When students have successfully completed a bachelor and a master programme, they can gain a PhD in the arts in a third cycle. The School of Arts organizes this doctoral degree programme in close cooperation with Ghent University, and the first PhDs in the arts were successfully defended in 2012. Applicants for the programme submit a research proposal to a committee of experts who evaluate it by criteria of artistic excellence and research methodology. Two supervisors coach the doctoral student in his or her research: one supervisor with mainly artistic expertise associated with the School of Arts, and a Ghent University supervisor with theoretical expertise. At the end of the programme, the PhD student applies for defence and submits his or her research results, consisting of artistic work and a written text, to a panel of experts from the academic and artistic field.
Doctoral research in the arts consists of an artistic and a discursive part and revolves around the student’s artistic or design practice and the research that is conducted through that practice. The particularity of the PhD in the arts lies not in the content of the research question or in the research path as much as in the specific way research questions are developed and studied. It is the artistic practice itself that both generates research questions and serves to evaluate the tentative answers to these questions. That is why it is essential that this research is undertaken by an artist who excels in his or her discipline: the visual arts, music, audio-visual arts or drama.