EDNE Forms, Regulations, General Planning


The following regulations are intended as a guideline for internal use.

1. Study Plan

1.1  PhD students need to earn 12 ECTS (credit units) before the final thesis defense. Four credit units must be earned within the first year.

Students can earn ECTS credits from all EPFL doctoral programs.

Students can earn ECTS credits from the Lemanic Neuroscience Doctoral School (UNIL, UNIGE and UNIFRI), ETHZ and UZH. Students can earn a maximum of eight (8) credits from the EPFL BA and MA programs. Courses must be from research fields fundamentally different from the student’s background. All these courses have to be approved by the EDNE director three weeks before the course begins; otherwise, no credits will be issued. Please fill in “Request for External Course Credit” form (EDNE site) and give it to the program administrator.

Attending a LNAM meeting (Lemanic Neuroscience Annual Meeting) earns one credit. Students must be (1) first authors and (2) hand in the print out of the poster signed by the PhD supervisor confirming that the student has taken an exam on the new knowledge acquired during the LNAM meeting. In total, only two such credits can be earned.

1.2  Students hosted on the EPFL Lausanne campus must attend at least half of the talks in the BMI Weekly Seminar series each term (no ECTS credit). Requests for exemptions must be addressed to the Program Director before the beginning of the term (except for unforeseeable reasons).

1.3  PhD students are required to participate in undergraduate teaching.

2. Mentoring

2.1  Within three months after enrolment, each student meets with the Program Director to choose a mentor who will follow her/his progress in the program. The mentor must not be a director or co-director of the thesis. Mentors must be either an EPFL professor or MER. Mentors may not be changed without the express permission of the EDNE Director.

2.2  The mentor will see the student each year before filing the Annual Progress Report form (EDNE site). The Mentor signs the Annual Progress Report and is available to meet the student in case of any problems.

2.3  The mentor must contact the EDNE program Director, if he/she sees or foresees any problems with the thesis.

3. Candidacy Exam

3.1  To be formally admitted to start a doctoral thesis at the EPFL, the candidate must successfully pass the candidacy examination at the end of the first year after enrolment (see Ordinance of the Doctorate and the Directive for further information).

The candidacy exam (CE) is comprised of:

  1. A Research Plan of 5 to 15 pages long. See “Research Plan Instructions” on EDNE website.
  2. An oral presentation of approximately thirty minutes by the candidate about his/her research   proposal, followed by questions from the jury.
  3. The jury is composed a president (see above to download the list), an expert in the field holding PhD and the thesis supervisor.  Co-authors or former lab members cannot be members of the CE jury.
  4. Video conference – Zoom or video conferencing is allowed for the expert only. The jury president and the thesis director must be physically present.
  5. After the jury deliberations, the thesis director verbally informs the candidate of the result of the CE.  Possible jury recommendations may be given in writing.
  6. The Cover page to the Research Plan and the Candidacy Exam evaluation must be signed by the candidate, the jury members and the President of the CE and returned to the EDNE administrator.
  7. If the candidate fails the CE, a second and final exam will be rescheduled within 15 months after the initial enrolment at the latest.

4. Annual Progress Reports

Year 1 -There is no 1st year Annual Report.

Year 2 – Scientific Discussion – The student must reassemble his/her Candidacy Exam Jury to give a short presentation. The purpose of this scientific discussion is to review the student’s progress, the direction of the thesis, and to address any possible difficulties. There is no formal evaluation and no other written report is required. (Download form above)

Year 3 and 4, students must submit an Annual Progress Report Form (down load above) to the EDNE administration. The deadline for submission is the anniversary of the EPFL Doctoral School (EDOC) enrolment date. If the Oral Exam is delayed, a final Progress Report must be submitted together with the “Oral Exam Jury Proposal” (item 6. below).

5. Oral Thesis Exam (jury defense)

Under exceptional circumstances, the oral thesis exam may be delayed. An extension of 6 months, must be well justified. Fill in the “Request for an Extension Form” (download above) and give it to the EDNE administrator for approval by both the EDNE Director and the Doctoral school. As submission of this form does not guarantee approval, the form should be submitted more than two months prior to the fourth year of enrolment.

For an overview of all the major steps to obtain a PhD in Neuroscience, see the

“EDNE Timeline” on above.

6. Effective Date

The above regulations entered into force on October 1st, 2015. The revised item 1 regarding the BA-MA EPFL courses extending to max. 8 ECTS entered into force in September 2012.