Visiting Doctoral Students

Coming to EPFL as a visiting doctoral student – new process starting June 1st, 2020

Campus EPFL

If you are currently doing a PhD at another university in Switzerland or elsewhere in the world and you have been in contact with an EPFL Professor to spend a few weeks/months at EPFL to do part of your research, the information below is for you. If you are an EPFL administrative assistant and are struggling to know what to do when a visiting PhD student contacts you, this page is also for you.

Visiting doctoral students must be registered (enrolled) by the Registrar’s office before they start their project at EPFL.

This page is intended for both the visiting doctoral students and the EPFL hosting laboratories administrative assistants.

The visiting doctoral student and the EPFL hosting lab Professor should first discuss the terms of the stay at EPFL. The discussion should include :

  • how long the project will last (start and end dates),
  • the location of the project,
  • the type of supervision the visiting doctoral student will receive from the EPFL hosting Professor,
  • the nature of the project,
  • the financial aspects (see below),
  • the infrastructure (lab, material, desk, etc.) the visiting Doctoral student will have access to,
  • Any other relevant topic related to the project

EPFL requires that every visiting doctoral student has the equivalent of CHF 2’500.- per month during his/her stay at EPFL. This amount can come from different sources:

  • The salary from their home university
  • A third-party scholarship
  • A scholarship from the EPFL hosting lab

Each visiting doctoral student must inform his/her EPFL hosting lab of any income they will receive during their stay at EPFL. If the income is less than CHF2’500.- per month, the EPFL hosting lab must provide the difference. Self-funding by the visiting doctoral student is not allowed.

The amount of CHF2’500.- is a minimum and a maximum to be considered a scholarship, it is meant to cover housing+meals costs.

Please note that it is possible for the visiting doctoral student’s home salary or third-party scholarship to exceed CHF30’000.- annualy. In this case, the hosting lab does not have to provide any scholarship, nor should EPFL pay any social charges.

If the EPFL hosting lab wishes to pay more than CHF30’000.- annualy, it will be considered as salary, and social charges and tax at source will be deducted. The visiting doctoral student must then be hired as an EPFL employee (see Category 4b on this page (only accessible to EPFL employees)).

Examples:

  • The visiting doctoral student will earn CHF 1’000.- as salary from their home university and no other scholarship. In this case, the EPFL hosting lab should offer a CHF 1’500.- monthly scholarship
  • The visiting doctoral student will receive a CHF1’800.- scholarship from a third party during their stay at EPFL. In this case, the EPFL hosting lab should offer a CHF 700.- monthly scholarship
  • The visiting doctoral student will earn CHF 800.- as salary from their home university + a third-party scholarship of CHF 1’200.-. In this case, the EPFL hosting lab should offer a CHF 500.- monthly scholarship
  • The visiting doctoral student will receive a CHF2’700.- scholarship from a third party during their stay at EPFL. In this case, the EPFL hosting lab will not offer any scholarship to the visiting Doctoral student

Once the visiting doctoral student and the EPFL hosting lab Professor have agreed upon the terms of the stay at EPFL, including the financial aspects, the EPFL hosting lab should send the visiting doctoral student an invitation letter based on the 2 templates available on this page (only accessible to EPFL employees) > catégorie 4a – Doctorants en échange:

  • Template 1: invitation letter without scholarship from EPFL
  • Template 2: invitation letter with scholarship from EPFL

Once the visiting doctoral student has received the invitation letter from the EPFL hosting lab, they should complete the application form.

The following information is required before submitting the form:

  • the duration of your stay (start and end dates must match those mentioned on the invitation letter)
  • The name of your EPFL hosting Professor
  • The address of your EPFL hosting lab
  • The email address of your EPFL hosting lab administrative assistant
  • The name of the EPFL doctoral program you will be affiliated to
  • a copy of your ID card or passport
  • a certificate of enrolment from your home university
  • a recent passport-size digital photo for your student Card
  • a copy of the invitation letter sent by your EPFL hosting lab

Once the form is filled, please send it by email – with attachments – to [email protected]. We will then handle your registration.

Once your registration is accepted, the acceptance letter will be sent to the email address you have mentioned in the application form. A sample of this letter is available on this page (only accessible to EPFL employees) > catégorie 4a – Doctorants en échange.

An email with the EPFL electronic access will be sent to the email address mentioned in your form shortly before the beginning of your project.

  • If you need a visa to study in Switzerland, the registration deadline should be 4 months before the beginning of the project
  • If you do not need a visa to study in Switzerland, the registration deadline should be at least 1 month before the beginning of the project
  • The visiting doctoral student is registered as a doctoral student at another university in Switzerland or elsewhere.
  • They actively participate in EPFL’s research, doctoral training, in their hosting lab.
  • They agree to follow the EPFL general rules, code of honour and the ethical guidelines in research.
  • The visiting doctoral student is registered by the EPFL Registrar’s Office and receives an electronic CAMIPRO chip card, that allows them to use a variety of functionalities, and to benefit from a number of advantages (see CAMIPRO).
  • They are affiliated to an EPFL doctoral program and have the same rights and benefits as EPFL doctoral students of the program; they can thus participate in the life of the program.
  • They have access to the EPFL Housing office database.
  • They can register for EPFL courses without paying a tuition fee.
  • They receive an EPFL email address.
  • They have access to the secure IS-Academia portal to register to EPFL courses and exams and evaluate the courses taken; an official transcript of records will be available upon request by email to [email protected].

The visiting doctoral student is in charge of requesting their visa (if applicable), finding a housing and making sure their insurance complies with Swiss laws. The following pages will help you:

Should your stay be longer than 3 months, you are required to apply for a residence permit at the Residents’ registration office (Contrôle des habitants) in your place of residence within 14 days after your arrival in Switzerland: https://go.epfl.ch/residence-permit.

You will be able to download an annual certificate from our academic database IS-Academia once your project at EPFL starts (you will receive your Gaspar login credentials in due time, but the accesses to the database will only work from the first day of your project at EPFL).

  • Click on “Annual certificate”:
  • Print the pdf document and bring it to the “Contrôle des habitants”

Should the visiting doctoral student want to extend their stay at EPFL, they need to ask for a new invitation letter from the EPFL hosting lab, and then complete the extension of stay form.

The following information is required before submitting the form:

  • the new duration of your stay (start and end dates must match those mentioned on the new invitation letter)
  • The name of the EPFL doctoral program you will be affiliated to (even if same as before)
  • The name of your EPFL hosting Professor (even if same as before)
  • The address of your EPFL hosting lab (even if same as before)
  • The email address of your EPFL hosting lab administrative assistant (even if same as before)
  • a certificate of enrolment from your home university covering the new dates of your stay at EPFL
  • a copy of the new invitation letter sent by your EPFL hosting lab

Once the form is filled, please send it by email – with attachments – to [email protected]. We will then handle the extension of your registration and confirm it by email within a few days.

You should inform your EPFL hosting lab to let them know that your stay will have to be postponed. Once your arrival dates are known, and you have received your visa, please inform the Registrar’s office of the new dates by sending an email to [email protected]. We will update your registration dates accordingly in our academic database (IS-Academia).

Please note that the Registrar’s office does not have any information regarding visa applications so we will not be able to give you any updates.

The Registrar’s office does not have any information regarding visa applications, however from our understanding, visa requests can take up to 3 months to be accepted so you should start your registration process as soon as possible. More information is available on this page.

Once you are registered and you have received your acceptance letter, the Registrar’s office will order your Camipro card and send it by internal post to your hosting lab’s administrative assistant a few days before your arrival. So once you arrive at EPFL, you should go to your hosting laboratory to pick up your Camipro card.

Once you are registered and you have received your acceptance letter, the Registrar’s office will send you an email, a couple of weeks before your arrival, with your EPFL Gaspar login account.

Each month, the hosting lab’s administrative assistant should fill an “ordre de paiement” for the scholarship amount. More information is available on this page (only accessible to EPFL employees and only in French) > catégorie 4a – Doctorants en échange > Matrice de responsabilité 4 and on this ServiceNow article page (only accessible to EPFL employees and only in French).