EPFL PhD Excellence Program
About the program
The EPFL PhD Excellence program is aimed at doctoral students interested in pursuing a career in a non-academic sector after their studies and it will complement their training as first-class scientists at EPFL by empowering them as engaged and active members of society and leaders of tomorrow.
This will be achieved by equipping them with the necessary transversal and leadership skills as well as by offering them a unique opportunity to connect with non-academic leaders (including alumni·ae) and to build a network of contacts with industry and institutions.
The EPFL PhD Excellence Program is one of the Equip Talent initiatives of the Student Support Program, an EPFL philanthropic initiative supporting students’ educational journeys. We would like to give special thanks to Fondation du Domaine de Villette and HOLDIGAZ SA for their generous donations.
Find out what current participants think:
For the full interviews, see our recent EDOC news article:
The program at a glance
- Give leadership and management skills
- Facilitate the transition to a career outside academia
- Build a network of industry and institutional contacts
- Provide a unique opportunity to enter in contact with non-academic leaders, including alumni/ae
The Excellence program will include a mandatory leadership training and coaching, specially designed and selected courses on the themes of communication, policy and governance, technology transfer, risk management and many others. Participants will also be able to attend networking and knowledge exchange events such as seminars, company visits and alumni meetings. They will have the opportunity to build a network of contacts with business leaders and non-profit organizations.
The elements of the program are:
- Leadership training and coaching (1 year, approx. 120 hours)
- Training in effective communication (2 days workshop, approx. 12 hours)
- Transferable skills courses selected from a list of courses specifically designed and selected for the group (6 ECTS)
- Networking events (1 per semester, approx. 40 hours)
45 doctoral students who have passed their candidacy exam will be selected for each call. Admitted PhD students will follow the program activities during the remaining three years of their PhD studies. At the end of the program, they will receive a certificate listing the activities and training they have successfully completed during the PhD Excellence program.
The program members will start with the leadership training and coaching, followed by the workshop on effective communication, which must be completed in the first year of the program. While the transferable skills courses can be taken throughout the program. As for the networking events, it is planned to organize one per semester.
The Program is available to doctoral students in all disciplines represented at EPFL provided they meet the following conditions:
- Not already following a customized curriculum, such as EPFLinnovators and EPFLglobaLeaders or being candidates under an inter-institutional agreement
- Have successfully passed their candidacy exam within the last 12 months
- i.e. Have matriculated at EPFL between April 1st 2021 – 30th April 2022 (be in the second year).
- Having the written approval of the thesis director to participate in the program
Applications that meet the formal requirements will be evaluated by the admissions committee.
The evaluation criteria are as follows:
- The level of excellence of the academic achievements of the applicant at the time of the application: academic results and progress in the thesis
- Motivation and evidence of the personal commitment of the applicant to pursue a career in the non-academic sector and to contribute to wider society
The admissions committee will rank the written applications based on the evaluation criteria and will invite the top-ranked applicants for an interview.
EDOC communicates the decision of the admissions committee to the applicants in writing.
There is one deadline per year for the submission of applications. The next deadline for application submission is March 10th, 2023 at 17:00h Swiss local time. The application will officially open January 10th, 2023.
Complete applications must be submitted by doctoral students in electronic format via the dedicated Google Form by the submission deadline.
Applications must contain the following documents:
- A CV (maximum 2 pages)
- The transcript of Doctoral School credits
- A motivation letter indicating relevant extracurricular activities, if any (max 1 page)
- Research publications or patents, if applicable (max 1 page)
- A letter of support by thesis director (using the template provided)
- In the case of thesis co-directors, both co-directors must support the application (either by both signing one letter or by submitting two signed letters, as preferred)
- A reference letter from outside academia (e.g. from an internship, or extracurricular activity), if applicable
- A short video (maximum 2 minutes)
- Introduce yourself
- Why are you applying for this program?
- What do you hope to get out of the EPFL Excellence Program?
- Bonus: If you were not doing a PhD, what would you be doing right now?
Call for Applications for the 2024 Cohort will open in January 2024.
Vice Presidency for Academic Affairs
AVP Postgraduate Education
EPFL E EDOC-GE
CE 1 631