Program Requirements

EDIC - Computer and Communication Sciences

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When joining the EDIC program, a doctoral student either receives a one-year fellowship (and is unaffiliated) or is hired directly into a lab (i.e., he/she has a thesis director and is affiliated in a lab). In both cases, there are two important dates, the hiring date (start of contract or fellowship) and the enrollment date (start of PhD clock).

Fellowship students start their fellowship at the beginning of the academic year (September). They are enrolled in the doctoral program at the same time. They may choose a thesis director and may be hired by a lab no sooner than by the end of the first semester and no later than within 12 months of enrollment.

Affiliated doctoral students may be hired at any time (once they have been admitted to the EDIC program). They are enrolled in the PhD program at the beginning of the next academic semester following their hiring (e.g., an affiliated student who is hired in June is enrolled in September, whereas an affiliated student who is hired in December is enrolled in February).

Prior to submitting a PhD thesis jury proposal, all EDIC doctoral students must obtain 30 credits, 12 of which come from semester projects.

The minimum requirement at the end of the first year is:

  • 4 credits with courses;
  • 12 credits with projects (one 6-credit project per semester).

The remainder of the credits is taken in accordance with the following rules:

  • Courses are divided into 3 areas: Artificial Intelligence, Systems, and Theory;
  • For the first-year requirements (see Section 3 below), 6 (or 7) credits are obtained with a course selected in one of these areas defined as depth area;
  • The other two areas are defined as breadth areas and 8 credits are selected in the breadth area (4 credits in each area) and come from the EDIC Course Offering;
  • The remainder of the credits (a minimum of 4) can be taken from the whole EPFL master- and doctoral-level course offering.

At the beginning of each semester, the choice of courses for the semester is made in agreement with the designated EDIC contact person (for fellowship students) or the thesis director (for affiliated students). In order for the credits to count, courses taken outside EPFL have to be at the doctoral level and to include a progress monitoring procedure (exam or equivalent). They must be approved in advance by the EDIC Program Director.

See summary table [pdf]

In addition to the credit requirement described in Section 2, the requirements below are applicable by the end of the first-year.

3.1 Depth Courses

Within 12 months of enrollment in the doctoral school, students are expected to satisfy a depth course requirement. The depth course requirement consists of one course taken in a depth area from one of AI, Systems or Theory. The list of depth courses is available on the EDIC Course Offering page.

The passing grade for the depth course is 5.0 or better. EPFL students who have passed one of the depth courses with a grade of 5.0 or better prior to enrolling in the doctoral program are exempt from this requirement. However, the credits taken will not count towards your doctoral studies. ETHZ students who have passed a course equivalent to a depth course in EDIC with a grade of 5.0 or better can petition to be exempt from the depth course grade requirement. The credits taken at ETHZ are not transferable.

3.2 Semester Projects

The project credits come from projects offered by professors who are affiliated with the EDIC program. To sign up for a project, the student needs to choose a lab, have the professor accept him/her for a semester project (by signing a registration form).

3.3 Candidacy Exam 

Within 12 months of enrollment in the doctoral school, a student must take a candidacy exam. The candidacy exam consists of a short write-up, a presentation, and an oral exam in front of a committee including the thesis director(s) and two other members. The exam must be scheduled for two hours although it is expected to last around 90 minutes.

The presentation lasts 30 minutes and is public. It is followed by a private exam of around 60 minutes. The write-up, the presentation, and the exam are based on a reading list consisting of three research articles that are related to the thesis topic. The reading list is chosen by the student in collaboration with the thesis director(s) at least two months before the exam. The goal of the exam is for the student to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the articles on the reading list and be able to evaluate them critically, taking into account the background knowledge and research forming the foundations for to the contributions in the articles. The exam is followed by a discussion of the thesis plan.

After passing the candidacy exam, a doctoral student must meet his/her thesis director once a year and fill out the annual report form. This is a good opportunity for the students to receive official feedback from their advisors. The annual report is an online form which must be filled out first by the student, then by his/her advisor and is due to the Doctoral Program by October 15 every year. The annual reports are reviewed by the EDIC Program Committee to make sure that all doctoral students are making satisfactory academic progress.

Doctoral students starting their second year and those who are within three months of defending their thesis are exempt from filing an annual report. A mid-term evaluation is required six months later for those who failed to get a satisfactory grade in the annual evaluation.

Doctoral students also participate in the teaching activities of the school as teaching assistants (TAs). IC School doctoral students are part of a pool, for which the basic information is available here.