Doctorate - FAQ

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about PhD:

Doctoral student status

  • What are the role(s) and status of a Doctoral student?

    Someone who works on a doctoral project is a postgraduate student insofar as he/she must enrol and pay the tuition fees (See the Admission section). Besides being a student, though, he/she is a researcher, that is, someone conducting research in compliance with the international academic requirements in his/her field of specialization. He/she may conduct scholarly research part time or full time, out of private funding, on a fellowship or through an Assistantship contract – in the last case, he is at the same time a student and an instructor.

  • What’s the difference between a Master’s Thesis and a Doctoral Thesis?

    Unlike a master’s thesis, a doctoral thesis is expected to contribute to the ongoing academic dialogue in a given field and to advance the research agenda within the domain in question. In other words, a doctoral thesis illustrates an original piece of research contributing to the development of a given area of knowledge. As such, a doctoral thesis is meant for Publication and its evaluation is considered as a form of peer review, as a doctoral student is de facto a junior researcher.

  • What is the role of a Thesis’ supervisor within a Doctoral student’s research project? What are his/her duties towards a Doctoral student?

    No doctoral research project can be implemented without the approval of a thesis’ director (or supervisor), who may also provide the funding for its implementation. The thesis’ director provides support in the theoretical definition and the practical implementation of the project with a view to ensuring that it will be relevant to current research. The supervision also includes Additional Training aiming to enhance the student’s skills and to build a scholarly background through the participation in relevant conferences, summer schools and workshops. 


Employment contracts

Social security benefits

  • Have Doctoral students a right to maternity leaves?

    Yes, they have a right to maternity leaves - like all other employees at the university. In case of maternity leave, the replacement request is to be addressed to the Administrative Director Assistant or the Chief of Staff. If the doctoral student in question is on the SNSF payroll, the SNSF should be informed as soon as possible.