EDRS Candidacy exam and research plan

Within one year after your enrolment as a doctoral student at the EPFL, you are required to have 4 elements to your “definitive admission” for the preparation of your thesis:  

  • Already have a minimum of 4 ECTS credits
  • Submit your thesis proposal
  • Have the agreement of a thesis director to supervise your work
  • Succeed at the candidacy exam

What is the candidacy exam?
The candidacy exam reviews your research plan and your general ability to complete a doctoral degree.  It is a private (closed session), oral exam of around 20-25 minutes with an additional Q&A session. The jury’s decision (pass or fail) will be notified to you at the end of the exam.

Who organizes it?
The candidacy exam is organized by your thesis director and yourself between 9 and 12 months after your official enrolment date.

Who are the members of the jury?

  • A president affiliated to EDRS and external to your lab
  • Your thesis director and co-director (where applicable)
  • At least one other member who is external to your laboratory and EPFL Professor
  • The presence of an external examiner is possible but purely optional (better EPFL, but can also be external)

Because the examination can have a duration of up to 2 hours, including the deliberation, the availability of the jury members must be reserved accordingly.

What should I do if I am not ready to undertake the candidacy exam?
You may request an extension. Fill up the form “extention request”, choose either the option “to obtain credits” or “of candidacy exam” and send it back to me as soon as possible with all signatures requested. Please note that if you request an extension for the candidacy exam, you must pass it maximum 15 months after your official enrolment date.

What happens if I fail?
In the unlikely situation that you fail the candidacy exam, you will have one opportunity to retake it within three months after your first attempt (maximum 15 months after your official enrolment date). If you fail the second attempt, the doctoral school will exmatriculate you and it will be the end of your PhD studies.

What happens next?
Once you have fulfilled the four conditions for definitive admission to the doctorate, you will receive an official letter from the dean of the doctoral school admitting you for the preparation of your thesis.

How should I proceed with the organisation of my candidacy exam?

  1. Define a jury together with your thesis director
  2. Once all members confirm their attendance, send me an e-mail with their names, for approval by the program director
  3. Then, when you know the date, time and room of the exam, please go to your IS-Academia portal, complete the fields in order to print your jury proposal, collect the corresponding signatures and submit it to me at least 8 weeks before your candidacy exam

Guidelines for the research plan

The length of the research plan should not exceed 10 pages in dual column format (IEEE style) or 20 single column pages.  The research plan is submitted to the jury members at the latest 10 business days before the candidacy exam.

Please do not forget to print the cover page of your research plan, collect the corresponding signatures and submit it to me together with your research plan at the latest 5 days after your candidacy exam.