EDAR Candidacy exam

4 elements for your definite admission to your thesis

1)      Have 4 ECTS credits obtained from 1st year compulsory courses
2)      Submit your jury proposal
3)      Have the agreement of a thesis director to supervise your work
4)      Succeed at the candidacy exam

What is the candidacy exam?

The candidacy exam reviews your Research plan and your general ability to complete a doctoral degree. The exam takes place in person. It is a private (closed session) oral exam of around one hour, 20-25 minutes of presentation, with an additional Q&A session and deliberation. The jury’s decision (pass or fail) will be notified to you at the end of the exam.

Who organizes it?

The candidacy exam is organized by your thesis director and yourself.

Who are the members of the jury?

The jury is composed of at least 3 members of the EPFL teaching body:

A president – affiliated to the EDAR doctoral program. The President is chosen by the EDAR doctoral program (3 names of people to contact will given to you). Thanks for contacting your program administrator.
Your thesis director and co-director (where applicable)
At least one other member who is external to your laboratory but still EPFL
The presence of an EPFL external examiner is possible but purely optional.

What should I do if I am not ready to undertake the candidacy exam?

You may request an extension.  Fill up the form “request of extension”, choose either the option “to obtain credits” or “of candidacy exam” and send it back to the EDAR office as soon as possible with all the needed signatures.
Please do note that if you request an extension for the candidacy exam, you must pass it maximum 15 months after your official immatriculation date. In certain cases, it means that you won’t be granted a second attempt. If you fail the first one, it means that you will be exmatriculated by the EPFL doctoral school.

What happens if I fail?

In the situation that you fail the candidacy exam, you will have one opportunity to retake it within three months after your first attempt (maximum 15 months after your official immatriculation date). If you fail the second attempt, the doctoral school will exmatriculate you and it will be the end of your PhD studies.

What happens next?

Once you have fulfilled the four conditions for definitive admission to the doctorate, you will receive:
A copy of your “candidacy exam minutes” within 2 weeks following your exam.
An official message from the Acadmic Services admitting you for the preparation of your thesis.

What documents must I prepare for the candidacy exam?

  • The candidacy exam jury proposal form .
    Prepare and print your proposal form through your IS-Academia portal (thesis). Please send it to EDAR at least 10 days prior to the examination date. 
  • The Research Plan. Prepare and print your research plan cover page through your IS-Academia portal (thesis). The Research Plan has to be sent to your jury members around 15 days before your candidacy exam.

What documents do I need to send after the candidacy exam ?

Thanks for sending an electronic version of your final Research plan AFTER your exam to the administrator of your doctoral program.

Thanks for sending the first page of your Research plan (cover paege) with the signatures to the administrator of your doctoral program (even in case of failure on the first attempt)


The EDAR program administrator will send the “candidacy exam minutes” to the president of the jury a few days before your exam. This document will be signed by all the jury members on your exam day. You don’t need to take care of this at all.

The original of the “candidacy exam minutes” together with your Research plan (signed by you, your thesis director and the director of the doctoral program, Prof. Elena Cogato Lanza) will be sent to the SAC.
The EDAR rules here will give you more detailed information if needed.
For further information please do not hesitate to contact Sandra Bottà.