What does the third cycle research in the arts mean? The third cycle in the arts is the phase that follows after completing a bachelor and a master in higher art education. It is in fact the finalization of the Bologna process. The term ‘third cycle’ does not necessarily mean a PhD trajectory, but this a possibility. It concerns a phase of relevant and deepening research, with a strong connection to practice.

Third cycle research in higher art education in the Netherlands is in development, but in the meanwhile more and more experiments occur with alternative forms that connect to the art practice. Creating and research herein (artistic research) is an intangible part of this trajectory. The third cycle is about relevant and qualitative research with a strong connection to practice. The impact and social importance are also considered important criteria.

Third cycle trajectories are almost always a (regional) collaboration between university and higher education institutions. The universities are currently the only knowledge institutions with the so-called legal promotion rights.


What initiatives are there currently?

In the Netherlands (and Belgium), PhDArts, DocARTES can be followed as a specific third cycle pathway in the arts that leads to a title with artistic research as an important component. Creator Doctus is a pilot from an Erasmus + program, which may lead to a new recognized trajectory.

GRASS, RASL, Maastricht Graduate School are currently developing third cycle programs. They work from a regional collaboration with several knowledge institutions (university and higher education institution).

There are also some preparatory trajectories for the third cycle in the arts, in which attention is paid to developing a research proposal and building a research environment or consortium. These include THIRD and a pre-PhD HKU pilot. The Kunst Onderzoek platform also started in 2019 with a national pilot group.


Other initiatives

ARIAS is an advisory and programming platform that focuses on research in the arts and the importance of the third cycle in the arts.


European policy context

In 1999 the Bologna Declaration was published on the third cycle in higher education

Florence Principlesposition paper on doctorates in the arts (ELIA, e.a 2016)

art research