Join us

The Ghent Centre for Buddhist Studies is always looking for talented and enthusiastic people to join our research team. The Belgian government provides generous support for researchers, and we’d be pleased to host individuals who fit our research group. The process might be a little more complex than some other applications, but it is very much worth the effort, boasting not only a 30% success rate but also generous remuneration and health care.

Which fellowships are you eligible to apply for?

International students, researchers and professors

  • The Research Foundation Flanders (see below) offers 3-year junior and senior postdoctoral fellowships (deadline: early December every year; call opens in October) accessible to all PhD holders regardless of citizenship. Ghent university offers good candidates whose application was not accepted a second chance through funding of its own.
  • Visiting professors and postdoctoral researchers can also apply for funding (1 to 3 months) at Ghent University (under the section ‘Incoming stay’)

Additional opportunities for individuals holding a European degree

  • The Research Foundation Flanders offers 4-year PhD fellowships (deadline: March 1st every year; call opens in December) accessible to all students with a European degree. Ghent university offers good candidates whose application was not accepted a second chance through funding of its own

Additional opportunities for students from China

  • Ghent University can accept China Scholarship Grant holders (humanities are also accepted).

Researh Foundation Flanders (FWO) fellowship applicaton: A step-by-step guide

Note: We recommend starting this process at least 3 months before the listed deadline

Step 1: Determine your eligiblity based upon your current career stage

Apart from students holding the China Scholarship Grant, most of our researchers apply for funding at the National Research FoundationIn Belgium, research funding is allocated on a regional level. This means that the Centre’s role in your application will be to provide you with support and a space to do your research. The actual funding, however, will ideally (cf. infra) come from the “Research Foundation, Flanders” (FWO). As a first step, please read the information and eligibility requirements on doctoral, junior postdoctoral (not more than 3 years after completing the PhD), and senior postdoctoral fellowships (after completing a first postdoc anywhere, including in Belgium). If you want to make sure you’re eligible, describe your circumstances to us (details in the next step). Don’t forget to note the deadline.

Step 2: Get in touch with us

Preferably 3 months before the deadline, send an e-mail to explaining the nature of your research interests and how these research interests might fit the Centre’s research agenda (which is mainly India, China, and Japan). A list of our researchers and their speciaiizations can be found on our website. Append a CV to this e-mail. If we feel that you are a suitable candidate, we will respond with suggestions on how to proceed, including who we think would be a good advisor for your project.

Step 3: Create an FWO account

First, create an account. Account approval usually takes no more than 2 business days.

After logging in, fill out your personal information in the E-Portal. As a future service address in Belgium, put “Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent.”

Create a new application and click through everything to get an idea of what is required for your individual application.

You may find it helpful to consult the following templates provided by the FWO for filling out your personal profile and application:

Step 4: Start drafting a Project Outline

The project outline is the core of the application that will be very closely read by the evaluation committee. It is essential that it is: 1) deeply informed by existing research; 2) original; and 3) well-written. It should be aimed toward university-educated readers outside your specific discipline. This means carefully considering your usage of technical terms and briefly explaining the meaning of terms you use that might be unfamiliar to someone outside your field (e.g. vinaya, Dharmakaya, Dunhuang, etc.).

When we say that the outline needs to be “original,” we mean to point out that outlines proposing research that is merely a revision of previous work (a dissertation, an article) into a new format (e.g. a book) will not be successful. You need to propose research that does something new (but it is of course fine to draw upon work you have already done to do these new things).

Furthermore, the outline needs to be well-structured. As the application will inform you, the outline is 10 pages in length and must be formatted in 11-point Calibri font, single-spaced, and (at this time of writing, January 2024) consists of the following sections:

  • State of the Art
    •  This important section lists previous research relevant to your proposal. Apart from an introductory paragraph or two, you should not talk about your own research here but what has been accomplished already by others. 
  • Research Objectives
    • This is where you list the research questions your project will examine, as well as hypotheses on the results.
  • Methodology
    • Describe how you will investigate the questions above.
  • Work plan
    • Breaks down the research project in distinct time units called “work packages.” Often people use a table-format to describe this. Note that this is not a chapter breakdown or chapter outline (as are common in [post]doctoral applications in the United States).
  • Bibliography
  • Communication to a non-expert audience
    • This is a paragraph or two on how you intend to reach out beyond the walls of academe to communicate your research more broadly.
  • 5 main publications
    • This section asks for your 5 most important publications. Note that the FWO usually expects applications to postdoctoral fellowships to already have (forthcoming) publications in well-respected journals or have a (forthcoming) book.

There is a template available within the application that you can use for your first drafts. This template also provides additional information.

Step 5: Send the project outline to us for review + adjust the project outline in response to comments

Once you have finished a first draft, send the project outline to us. Again, this cannot be done early enough. Successful drafts usually go through a few review cycles.

Step 6: Draft the other sections of the proposal

As you will have noticed during Step 2, the project outline is not the only element required in the application, which also requires several mini-essays. Some of these sections are discussed below.


The application will ask you to select which internal FWO panel is most capable of evaluating your project. For most candidates sponsored by the Centre, this would be the “Theology and Religious Studies” panel.


The FWO describes the personal statement in the following terms: “The personal statement is your opportunity to discuss personal motivations, your (research) interests, your experience and activities, and future goals. The personal statement should focus on your personal background or experiences that have significantly influenced you or your goals. It should be a document that describes your abilities, skills, and accomplishments as evidence of your aspirations for pursuing a career in research.”

Whereas the other mini-essays mainly ask about your project, this section asks about you. Who are you? The essay is comparable to the “personal statement” required to apply to many universities in the United States: it must show the committee something of what kind of person you are. Do not neglect it, as reviews of proposals often contain references to this statement, meaning the internal expert panel attaches importance to it.


This mini-essay requires you to connect your work with the members of GCBS. Show how your research could benefit from collaborating with us. You can find information on our main research foci as well as who does what on our website.


One of the many attractive features of the fellowship is the bench fee, which is money that can be used for anything related to your research. One part of the application will ask you how much money per year you require. Make sure your estimate is justified by the actual needs of the project.

Step 7: Send the complete application to us for review + adjust the proposal in response to comments

Once we approve of the project outline, send us the complete application for review. In the online system, you have the option to print your entire application to a pdf (cf. image below).

Step 8: Submit the application online by the required deadline

Confirm with us that you have submitted the application, and make sure to save a pdf copy for your records.


If your application is not succesful with the FWO, it will be automatically reviewed by the BOF fund of Ghent University as well. There is no need to revise the application for the Ghent review board.