EDAR New PhD Students

The Main Steps

The principal steps of the Doctoral procedure are described in the page “Doctoral studies structure” section: General structure of a PhD.

We draw your attention to some important points in this regard:

– The first-year doctoral students must submit a thesis jury proposal to pass their candidacy exam. At the end of their first year, PhD students must have 4 credits. The candidacy exam is a small oral exam with 3 members of a jury followed by a Q&A session. This exam must take place between 9 to 12 months after your enrolment date. An e-mail will be sent to you by your program administrator.

– Each year in March, a report outlining the progress of the thesis must be presented by the PhD students.

– The steps to be taken upon completion of the doctoral program are described in the section of EDOC: “FAQ End of thesis“.

Duration of the doctoral program

The duration of the doctoral program is 4 years.

Extension requests must be submitted before the relevant deadline, signed by the director of the thesis (and co-director if applicable). they should be validated by the director of the program and the dean of the Doctoral School.

External PhD students practicing a professional activity outside EPFL must ensure that their workload does not prevent them from pursuing their doctoral program.

Updating and validation of personal information (FRAC EDOC)

Every 6 months, you will receive an automatic e-mail from IS-Academia asking you to check and update your academic and personal data.
Should you not answer this e-mail, you will not be able to print your annual certificate as well as your credit statement.
It is your responsibility to update your data. Only forms with updated data allow printing of credit statements.

2016 EDAR PhD Guide

For thesis supervisors and co-supervisors

The EDAR committee evaluates applications from PhD candidates three times a year. Candidates deemed eligible based on scientific merit may begin their dissertation once they have found a supervisor.

Completion of a dissertation typically takes 48 months:

  • A first, qualifying year during which the student takes courses at EDAR (4 ETCS credits), finds a dissertation supervisor, develops a research plan under the latter’s guidance and defends it at the qualifying exam.
  • Three years during which the student does dissertation work and takes courses at EDAR (10 ECTS credits).
  • Students have 36 months in which to complete their dissertation after successfully passing the qualifying exam, but may defend it prior to this deadline (however, not before 24 months after immatriculation).

PhD students and their supervisors must submit an annual progress report to EDAR. This report describes the progress and quality of the work, for which the supervisor takes personal responsibility.

If a dissertation does not progress as expected, or the supervisor has doubts regarding the quality of the work, the annual report is an opportunity for him or her to bring the matter to EDAR’s attention.


Contractually, three possibilities exist for PhD students:

Students may have a PhD assistant status for a period of no longer than six years. This status entails:

  • Full-time employment status.
  • A specific salary scale starting at 52,400 CHF gross annually.
  • No involvement in other professional activities.

EPFL PhD students employed by the EFPL are to be funded for the entire duration of their dissertation.

The supervisor agrees to finance the student for the duration of his or her dissertation at the time of hiring.

The student is not employed by the EPFL. This status entails:

  • Employment status at another academic institution (HES, etc.), public administration or company.


  • A foreign PhD fellowship.

In order to be accepted by the EPFL and EDAR, third-party financed students must:

  • Prove they have annual revenues equivalent to the minimum salary paid to EPFL PhD students.
  • Prove they have the time needed to complete a dissertation. If employed, candidates must provide a written statement from their employer stating that they shall devote at least 50% of their working time to their dissertation (if the candidate is employed half-time for a sufficient salary, this proof is not necessary).

Third-party financed students enrolled at the EPFL complete their dissertation in 48 months, like EPFL PhD students financed by the EPFL.

The arrival of these PhD students, must in all cases, be reported to the ENAC’s human resources department (or the relevant school, if not ENAC).

These students are enrolled in a PhD at a university other than the EPFL, and is hosted by the EPFL in exchange. 

This status entails:

  • Funding from a source other than the EPFL, though the salary scale need not necessarily correspond to that of an internal PhD student.
  • A minimum monthly income equivalent to 1,600 CHF net, required by the Swiss government to issue a work permit.
  • The arrival of these PhD students must, in all cases, be reported to the ENAC’s human resources department (or the relevant school, if not the ENAC).