Applications – FAQs

Who may apply?

Doctoral studies at EPFL usually begin after a Master’s degree in the relevant discipline. Candidates with a 4-year or 5-year Bachelor’s degree may also apply, but they should explain the specifics of their education in the Statement of Objectives letter.

If you are currently enrolled in a M.Sc. degree program, your application will be considered for admission before you obtain your Master’s degree; however, you must have your degree in hand at the time you arrive at EPFL for your doctoral studies.

You must be proficient in English to pursue your doctoral studies at EPFL. For foreign applicants whose first language is not English or French, we strongly recommend that they provide us with the results of the TOEFL and/or GRE test. The results of the GRE general test is not required but recommended. The EPFL institution code is 3253; there is no department code needed. If you submit your test through the testing institution, please advise the secretariat of the doctoral program you are applying to.

Is there an application fee?

EPFL does not charge any application fee.

Should I be able to speak French?

EPFL is situated in the French-speaking part of Switzerland (Suisse Romande), where French is the language of daily interaction and of most undergraduate teaching. EPFL is also a high-level international institution: a large proportion of our research and our Master and PhD level courses is conducted in English.

Although you do not need to be able to speak in French to begin doctoral studies at EPFL, for convenience and personal enrichment we strongly encourage you to learn the language. A language center on the EPFL campus enables new doctoral candidates to learn French quickly, efficiently, and free of charge. You also have the opportunity to take courses to help you bring your level of written and spoken English up to the high standards required in international research.

Courses in two of Switzerland’s other national languages, Italian and German, are also available.

Do I need GRE, TOEFL or IELTS results?

As a general rule, the EPFL Doctoral School does not require GRE, TOEFL or IELTS results. Nevertheless, a specific doctoral program may decide to require one or more of these certificates, or may take it into consideration when evaluating your application. You should check with the doctoral program you wish to apply to – usually you will find this information on their website.

I don't hold yet my official diploma? What should I do?

As long as you provide official transcripts and confirmation that you have completed all requirements for your degree with your application, we can accept the final and original diploma of your advanced studies (usually the Master’s degree) at the time of enrolment. This document must be provided to the Doctoral Students’ Office as soon as possible, and at the latest during your admission for preparation of the thesis (“definitive admission”). We will be unable under any circumstances to continue your admission without this document.


If this is your first visit to EPFL’s Doctoral School application website, please create an account with a valid email address and the password of your choice.

Once you have created your account, you may return whenever you wish to modify or consult your application(s). To log in, enter your email address and password in the “returning user” box.

I have forgotten my password

After three unsuccessful attempts to login in the “returning user” box, you will receive an email indicating how to proceed to change your password.

The system is down

We run backup sessions every night between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. (GMT +1). During these sessions, there is no possibility to have access to the online application.

I have already validated my form, but have a few things to change

Application forms cannot be modified after they have been submitted (validated). Please email the administrative assistant of your doctoral program of interest to ask for the “devalidation” of your form. Do not forget to validate and, if required, print the form again after your modifications have been saved.

Please note that for technical reasons your referee details cannot be changed once you have validated your form. You should prepare your referees by ensuring they are available and willing to write your reference in due time before the deadline, and that you have their correct contact details well in advance of sending us your application.

EPFL will use the same referee details for a period of one year from the date you validate your application.

How can I replace or delete an uploaded document?

To replace a document you previously uploaded:

  1. If you have not yet validated your application (the red ◊ status), you can go back and upload the new document in the relevant place. It will automatically replace the existing document.
  2. If you have validated and submitted your application (the green ◊ status), you should contact the administrative assistant of the relevant doctoral program. She will be able to “devalidate” your application to return it to the red ◊ status, so that you can go back and replace the document (see 1. above).
  3. if your application is already in process (the orange ◊ status), you should email the document to the administrative assistant of the relevant doctoral program. She will be able to upload the correct document for you.

It is not possible to simple delete an uploaded document: it must be replaced by another. You should take the necessary steps to carefully prepare all documents before you proceed to upload them.

What does the diamond beside my application file mean? How do I understand the status of my application?

The diamond symbol shows the status of your application. Each color represents a particular stage in the process:

◊ (red) means “application not yet finalized and submitted by the applicant”

◊ (green) means “application finalized and submitted by the applicant”

◊ (blue) means “application finalized and submitted by the applicant, all referees have responded”

◊ (orange) means “consideration of application in process” – the doctoral program will inform you in due course of the result of your application (see below)

Please be aware that the change in status between green, blue and orange does not necessarily coincide with the application deadline.

Studies: what is a GPA?

The GPA (grade point average) is the average of your diploma grades expressed as a cardinal number.

Studies: what maximum grade should I indicate?

Please indicate the best possible grade (for example 6 if you obtained your degree in Switzerland).

Various grade systems in the world

Studies: where do I find the Swiss Federal matricule number?

This number can be found on your diploma (back or front), if you attended a Swiss High School.

My application has been rejected from a program. May I apply again?

You may apply to the doctoral program which rejected your application, if you can show a significant change in your application file.