To do:

The cum laude classification procedure is described in the VU University Amsterdam Doctorate Regulations, articles 31 and 32. Check these articles for full description and conditions

If the (co-)supervisor(s) and/or the members of the Doctorate Board are of the opinion that the PhD candidate has demonstrated outstanding competence in the dissertation, then the distinction cum laude may be awarded. They can and should individually propose the receiving of the cum laude distinction

In the Netherlands the cum laude distinction is reserved for theses that belong to the top 5% of the relevant research field. To receive the cum laude predicate:

  • the PhD candidate produced a thesis independently and within a reasonable timeframe
  • the student's research is innovative
  • it has an impact on the field of research
  • and belongs to the top 5% 

Necessary documents:

  • The manuscript

  • The procedure in Hora Finita


The cum laude procedure is strictly confidential. The Phd candidate is not informed about the possibility of a cum laude distinction

The procedure should be initiated no later than 60 days before the defence ceremony

The procedure for awarding the distinction cum laude is provided and communicated via Hora Finita and not through emails sent by the Dean's department or the supervisor

First step:

  • The supervisor assesses the manuscript and also answers the question whether or not they consider it to be eligible for cum laude
  • After review of the manuscript by all members of the Doctorate Board, the chairman is asked to give an overall opinion, including cum laude
  • The dean / department of Doctorate Affairs receives a message from Hora Finita that the manuscript has been reviewed and both are also notified if one or more reviewers think the manuscript is outstanding and eligible for cum laude

Second step:

  • Based on the chairman’s opinion, the assessments and the cum laude proposals, the dean assesses:
    A) whether the manuscript is approved and
    B) whether the committee members (in accordance with PhD regulations) should be asked for advice on starting the cum laude procedure (the checkbox 'Yes I recommend starting the cum laude procedure')

    • If the answer to both A and B is 'yes', the committee members are requested to advise within 14 days

    Third step:

    • If there is more than one vote against, the procedure will not be continued
    • If there is no more than one vote against, an email will be sent to the supervisor to suggest names of four external referees (preferably from abroad) in Hora Finita
    • The dean receives a request through Hora Finita to choose two referees, who will automatically receive an invitation from Hora Finita to submit their recommendations to the Dean in confidence via Hora Finita

    Fourth step:

    The referees are asked to assess the manuscript by email, sent through Hora Finita, according to the following criteria:

    In the Netherlands, the cum laude distinction is only awarded to theses that belong to the top 5% of the relevant research field. When determining this, one can pay attention to the following criteria:

    • the importance of the subject
    • the importance of the problem definition and a sharp profiling thereof
    • the originality of the approach
    • the scientific level of organization, analysis and processing of the material
    • the purity of the methodology used in this analysis
    • the derivation of new insights and new ideas
    • a critical confrontation of one’s own conclusions with existing theories or views
    • a creative approach to the scientific field covered in the thesis
    • self-restraint in the drafting of the text
    • balance in the structure of the thesis and clarity of the style

    Fifth step:

    After assessment and positive advice from both the referees, the procedure will be continued, which means that during the meeting after the defence it will be decided whether the distinction cum laude will be conferred or not. The distinction cum laude is not awarded if more than one of the persons entitled to vote in the meeting votes against

    If one or both of the referees have advised negatively, the procedure will be ended and the distinction cum laude is not awarded