilities and knowhow that can really boost the current efforts toward building a universal quantum computer. Since I started, I’ve experienced the enormous drive among the team for always-better results and solutions. The pressure that sometimes comes with that drive has pushed me since day one to dig deeper into the topic than I thought I would. Fortunately, I have never felt alone in that thanks to the great PhD community, some of them who will be friends for life. I am honestly excited for the coming years and convinced that here at imec we can make the impossible possible!"

Nard Dumoulin Stuyck – PhD student at imec

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