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How higher education works in Switzerland and its European surroundings: a Bachelor’s degree possibly followed by a Master’s programme. Plus: advanced education and life-long learning, who’s who in Swiss universities and contact info.

PhD studies

A doctorate is an academic degree of the highest level. Research doctorate degrees are generally awarded after 3-5 years of postgraduate research and study, and submission of a thesis. Professional doctorates are awarded in the professional disciplines of, for example, law or medicine. A Master's degree - and a high grade average attained during the Master's studies - are the main pre-requisites for admittance to a doctoral programme. In Switzerland, only the twelve state-run university institutions of academic learning (10 cantonal universities, plus 2 Federal Institutes of Technology) are allowed to award doctoral degrees.

Application to a doctoral programme is subject to specific conditions, the most important of which are the acceptance of the thesis proposal by the Faculty and a professor willing to be the supervisor. For international students, the application process can take some time. It is therefore advisable to carefully check each university's website for conditions of admission.

The doctoral candidate must perform original research for the thesis and defend the thesis content before a committee of professors. In some universities, depending on the Faculty or the field of research, the student must also complete an advanced course of study, and pass comprehensive examinations on the subject, or/and attend specific doctoral seminars offered by the university.