EDCE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ applicants FAQ Ph.D students FAQ Professors

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FAQ Applicants

EDCE Deadlines and Answers
January 15 – Answer in March

April 30 – Answer in June
September 15 – Answer in November

I would like to apply to the doctoral program. What is the process?

  • The process is described in details on the EDOC webpage https://www.epfl.ch/education/admission/phd-admission-criteria-and-application/
    Keep in mind that the committee evaluates only complete applications, this means with the recommendation letters from your three referees. If your application is not complete by the deadline, its evaluation will be postponed to the next deadline. Please do not send any documents by e-mail nor send messages to the Head of the Doctoral Program. 

I have not already contacted a potential thesis director. Can I apply to the program?

  • Yes. It may be useful though to mention in your application the potential thesis director conducting research relevant to your interests. The webpage of the doctoral program provides a list of laboratories for each of the four main streams of research supported by the program.

I have a job offer from a laboratory at EPFL. Do I need to apply to the doctoral program?

  • Yes. It is necessary to be admitted to the doctoral program in order to be hired as a PhD student. Keep in mind that your application may be rejected, which will not allow you to be hired as a PhD student.

Are the TOEFL and GRE certificates mandatory?

  • They are not obligatory, but you must be aware that all courses are held in English and that a good level of English is required for your thesis work.

I have received an e-mail mentioning that I fulfil the requirements of eligibility. What do I have to do now?

  • Once you have received an e-mail mentioning that you are eligible, you have 12 months from the date of your application deadline to find a thesis director and a research assistantship in a laboratory. Your admission becomes definitive once you have found the thesis director as well as a research assistantship position.

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FAQ EDCE Ph.D students

I have been registered to the EDCE doctoral program. What are the main milestones that I should keep in mind?

  • You must select at least one of the methodological courses and take it during your first year. If this is not the case, please fill out a request for an extension of credits.
  • If you are an external PhD student, you can follow methodological courses outside the EPFL, for instance at the ETHZ. This must be approved by your thesis director and the program director before attending them.
  • Within 12 months after your enrolment, you must pass the candidacy exam.                             
    a) The length of 20 pages for the Research Plan is recommended
    b) A limit of 30 pages is required
    c) In exceptional cases, the limit can be exceeded. An explicit agreement from the president of the candidacy exam committee and the thesis director is necessary. The request should be done at least one month before the exam.
  • Every year, a short status report (annual report) must be written and discussed with the thesis director (who has to approve it), and submitted to the doctoral program for approval as well. It must contain a description of your publication strategy. The first one must be submitted 12 months after your candidacy exam and the second one approximately one year after the first one.
  • Within 3 years after the candidacy exam, you must have obtained a total of 12 ECTS credits.
  • Within 3 years after the candidacy exam, you must pass the thesis oral defence.

 Can I take courses which are not proposed by the EDCE program?

Of course. Take as many courses as you want. To be credited, the following rules apply:

  • The credits obtained from any course proposed by a EPFL doctoral program are automatically credited, provided the thesis director has approved it. You can register any time, before or after the beginning of the course.
  • The credits from Master courses are automatically credited, with the thesis director’s approval.
  • No credit can be earned from Bachelor courses. In some exceptional cases, the thesis director can request a waiver to this rule, which must be approved by the program director. In any case, not more than 4 bachelor credits can be earned.
  • Credits from courses given at other universities must be pre-approved by the thesis director and the director of the doctoral program. The credits will be accounted only after the reception of an official transcript describing explicitly that an exam was passed, and providing the exact number of ECTS credits.
  • Credits can be obtained from short courses or summer schools under similar conditions: approval of the thesis director and the director of the doctoral program, plus an official transcript with the number of hours of lectures, plus the number of ECTS credits if available. Two important notes: (i) a formal exam must be passed to obtain the credit. A certificate of participation is not sufficient. (ii) The number of official ECTS credits proposed by the course organizer are not automatically credited by the doctoral program. The general rule is that a 5-day course is worth 1 ECTS.
  • Students are encouraged to follow semester courses instead of short courses and summer schools.
  • No credit can be obtained from conferences, seminars, symposium, workshops, internships, etc.

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FAQ’s Professors

I have an open position. How do I select a Ph.D candidate?

  • First, you should consult the list of candidates already admitted by the program. You find admissible candidates in your IS-Academia portal.
  • If you have a candidate in mind, who you believe is better than those already accepted, she/he must apply to the program, and will be evaluated by the committee at the next deadline. Keep in mind that the committee may reject the application if it does not match the standards.

I have a good candidate, and a research project that must start immediately. I cannot wait until the next deadline of the doctoral program. What should I do?

  • Exceptionally, the committee may review applications between official deadlines. Such applications must be submitted on-line using the regular procedure. Also, the potential thesis director must have performed a thorough evaluation of the student, must have a compelling reason for the fast evaluation, and must explicitly request a fast evaluation by writing to the director of the doctoral program.

I have identified a potentially good candidate, but I would like to interview her/him. Who covers the costs of this interview?

  • The EDCE doctoral program may provide support to interview candidates who have been deemed admissible to EDCE. To request this support, please submit a budget to the doctoral program using the form « Budget Interview EDCE» available on the EDCE website. The program can provide up to CHF 500 per candidate. A maximum amount of CHF 200.- is granted for accommodation and meals, upon presentation of receipt. No more than two candidates will be supported per laboratory each year, and priority will be given to assistant professors. The interview must be advertised on the EDCE webpage and opened to other potential thesis directors.