FAQ End of thesis

From the jury proposal to the diploma: questions you may have when approaching the end of your thesis

Timeline and check list for the oral exam and public defense

You can find more information on the coronavirus phd webpage.

Oral Exam via video-conference

You can find this information in the EDOC FAQ President of the oral examination.

– Test with friends or colleagues before the exam. Test and learn how to share your screen.

– send the jury members your PowerPoint ahead of your exam. During the exam, invite them to go to page so and so.

– sit behind your screen. Just “speak” to them and try to smile 😉

– please pause as soon as you lose track of one of your examiners. If they have connection problems, they will probably need to contact someone by email or phone -> you can add your email and the one of your thesis director if s/he agrees (and phone number?) in the invitation. Be aware that your exam might last longer. Have a bottle of tea/water ready. Pen and paper as well.

– stay confident, breathe mindfully!

EPFL BPB (BP1227) Booking → SAVE
BC 010 Service audiovisuel SAVE
CE 1257 [email protected]
SV1717 33082 ou 33098
ME D2 1124 SAVE provides technical assistance before and during the oral exam
SV Faculty SV 3715 For SV faculty members only
Campus Biotech Geneva

H4 3 133.084
H8 1 166.158
H8 1 144.167

Booking → your lab administrative assistant
EPFL Fribourg N/A Videoconferencing is not allowed in this antenna until further notice
Contact person → Ms. Laure Thorens
IMT Neuchâtel / Microcity MC B0 302 Booking → Ms. Lysiane Bourquin
Wallis-Valais (Sion) Zeuzier (I17 4 K2) Booking → your lab administrative assistant

The oral exam

The tax cannot be paid by the lab. According to the Ordinance on the EPFL doctorate, the doctoral candidate is required to pay the tax stipulated in the ordinance of 31 May 1995 concerning taxes in the EPF domain.

Federal Institutes of Technology

Innovation Park
EPFL Outposts
Campus Biotech Geneva
EPFL Fribourg
IMT Neuchâtel / Microcity
EPFL Valais Wallis
EPF Domain’s research institutes
PSI – Paul Scherrer Institute
WSL – Bellinzona / Birmensdorf / Davos / Sion
EMPA – Dübendorf / St. Gallen / Thun
EAWAG – Dübendorf / Kastanienbaum
Other research institutes
CERN – Geneva
CSEM – Neuchâtel
IDIAP – Martigny
Max Planck Society (MPS)

In your IS Academia student portal.

About the thesis Jury

About the jury members

  • The Jury president cannot be part of the same research unit (chair or lab) as the thesis director(s). 
  • The Jury president is not involved in the thesis work.
  • The jury members hold the title of PhD.
  • The internal jury member cannot be part of the same research unit (chair or lab) as the thesis director(s).
    If, exceptionally, the jury president and the internal jury member are part of the same research unit (chair or lab), the internal jury member should not be the superior of the jury president. 
  • A jury member cannot be a previous or current, official or de‐facto, (co‐)director of the thesis being evaluated.
  • Jury members must not have hierarchical relations to one another.
  • Jury members must not have a close personal or professional relationship with the candidate or thesis director (married, etc.). In particular, those experts should not have taken part into the work reported in the thesis.
  • The Jury president and the internal jury member are two different people.
  • Invited professors, guests, academic guests and host professors at EPFL could not be considered as examiners (neither internal nor external).
  • Retired professors from the EPF are considered as internal jury member. They cannot act as president of the jury.
  • The “Emeritus professor” from other universities are considered as external jury member.

Internal or external?

Federal Institutes of Technology Internal jury member External jury member
Innovation Park1
1Depending of the HR Contract (EPFL Contract=Internal jury member; Non EPFL Contract=External jury member)
EPFL Outposts    
Campus Biotech Geneva
EPFL Fribourg
IMT Neuchâtel / Microcity
EPFL Valais Wallis
EPF Domain’s research institutes    
PSI – Paul Scherrer Institute
WSL – Bellinzona / Birmensdorf / Davos / Sion
EMPA – Dübendorf / St. Gallen / Thun
EAWAG – Dübendorf / Kastanienbaum
Other research institutes    
CERN Geneva
CSEM Neuchâtel
IDIAP Martigny  
Max Planck Society (MPS)

The answer will depend on the doctoral program you are affiliated to. Please contact your program’s admin.

The jury proposal, signed by the doctoral student and the thesis director (and the co-director if applicable) should be submitted no later than 8 weeks before the oral exam to the doctoral program administrator.

The thesis

The provisional version of the thesis consists in

  • abstract followed by keywords; written in one of the four national languages ​​(max. 3,499 characters including spaces)
  • abstract followed by keywords; written in English (max. 3,499 characters including spaces)
  • thesis body
  • bibliography (only one for all the chapters of the thesis)
  • curriculum vitae of the doctoral student

Before you begin

Keep in mind that your thesis will be produced in close collaboration with your thesis director. It is important to take time to discuss your ideas with him / her about the content and layout of this document.

Finally, take a few minutes to review instructions provided by the Repro, which will bring important information for the printing of your thesis.

Cover page

The official cover page of your final thesis will be generated automatically by the Doctoral Student’s Office from the data in IS-Academia and will be added in your thesis by the Repro. It includes

  • thesis title
  • jury members
  • laboratory
  • doctoral program

For the provisional thesis, you can use the template you will find in the next section (Any thesis templates available) or make one on your own.

Content order

Most of thesis content (cover page, contents page, list of figures etc.) is listed below. You should ensure that you have included all required elements, and that you discuss the whole with your thesis director.

Content and bookmarks

In an effort to optimize your PDF file*, it must have bookmarks to each main section, in the following order:

  1. Cover page
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Preface by another author (often the thesis director)
  4. Summary (Abstract max. 3,499 characters)
  5. Table of contents
  6. List of figures, tables and symbols
  7. Body of the thesis
  8. Appendices
  9. Bibliography
  10. Glossary
  11. Index
  12. Photographic credits (list of photos used with the names of the copyright holders)
  13. Curriculum Vitae

Please, verify that each bookmark links its location properly.

*PDF size: max. 100 MB

When you’re ready to publish

Information on publication of your thesis and advice on submission, copyright, and on-demand publishers can be found on the EPFL library webpages: Services for researchers and Citation & copyright basic rules.

Thesis templates

You can use our suggested templates should you wish. There is no official or mandatory template to be used. Templates are provided to help writing your thesis. Just remember to comply with the requirements of the Print center (Repro).

Alternative sources

You can also use other templates and adapt them to suit. Some alternative sources:


  • The Doctoral School has not checked, and is not responsible for the accuracy or maintenance of the content of these sites.
  • The links are supplied only as an assistance for you in writing your thesis: before you begin to use them for your thesis, you should ensure their reliability and be prepared to adapt their content as necessary.

PolyDoc LaTeX Template

An unofficial template for the PhD thesis at EPFL is provided by PolyDoc. You can use it should you wish. There is no official or mandatory template to be used. Templates are provided to help writing your thesis. Just remember to comply with the requirements of the Print center (Repro).

Information on plagiarism for PhD students

You and your thesis directors are both provided with access to iThenticate, which is a tool that highlights any sentences and paragraphs in your documents (scientific reports, thesis) that are also found in other online documents.

In the future, all submitted thesis will automatically be verified with this tool. It will be your responsibility to explain the outcome of this verification to your thesis Director and the President of your thesis jury.

All doctoral candidates are encouraged to take some time to make themselves familiar with the iThenticate tool, and learn how to interpret its results. Given the importance of this issue, you should be cognizant of the tool and try it out on your thesis before it is submitted.

In order to make you aware of the different aspects of plagiarism, and to support you in learning how to reference correctly in your documents, an informative website – Similarity Check – has been put in place. Please check out this informative website, and don’t hesitate to contact the EPFL Library in case you have any remaining questions on plagiarism or iThenticate, and the EPFL Doctoral School if you have questions concerning the verification of your thesis against plagiarism.

When a thesis is made of published articles

A thesis containing a compilation of articles published (or submitted for publication) in scientific journals is possible on condition that it contains:

  • an introduction that puts the whole thesis into context and gives a global objectives of the research to be presented in the thesis (a thesis must have a common thread that connects the different papers/chapters together).
  • a general conclusion chapter, summurazing the main contributions of the thesis
  • a section presenting possibilities for future development of the work presented in the thesis

Each section that was, or is to be, published as an article must comprise on its first page

  • a complete list of authors
  • a detailed description of the doctoral candidate’s contribution
  • a full bibliographic reference available

CDoct 109 (November 2015) and CDoct 110 (January 2016) (Regulation)

Permission to reproduce

For a thesis made of articles, the good practice consists in contacting the publisher to ask permission to reproduce the article in the thesis. The publisher will not refuse and it keeps the student safe from any further problem with the publisher who is in the majority of cases the copyright holder.

Likewise, where an article is signed by two or more authors, an authorization to publish should be obtained from their respective authors.

Good to know

  • There is no minimum number or maximum number of articles
  • It is not required to be the first author
  • Scientific journal or literary magazine, the rules are the same

Theses made of published articles (Note from the EPFL Library)

More and more frequently, theses are partly or completely built as assemblies of articles already published in scientific journals (profit-making or non-profit-making). Most of the time, publishers forbid the distribution of articles in their final format.

In order to avoid problems that would hinder its mission as the official distributor of EPFL theses, the Library asks the authors who want to include published articles in their thesis to comply with the following guideline :

  • The thesis must not include, even as an appendix, articles with the publisher’s layout unless the author has obtained an explicit permission to do so and that it is mentioned at the beginning of the thesis chapter.

Instead of the publisher version of the article, we recommend to always use :

  • The preprint, i.e. the version of the manuscript submitted to the journal before peer-reviewing.
  • The postprint, i.e. the version accepted for publication. It includes additional corrections, suggested by the reviewers (as accepted by the publisher). The content is the same as the publisher version except for the final layout.

Whatever the version you choose (preprint or postprint), a mention like « postprint version of the article published in… » or « preprint version of the article submitted to… » must be added and include a link to the published article using the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) that eases the work for the reader.

The use of the preprint and postprint versions ensures that the copyright is respected and guarantees the free distribution of EPFL theses.

Lausanne, March 2017/EPFL Library/[email protected]

Final thesis and publication

Neither the author, nor his/her director have the right to postpone the printing of the doctoral thesis

Good to know

An electronic version will be published on the intranet few days after the public defense. It may be placed under a three-month embargo (available via the IS-Academia Portal).

The doctoral student

  • uploads the final version of his/her thesis in the “Thesis” tab of the “ISA portal” taking into account (where applicable) corrections required by the thesis jury during the oral exam.
  • completes the thesis’ metadata and specifies information concerning its distribution (internet, intranet etc.).
  • is required to order the hard copies of his/her thesis at the Reprography (the EPFL’s printing centre) while specifying the details with regard to the printing.

As soon as these documents and information have been accepted by the thesis director, via his/her IS-Academia Portal the thesis is released for printing.


  • The writer of the thesis is considered as its author as defined by the law on copyright. He/she holds all the rights conferred by copyright.
  • The EPFL has a non-exclusive right to publish and use part or all of the thesis, where it has supported the author by funding his/her work or making available the logistical means on its premises

You don’t need to order any copies for archives. EPFL, through the Print center (Repro), takes care and takes at its expense the printing of 4 copies whose recipients are:

  • The EPFL library (2 copies – 1 for the cantonal legal deposit, 1 for its regular collection)
  • The Swiss National Library in Bern (federal legal deposit)
  • The ETH library

as well as the electronic legal deposit:

  • The EPFL Library (Infoscience repository, intranet or Internet access)
  • The Swiss National Library in Bern (intranet access)

The distribution of a thesis can be delayed while the patent process is being completed. As soon as the patent application has been submitted, the thesis must be distributed (Loi sur le brevet d’invention, art. 49)

  •  What is a patent?
  • To know more about patenting, please contact the Technology transfer office (TTO)

Referencing and confidentiality

  • Title, abstract and keywords will be published about 15 days before the public defense.
  • In case of patent application or confidentialty, these items must not include information deemed sensitive. If necessary, please contact the Library ([email protected])

You cannot choose format and color. Since January 1st 2019, the cover of all EPFL theses is red and the format is the same for all EPFL theses.

Copies of the thesis can be ordered for your or for your thesis director/lab

  • in IS-Academia when you submit your final thesis (related fields to be filled in)

These printing costs are the responsibility of the person who places the order. The lab account number will have to be provided should copies be ordered for the lab.

The public defense

Federal Institutes of Technology

Innovation Park
EPFL Outposts
Campus Biotech Geneva
EPFL Fribourg
IMT Neuchâtel / Microcity
EPFL Valais Wallis
EPF Domain’s research institutes
PSI – Paul Scherrer Institute
+ public seminar

WSL – Bellinzona / Birmensdorf / Davos / Sion
+ public seminar
EMPA – Dübendorf / St. Gallen / Thun
+ public seminar
EAWAG – Dübendorf / Kastanienbaum
+ public seminar
Other research institutes
CERN – Geneva
+ public seminar
CSEM – Neuchâtel
+ public seminar
IDIAP – Martigny
+ public seminar
Max Planck Society (MPS)
+ public seminar

About public seminar (In addition to the public defense depending of the venue of your public defense, please check the table above)

The public seminar presenting the thesis work of the doctoral student is held on EPFL Campus or in one of the EPFL Outposts (Campus Biotech, Genève / EPFL Fribourg, Fribourg / EPFL Valais, Sion / IMT Microcity, Neuchâtel) during working hours.

  • PhD student is responsible for organising this seminar (booking a room, sending invitations, etc.)
  • Duration is more or less the same as the public defense (around 45 minutes). The seminar could be followed by a discussion
  • Presence of the thesis director (and co-director if applicable) is suitable but not mandatory
  • Presence of other jury members is not required.
  • Date of the public defence is the official awarding date of the diploma and PhD title
  • Diploma doens’t have to be shown during this seminar
  • Doctoral Students’ Office doesn’t have to be informed about the details of the public seminar

Your thesis director must be present at your public defense as she/he will preside it.

Graduation and after

Your diploma is usually ready about a week before your public defense. The Doctoral Students’ Office is allowed to give it to you provided that you have

  • informed the Doctoral Students’ Office of your public defense details
  • submitted your final thesis (PDF) in IS-Academia and it has been formally accepted by your advisor
  • signed the good-for-printing of your final thesis at the Print Center (Repro)

You must come collect your diploma at the Doctoral Students’ Office (BP Building / opening hours 10 to noon, or by appointment). Should you wish to know whether your diploma is ready before coming, please get in touch with your primary contact according to your doctoral program.

The date which will be on your diploma, and your official thesis, is the date of your public defense, for the EPFL PhD degree and title are officially awarded at the end of your public defense.

Membership is reserved for graduates of EPFL (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD, MoT and IML Postgraduates).

EPFL Alumni receives the list of all EPFL graduates on a regular basis. You will be contacted a few weeks after graduation (public defense).

More information on the EPFL Alumni webpage and EPFL Alumni FAQ