EDBB Candidacy exam

You will find all details regarding the candidacy exam under internal regulations of the EDBB doctoral program.

Before the end of the first year a candidacy exam (CE) will be held and prior to that, at least 4 credits must have been earned.

• a research plan no longer than 15 pages (font 12, spacing 1.5) will have to be sent 2 weeks in advance to the jury and signed by all participants on the day of the exam together with

• the Candidacy Exam (CE) form prepared by the EDBB Office and emailed to the PhD Candidate before the exam.

• A mentor needs to be identified before the exam, but does not need to be present at the exam

Candidacy Exam Jury will be composed of:

• the president of the Candidacy Exam who has to be either an EDBB committee member or an EDBB thesis director (with PO, PA, PT, MER or PATT status),

• the thesis director

• the thesis co-director (if applicable)

• two experts in the field (one of whom may be external to the EPFL)

• the mentor (the mentor’s presence at the exam is optional)

The EDBB Office can be contacted anytime to check the validity of the CE jury.

Fail or Pass

There is no possibility of “passing conditionally”: the outcome is either “pass” or “fail”. If the candidate fails the candidacy exam, a second and final exam may be rescheduled within a maximum period of 15 months after enrolment.

How to proceed?

At least 2 weeks before the Candidacy Exam (CE), the student should complete and validate the jury proposal by logging in to his/her IS-A account. There is no need to print and sign your jury proposal. Once you have validated it online, the EDBB administrator receives an automated message with the candidacy details and will email the students their candidacy exam form based on the data provided, i.e.:

1. the (provisional) title of the thesis work

2. the names (and address if not EPFL) of the CE jury members (see above)

3. CE date, time and room

The research plan cover page is also available to the PhD student through the IS-Academia portal.

After the exam, the 2 documents (CE form and research plan) are to be signed by all participants, PhD student included, and brought to the EDBB Office by the PhD student right after the exam, or latest within 2-3 days after.

More details on the Website of the doctoral school


This exam should be planned for no more than 30 minutes in length uninterrupted, or 60 minutes with interruptions and questions.

For more specific guidelines, one suggestion would be to organize the presentation of the proposal in the following way. Note that the most important thing is that it is logical and clear:

• Motivation (1/2 page)

• Overall goal and specific aims (1/2 page)

• Background (a few pages)

• Proposed research; separate each aim point by point (e.g. 4.2=Aim 2) and for each describe:

– why this aim is proposed – what it will (or should) tell you and how it contributes to the overall goal;

– proposed key experiments

– predicted outcomes or potential pitfalls

• Proposed timeline (1/2 page)

You should have enough preliminary data to justify your proposed research and show that it will likely work (or have backup plans if it doesn’t).

Request for extension of the Candidacy Exam date:

Should you need to postpone your candidacy exam beyond the mandatory 12 months after your enrollment date, you may submit a Request of Extension form to the Doctoral School via the EDBB office.

Such a request needs to be approved by your thesis Director(s), the EDBB Director and finally by the Dean of the Doctoral School at least 1 month prior to your exam due date.