Doctoral Commission Decisions (Cdoct) – [under construction]

Procedures of exam (courses, candidacy exam and oral exam)

We have to become stricter in how we administrate candidacy exams: First, “Fail” is not sufficient. The jury has to explain briefly why a PhD Student failed. Secondly, there is no conditionally passed candidacy exam. The exam is either failed or passed.

Doctoral Program Directors’ Meeting: Nr 87, March 22nd 2012

Candidacy Exam – Definitive admission protocol

It remains the purview and responsibility of the doctoral programs to ensure that regulations are properly followed in a student’s definitive admission to candidacy, not the SAC-DOCT. Any queries on points of procedure should be addressed to the EDOC, not to SAC-DOCT. In the coming weeks, a “definitive admission protocol” will be provided by EDOC to the programs. This form will provide for programs to advise SAC-DOCT directly on the four elements for definitive admission. Program administrative assistants will be duly advised of the details. It will be the programs’ responsibility to get this protocol to SAC-DOCT at the 12th month after immatriculation, and to assure any further follow-up before finalization at the 15th month.

Candidacy exam – Additional points

In addition to the points of procedure raised at the previous meeting of CDoct in relation to co-directors, credits, etc., members are asked to note the following:
− If a student does not present themselves for the candidacy exam within the 12 months after immatriculation, this is taken to be a “first failure”, and SAC-DOCT duly advised. Similarly, if the candidate has not respected the 15 month deadline for the second attempt, then he/she will have failed the exam.
− Before leaving the exam room, the jury must take a clear decision with regard to the result and complete and sign the official record (PV) to that effect. This record should be forwarded directly to the program office.
− The program office should provide the student a copy of the PV with details of reasons for failure, where applicable. If absolutely necessary, the student can be given a signed copy of the comments, but the PV should be preferred. The jury does not need to provide an exhaustive list of corrections to be made: this should remain the responsibility of the thesis director (and co-director) to discuss with the candidate.
− Where a second attempt at the exam is necessary, sufficient time should be given to the candidate to prepare. This means that programs should ensure the candidate receives a copy of the PV of the first attempt immediately after the exam.
− Both director and co-director of the thesis should attend the exam. An absence should only be in cases of “force majeure”, not for minor scheduling issues. A thesis director cannot “block” a candidacy exam from taking place. Nevertheless, the program has the responsibility to ensure that the candidate has met all preconditions for the exam.

Extending the date of the candidacy exam

Following several requests for extensions to the deadline for the candidacy exam, J. Giovanola has decided to introduce a limit. According to EPFL regulations, definitive admission must be completed within 15 months after the date of immatriculation. Consequently, the candidacy exam (including a second attempt) must happen within those 15 months. The deadline for first exam may be extended, but only in order to allow for a second attempt to still be made within the 15 months. This is to ensure fairness for all our candidates so that no one is ultimately allowed more than 15 months in order to complete requirements for definitive admission. Members were asked to note that the 15 months is counted from the date of immatriculation by SAC, not the date of hiring or the date of admission or any other date.

Doctoral Program Directors’ Meeting: Nr 65, September 17th 2009

ECTS Credits (European Credit Transfer System)

When the ECTS credits were introduced to the EPFL in 2004, the definition taken by the Doctoral School was agreed to be 14 contact hours plus 14 hours of independent work for one credit. The actual ECTS definition is for 25 to 30 hours of work for one credit, without distinction as to the type of work carried out. The EPFL will adhere to this definition; with the semester system the BAMA credit is for 28 hours of work. J. Giovanola asked members to adhere to this definition of one credit for 28 hours of work. While the separation of types of work should be provided, all courses’ stated number of hours of work should correspond to this calculation and total 28 hours. Some modification on the current course book will be necessary and program administrative assistants will receive further instructions in regard to procedure and the classification of type of work – Doctoral Program Directors’ Meeting: Nr 63, April 23rd 2009

Credits for attending conferences

CDoct AGREED that conference attendance cannot be eligible for credits. Participation in summer schools and workshops with proper pedagogical content however are to be strongly encouraged – Doctoral Program Directors’ Meeting: Nr 63, April 23rd 2009

Thesis Directors approaching retirement

J. Giovanola wants to put in place a new procedure for thesis directors approaching retirement. At the time of proposing a new thesis direction, the professor is asked:

  • to nominate another colleague who will coordinate the internal administrative duties after retirement;
  • to ensure that financing is guaranteed for 4 years. A written statement to that effect needs to be signed by the dean of the faculty and the program director;
  • to commit to continuing supervision after retirement.

Doctoral Program Directors’ Meeting: Nr 59, October 16th 2008