Due to the pandemic and uncertainties concerning its evolution (new health restrictions, or for instance, a further deterioration of the situation), EPFL reserves the right to modify the Summer School’s participation conditions or even to cancel the event. EPFL cannot be held liable should this be the case.
If the summer program is taking place, please check what requirements are necessary for you to come into the country. There are many factors (your vaccination status, where you are traveling from etc.) that will determine if you are allowed in and if so, what rules to follow once arrived. Please use this tool provided by the Swiss Office of Public Health to determine what you will need to do. The rules may change many times as the situation of the pandemic evolves; this tool is kept up-to-date by the OFSP.
Who is eligible?
The Summer Research Program (SRP) selects from students who have finished two years of a Bachelor’s degree up to the first year of a Master’s degree by the start of the program.
What if I have finished my Bachelor’s degree and I am not yet in a Master’s program?
If you are actively applying for a Master’s program in a life sciences related subject and planning to pursue a life sciences related career, you are eligible up to one year after you finished your Bachelor.
The program dates do not match my university’s academic calendar. Could I come from May to July?
To be eligible, you must be on-site for the entire time between the program dates i.e., July and August. It is impossible to come a month early and leave a month early. We regret that our summer program dates do not correspond well with some country’s academic calendars.
My gpa is almost a 3.75/4.0. Will my application be evaluated? (gpa = grade point average), is calculated by adding all the numbered grades you’ve received and dividing them by the number of credits you’ve taken.)
Yes, it will be evaluated, but the SRP is very competitive and your chances of being selected are unfortunately low.
My background isn’t mainstream Life Sciences. Can I still apply?
Yes, students come with all kinds of related life science backgrounds, but you should have at least a few mainstream Life Science courses on your transcript as e.g., cell biology, biotechnology.
Do I need to have research experience already?
Most participants do already have lab experience, but some do not. It is not a requirement.
What are my chances of being selected?
The SRP is very competitive! In 2022, we received over 800 applications for 20 places. Your chances of being selected also depends on how many candidates choose the same top three lab choices – Popular labs have more applications from which to choose.
When will I hear back?
All applicants will receive an email by mid- March with the result of their application.
Does my transcript/grade sheets need to be translated into English?
We accept transcripts in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian.
If your transcript is in another language, please translate it into English.
Do I need to have an official translation?
You may translate your transcript(s) yourself and have a faculty member sign it to verify that it is a true translation. Include the original transcript in your upload.
Iranian applicants: Please send an unofficial, unsigned transcript. We understand that the Iranian government does not allow you to have an official transcript before your graduation and university faculty are not allowed to sign an unofficial transcript. Photos for grade sheets are acceptable.
My grades/gpa doesn’t really fit into the asked for format of XX/4.0, or XX/10. What should I do?
Please just fill-in the space using another short format (ie 12.3/15) or simply say “Please see transcript” and then have an explanation of your school’s grading system attached to your transcript.
Do I need an official transcript?
Yes, if possible and not too expensive.
If it isn’t possible or too expensive, then unofficial transcripts or screen shots from your university student portal can replace the official transcript.
What do I do if my school has a completely different kind of grading scale?
Please upload an explanation of your grading scale and how difficult it is to achieve each grade.
I haven’t received my last transcript. What should I do?
Please make a list of your classes that you are currently doing and/or the classes on the transcript for which you are waiting. Explain on the document why your transcript is unavailable at that time.
Can I upload the recommendations to my application myself?
No, your referee needs to use the link that is automatically sent to them after you have filled in their contact details and invited them through the on-line application.
Whom do I ask for a reference?
Ask someone who knows you well enough to assess your potential to do research, if possible a lab head and/or professor.
My referee didn’t receive a message asking them to upload my recommendation! What should I do?
Check the the email address that you used for your referee is still functional. Then contact the SRP administrator giving the confirmed address. We will see if the address used in your application was filled in correctly and then send another email to your referee. If it still doesn’t work, please supply another email address for your referee and we will also try that address.
Is the deadline, January 31st, also for the referee to upload their letter of recommendation?
We would like the recommendations to be in your file also on January 31st, but we know that your profs are busy people. Your referee needs to have uploaded at the latest on February 2nd, 11:59 CET.
Please note: Only when you submit your application, the automatic messages with a link are sent to you referees asking them to upload your letter of recommendation.
Will I receive a confirmation message when my professor uploads my letter of recommendation?
A new feature this year, is that you can monitor your referee’s progress. When you submit your application, you will receive a link to your “referee management” portal. There you can check when your referees upload your recommendation letter and send them reminders.
To whom should I address my letter of motivation?
“Dear SRP Selection Committee” works very nicely!
What should be in my motivation letter?
We want to know why you are applying, what has drawn you to want to do research, what you bring to the program and what you hope to get out of it.
I have never done a CV before! How do I do it?
There are many helpful CV methods available on the internet. Make your CV no more than 2 pages long, emphasize your education and lab experience, make it clean and easy to find the most important information that is useful for the selection committee to evaluation your scientific potential.
3 Lab Choices
What is this? How long should this document be?
If you are selected for the SRP, we need to know in which lab you would like to spend your summer doing research, and why.
Please write 2-3 sentences about each of your top lab choices. We want to know that you have thought about your choices and that they make sense based on your background.
If you are interested in less than 3 labs, then please put the same lab name in the application more than once so that your application will be complete.
Attention! Prepare documents beforehand!
Once you start the application, you must finish it in one sitting. There is no option to save it and come back.
We do not require proof of your level of English. We trust that you know if you can manage the program in English or not. If we have a doubt, we may ask you for a zoom/skype call.
How am I assigned to a lab?
When you apply to the SRP, we ask you to give us your top three choices from the participating lab list. We evaluate your application with the input from your top three labs. When we make our final selection, lab assignments are also finalized.
Why are some of the labs located in Geneva?
EPFL has extended campuses and several labs are at the Campus Biotech in Geneva. You may need to travel back and forth often. It takes about 1 hour each way. Your extra travel costs will be covered by the lab. Housing will be either in Lausanne or Geneva depending on availability. To find out if your lab is in Geneva, please consult the lab website.
What is the dress code?
Everyday is very informal (jeans etc.) but you must wear clothing that covers your legs and closed shoes in the lab for protection.
What is the working language?
Work, lab meeting and seminars are all in English. We however do not require proof of your English level at the time of the application.
Socializing can be often in French, or other languages.
What are the working hours?
Usually you work ± 40 hours a week in lab related activities. Depending on the project, you may have to work some on the weekends e.g., cell culture.
Friday Afternoon Workshops
Do I have to participate in the Friday Workshops?
Yes. Most Fridays you will be required to participate in a workshop on a relevant subject such as science communication, lab visits, personal development etc. The goal is to help prepare you for a future career in science.
What happens at the symposium?
You will be required to make a poster and attend the Closing Symposium that is held on the last day of the program. Besides the good food and drink, you will have the chance to explain your work to the Life Sciences Scientific Community and some of our program sponsors. If the poster session is not allowed under the current health situation, we will do zoom presentations of your summer work.
Do I have to find my own housing?
Your housing will be arranged for you and paid from your 3,200 CHF stipend before you arrive. Usually your housing is in Lausanne, a short metro ride from the EPFL campus.
Do I need to bring extra money?
Normally, if you are careful e.g., eating picnic lunches and eating-in, you can manage to live on the money left over after your housing is paid. You will need to bring your own money for weekend travel and tourism.
I come from a country that requires a visa to enter Switzerland. What do I do?
We will help you get a visa. The rules change frequently, so we will provide you with an invitation letter and directions as to what to do to help you navigate the process. It can take more than three months to obtain your visa. Do not start the process before you receive our instructions.
Asking for more Information
After reading all the website and the FAQs, what if I still have questions?
Please contact the coordinator with your questions, only if you have read all the information available on the website and the FAQs.
Remember! When you ask for information, it is not an SMS message, it is a professional communication and you want to make a good impression, therefore write in full sentences without slang or shortened forms of English words
Example of an inquiry –
Dear Ms Goodman,
My name is XXXXXX and I am interested in applying to the SRP.
I have a question about XXXXXXX. (Give enough information to help explain your question.
Thank you for your time.
Are there other summer programs at EPFL?
Yes there are! Students also have the possibility to apply to the following programs (distinct eligibility rules):