Can I make a PhD in ECCO from a distance?

Can I make a PhD in ECCO from a distance?

In principle, yes; in practice, this is not recommended.

It is possible to do most of your PhD research without actually residing in our center in Brussels. This may be interesting for people who have a job or other responsibilities abroad, but still have sufficient free time to work at least 50% of their time on a PhD. In that case, you can keep contact with us via email, sending us your papers, proposals and reports, and coming from time to time to visit the center. When the thesis is (almost) ready, a defense of the finished work can then be organized in Brussels.

In practice, however, people starting to work on a PhD in this way are most likely to give up before the thesis is ready, or even before any concrete results are achieved. With plenty of distractors (family, other work, ...), and little direct stimulation or supervision from colleague researchers and promotor, it is difficult to remain focused on such a complex and long-term task as writing a PhD. Moreover, the lack of direct interaction and feedback leads to the classic "loneliness of the PhD student" syndrome, that saps self-confidence and motivation, and promotes endless procrastination.

Up to now, in ECCO we know of only one case (out of many who started) of someone effectively succeeding in getting a PhD without being regularly present at a university research center. But over the years that person did spend at least one and half year of "sabbatical leave" from his day job, visiting different research centers around the world, so as to interact with the active scientists in the domain...

In conclusion, if you convince us that you have the motivation, autonomy, intellectual capabilities and ideas to start doing research on your own, we are willing to give you a chance working remotely. But the risk is really yours: since we cannot offer you the same amount of supervision and feedback as someone working here, it will be up to you to make the best of it, knowing the very real risks of investing a lot of enery but without ending up with any finished product...

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