EDCB Candidacy exam

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.

• The research plan will have to be sent one week in advance to the jury members. The signed version with the cover page generated in the Student’s portal of IS-A has to be sent in PDF to [email protected] latest just after the exam together with 

• the Candidacy Exam (CE) template for the minutes, duly signed by all participants to the exam. This form is prepared by the EDCB Office and emailed to the jury president and 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 EDCB committee member or an EDCB 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 EDCB 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 three 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 EDCB 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/sent to EDCB Office (E-EDCB, station 11) by the PhD student right after the exam, or latest within 2-3 days after. During the COVID-19 period, please send both documents in PDF (without protection) to [email protected].

More details on the website of the Doctoral School: FAQ First years of doctoral studies


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 EDCB office.

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